The legacy of the Halloween franchises cannot be understated. After John Carpenter‘s original film debuted in 1978, it created a rush to the horror genre unlike any film before it. While influence from Black Christmas and Psycho was noticeable, the unique visuals and subject matter opened the door for slashers to break through into the mainstream. More than forty years later, the effects of Halloween are still echoing throughout horror. This made the release of David Gordon Green‘s 2018 reboot a must-watch. The fact that it was well received was an extra blessing. The 2021 Halloween Kills was not met with the same acclaim, but continued to push forward the vision of Green and collaborator Danny McBride. The final film in their trilogy hits theaters this weekend, and Halloween Ends will surely be a divisive one for years.
Picking up four years after the events of Halloween Kills, Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) and Alyson (Andi Matichak) have moved on with their lives. After the deaths of Alyson’s parents, the two finally found some peace in Haddonfield. One day, Laurie meets fellow pariah Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) being bullied one day. Laurie brings Corey into Alyson’s office for medical attention, and the two young adults hit it off. However, as Corey and Alyson begin to grow closer, Laurie begins to see echoes of the past. With Michael Myers still on the loose, there is reason to worry in Haddonfield.
The story of Halloween Ends seems primed for Rob Zombie levels of reception. The way the story unfolds, Green and McBride seem keen on shaking up the franchise. However, this also leaves many purists on the outs. To some, Halloween is dependent on copious amounts of Michael Myers, and Halloween Ends does not play bring this aspect about in a traditional sense. Myers looms over the film in nearly every sequence, but the shape does not always take on the role of primary antagonist.
At the same time, Green and McBride continue to explore the themes they’ve set out to examine since the 2018 re-quel. Much of this Halloween forces Laurie Strode to examine her character’s strengths and weaknesses. She seems to have moved on, but there’s a lingering question of paranoia to the detriment of her other relationships. Curtis once again delivers an introspective and haunting performance, one that easily ranks amongst her best in the franchise’s history.
That paranoia and fear does not stay with Strode, but instead has infected all of Haddonfield. After the dozens of deaths at Myers’ hands in Halloween Kills, the cast is almost entirely reset. Outside of Curtis, Matichak, Kyle Richards, and brief appearances from Will Patton, the rest of the ensemble changes over. This provides Halloween Ends with a challenge of paving the path for new characters in the supposed finale of the franchise. This becomes a burden on the film, and slows down the pace significantly.
The majority of the story comes through Campbell’s character, and your connection to him as a performer will certainly drive your appreciate or distaste of the film. While he seems sincere early in the film, his ability to maintain his charm dissipates. While this seems to be an intentional choice of the filmmakers, it also hurts our ties to our perspective for most of the movie. If anything, they put their finger too heavily on the scale, and the red flags stunning obvious to everyone except a single character. Playing a Romeo and Juliet story arc does work, and left this critic cold.
Additionally, the setup required to deliver this story eats up more than half the film. In many ways, this feels like a showdown that would have been welcomed as Part 2 of the trilogy, while Kills feels more like the epic conclusion. Instead, those wishing to see a showdown between Michael and Laurie should be directed to Halloween: H20, which serves this aspect of the story in much more exciting terms.
There will be many who like the direction and societal questions that Halloween Ends explores. Yet for the conclusion of this franchise and Curtis’ sendoff for Laurie Strode, there are some genuinely confusing choices. The kills and violence that does cross the screen makes for some extremely entertaining and wild moments. Sadly, the final product is a messy, unfocused conclusion to the forty plus year saga.