And so, it comes to this. Forty-four years after John Carpenter’s immortal horror movie, Halloween, hit cinema screens, the long-running franchise reaches its 13th and supposedly final entry in the series (for now, anyway).
Along the way, the franchise has introduced various reboots, retcons, and re-imaginings; has developed multiple (and often quite confusing) timelines; and has killed off lead star Jamie Lee Curtis on more than one occasion.
But for now, we’ve reached the end. Or rather, we’ve reached an end point for this current run of Halloween movies.
You may recall, the series was rebooted in 2018 with director David Gordon Green’s Halloween and then continued with last year’s Halloween Kills (2021). This latest instalment, titled Halloween Ends, arrives in cinemas today, stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, and Rohan Campbell, and brings the story to a close.
But as noted above, while this film is being touted as an end, and it does bring closure to David Gordon Green’s latest crop of Halloween films, if the horror genre has taught us anything, more will follow in the fullness of time.
Don’t believe me? Then maybe take a look at Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), or The Final Destination (2009) for further clarification.
The truth is, nothing is final in the movie business and certainly nothing is final in horror. Crazed killers and brutal bogeymen have a way of coming back for one more scare, and you should expect nothing less from Michael Myers.
But for now, let’s see this as a resting point. And speaking of resting points…
In Halloween Ends it has been four years since Michael Myers last terrorised the residents of Haddonfield. Following on from the events of Halloween Kills, Michael has not been seen or heard from since he faded into the shadows, and now he exists as nothing more than a chilling story and a local legend.
But the residents have not forgotten the irreparable damage he has caused, and neither has Laurie Strode. However, with Michael nowhere to be found, and Laurie keen to move on with her life as best she can, she has spent the last four years getting sober and coming to terms with the horrors of her past.
Laurie has also learned to step into the light and has become a mother figure for her granddaughter, Allyson. As for Allyson, she too is trying to move forward following Michael’s rampage, and the subsequent death of her parents.
Allyson is newly single, and she soon finds herself romantically interested in mechanic, Corey Cunningham. However, Corey has a tragic past of his own and his suffering from verbal and physical abuse from some of the residents of Haddonfield.
This abuse sets Corey off on a dark road, which soon puts him on a collision course with Michael Myers. And then before long, Michael is back on the scene infecting Haddonfield with his own brand of evil.
As the bodies start piling up, Laurie finds herself getting drawn back into the nightmares of her past, and finding it difficult to say goodbye to Michael. But could one last showdown be on the cards, which could put an end to Michael’s reign of terror for good?
OK, now that I’ve got all that out of the way, what about the movie? After years of waiting, after all the build-up, and after all the teasing that this could be end of the Laurie Strode/Michael Myers storyline, is Halloween Ends worth the wait?!
In one word: No.
While Halloween Ends isn’t without some merit (I’ll ‘big-up’ the best bits shortly), it is largely a bad movie. It is as bad as Halloween Kills, but strangely it is bad for entirely different reasons.
To recap: My opinion on 2021’s Halloween Kills is that it was a mess of a film. My opinion on Halloween Ends is that while this isn’t the mess its predecessor was, it is largely misguided and most important of all, painfully boring.
The film runs just shy of two-hours, and boy, does it feel it. At least 90-minutes of this movie is a slog, with only a few minutes here and there livening things up.
After a genuinely good opening act, Halloween Ends gets slower and slower and slower, almost to the point where everything moves at a snail’s pace. And to make matters worse, it also moves down a path that seems to get further and further away from what I expect most fans will want from this particular Halloween movie, and this is something it never recovers from.
What I mean by that (without giving away any major spoilers), is that this Halloween instalment attempts to do something the others haven’t. It plots a new course, moves in a whole new direction, and the end result is not what you might expect.
Is it a good new direction? No, I’m not entirely convinced it is; and I sense a significant fan backlash will be on the horizon.
Remember how people (myself included) were not particularly happy about Jamie Lee Curtis being largely absent from Halloween Kills? Well, something similar happens here.
Oh, it’s not Curtis that gets the short end of the stick, she gets plenty of screen time in Halloween Ends; the problem is Michael Myers. He’s barely in this film, and when he does appear, it’s not A-grade material.
Halloween Kills attempts to do something different with Michael, to ensure it is not a rehash of what came before. This new idea is in itself not particularly bad, and with the right script it could have worked, but unfortunately it doesn’t.
The problem is, that the film side-steps Michael Myers for significant chunks of the movie, in favour of placing its focus elsewhere. Much of this focus is on new character Corey, who is tasked with driving the story forward.
I’m tip-toeing around plot points here, so not to ruin the film for anyone, but let’s just say that Corey becomes important for this new direction. This film views his character as a way of turning a corner, and tapping into wider issues about absolute evil and PTSD, and it gives itself over to this new way of thinking.
Unfortunately though, Corey isn’t as interesting as the film wants him to be. Despite various attempts to add spice to his character, he’s monumentally dull and some of his scenes suck the life out of the picture.
So, the idea of pegging so much of the film on this one character is a mistake. It’s a mistake that is made at the beginning of the film, and one which pretty much runs the length and breadth of the story.
And with Corey taking up so much screentime, this comes at the expense of Michael Myers. What could have been a thrilling finale, about Laurie’s battle with Michael, quickly descends into an odd new tale which backs the wrong horse, and this is a huge shame.
What’s perhaps most surprising, is that director David Gordon Green, along with writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride, believed this would be a good idea. They put pen to paper, thought about the story they wanted to tell, and figured this was the right direction to go in.
To be clear: There is an infinite number of ways this story could have gone, and yet, they chose this one. They chose to make a Halloween movie that fails to deliver the one thing that most Halloween fans would want: Namely, plenty of Michael Myers.
Now, of course it is here that I should point out the Halloween film series has previously attempted a Michael Myers-lite sequel before, in the shape of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). The film – which focused on an evil mask-maker – had nothing to do with Michael Myers, and instead went off on another tangent altogether.
However, the decision to take the series in a new direction back in ’82 had one result: Halloween III tanked at the box-office. It performed very badly because audiences went to a Halloween movie expecting to see Michael Myers, and when word got out this simply wasn’t going to happen, audiences stopped showing up.
All these years on, and Halloween III is now considered a cult-classic, and on a personal note, it is my favourite sequel in the whole series. However, I believe those of us who love it can all agree on one thing: It would be better if the film was not part of the Halloween series.
I bring all this up, to make a point: Halloween has become so synonymous with Michael Myers, that audiences have certain expectations, and if the film doesn’t deliver a decent amount of Michael, it’s not going to work. And Halloween Ends doesn’t deliver a decent amount of Michael, and therefore, it doesn’t work.
I’m all for new ideas and new directions, and I welcome them, but not here and certainly not now. Let’s not forget, Halloween Ends isn’t the opening entry in a new reboot, it is the end of an ongoing story; so, the focus should be on wrapping things up, rather than experimenting with something new.
And at the very least, the focus should be on delivering a story which is thrilling, exhilarating, and much faster-paced. When you are in danger of sending your audience to sleep, you have to know you’ve done something wrong.
Putting all of this to one side for a moment, Halloween Ends also suffers from some nonsensical scenes, a couple of glaring plot holes, and a final showdown which is not worth the time and money that was put into it. Yes, there is a big stand-off between Michael and Laurie, and yes it does have a definitive outcome, but the whole thing feels rushed and incredibly underwhelming.
Remember how great the finale was in 2018’s Halloween? Remember how tense and exciting it all was, as Laurie and Michael moved around Laurie’s house playing a game of cat and mouse? Yeah, well, there’s nothing even remotely like this here.
The end fight between Laurie and Michael takes place in a kitchen, it’s as dull as the rest of the movie, and is over before it has even begun. To think that audiences sat through Halloween Kills and the majority of Halloween Ends for this!
OK, OK, I said that Halloween Ends has some merit, so I really should stop with the bad stuff and switch to something more positive. There’s not much I’m afraid, but here we go anyway.
Although Halloween Ends feels largely devoid of kill scenes, the film does have a couple of pretty good gory sequences. Those who love a bit of blood splatter will enjoy these moments in the film, and I can’t fault the deaths.
I also mentioned that this film has a genuinely good opening act, and I’ll highlight this again. The pre-credit sequence is great and deserves to be amongst the film’s best bits.
Halloween Ends also benefits from an excellent turn from Jamie Lee Curtis (as always), and a superb score which is the work of John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. The score fits in nicely with the tone of the film, it never becomes distracting, and creates the right atmosphere.
And then there is the ending itself, which as mentioned above is definitive. While the final battle is note worth getting excited about, the fact this film does provide some kind of closure does earn it a bit of credit.
However, as I’ve previously said, no ending is final and I’m sure this one could be undone if needs be. Let’s not forget the ending to Halloween: H20 (1998) seemed pretty final at the time, but it wasn’t long before Halloween: Resurrection (2002) reared its ugly head to retcon everything – and the less said about that, the better.
I don’t know how well Halloween Ends will do at the box-office, but I expect it will do OK. At this time of year, and with a great deal of interest from fans in this franchise, I would be surprised if it didn’t make plenty of money.
However, I don’t expect the critical reception will be good, and I expect many fans will come away from this movie feeling unhappy. While some may praise Halloween End’s desire to mix things up a little, I’m fairly confident most will feel disappointed with the choices that have been made.
For me, my biggest issue is that regardless of the ideas it chucks at the screen, or the new direction it takes, Halloween Ends fails because it is a plodding picture. The main goal of a movie like this is to entertain, and this one simply doesn’t.
When this new run of Halloween films got off the ground in 2018, I had high hopes for the future but now that it’s all done and dusted, I can’t help but wish 2018 was both the beginning and the end. This whole series of films should have been much, much better.