Halloween Ends Review: Do You Promise?
Halloween ends in such a way that you hope Michael Myers never comes back. It’s just not for the reasons the filmmakers intended.
How do you explain what is at the center of a black hole? By definition, the color black is the absence of light. Trying to comprehend that on a cosmic scale, where a vast inky emptiness is so overwhelming that literal light cannot escape its gravitational pull, remains difficult to fathom, be ye astronomers or storytellers.
Take this weekend’s Halloween Ends for example. For two movies now, director David Gordon Green and his team of co-writers, which includes Danny McBride, have attempted to graph a rationalization for the absolute absence of light onto John Carpenter’s Boogeyman made flesh. Which is to say, they’ve attempted to explain Michael Myers. Literally credited as “the Shape” in the original Halloween masterpiece of 1978, Michael was always intended to be the absence of light, of color, and of anything else that could be construed as a scrap of humanity. He was evil personified.
Green inherently understands this, as indicated when he succinctly recaptured that essence of the idea in 2018’s Halloween, a revival so good it brought Jamie Lee Curtis back as the best iteration of Laurie Strode in 40 years. And it ended her story, along with Michael’s, pretty damn well. Hence why the two obligatory follow-ups Green and producer Jason Blum have pursued feel so unnecessary. They said it all the first time, so what’s left?
Two films and four hours later, the answer appears to be a microcosm of the same old mistakes that ran the original Halloween franchise into the ground with a series of diminishing returns. Green attempts to expand on the question of Michael Myers, and while his answer is more ambitious and intriguing than the witchcraft schlock provided by the Cult of Thorn in Halloween 6 (1995) or Rob Zombie’s Goliath-sized Dahmer in the 2007 remake, it’s still ultimately just as unsatisfying.
We don’t want to know what really exists out there in the dark.
If you’ve noticed I’ve been vague about the plot details of Halloween Ends up until this point. That’s because the actual hook of the picture, and even its several inciting incidents, are spoilers. So suffice it to say that, in the broadest details, it’s been four years since Michael Myers’ killing spree in the 2018 movie and last year’s Halloween Kills (which took place on the same Halloween 2018 night), and the Boogeyman has not been seen since. Nonetheless, the town of Haddonfield, Illinois has been unable to forget the scars Michael left in his wake.
While Laurie Strode (Curtis) is unconvincingly set up by the script as putting away her paranoia and choosing to play homemaker for her newly orphaned granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), the rest of the town is haunted by the madness. You can see it in the gaunt face of Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) and in the way goofy boy next door Corey (Rohan Campbell) becomes so easily spooked.
None of Haddonfield’s residents are spared from Michael’s ghost, whose thrall we will study for a long, long, long time before the Shape makes his belated and, if we’re being honest, anticlimactic return.
As hinted in our synopsis, Halloween Ends is an ambitious sequel that for nearly a full hour abandons the slasher movie formula. If Halloween Kills seemed like Green reacting to criticisms about not enough gore or grisly set pieces in the 2018 flick, Ends attempts to course correct again after the overindulgence of slaughter in Kills.
This close to Green’s trilogy is about waking up in the ugly light of the morning after—and how that hangover can last years. After staring into the countenance of evil, whether that be in the shape of a man or a community descending into a murderous mob, how do you heal?
On paper, it sounds like a tantalizing idea. Onscreen, it’s tedious and at times unintentionally maudlin if the smatterings of laughter at my press screening are anything to go by. And for Friday night audiences signing up for a slasher movie, I imagine it will prove lethal.
The worst aspect of this, however, is how thoroughly the approach wastes the eternally wonderful Curtis. While the last movie confined Laurie to a hospital bed for most of the running time—a bit like the star pitcher being benched until the seventh game in a series—the implication at least was that there was an overarching plan that would save her for the big finale.
But unless the plan was to put the pitcher in the outfield, that turns out not to be the case. Curtis has more to do than in Halloween Kills, but until the inevitable showdown with Michael in the last reel, it’s primarily as the third wheel in a lousy melodrama played out between Matichak and Campbell. An ever committed performer, Curtis always dominates a scene. Even so, when Michael invariably starts doing his stalker schtick and watches Laurie and her little soap opera from afar, one can’t help but wonder if the Shape is also checked out.
If you absolutely must know how Halloween ends (again), there are a few compelling confrontations in the last 20 minutes, but be warned: in this one they really do sap Michael of his power. If only they stopped before also robbing him of dignity, his appeal, and even his entertainment value. But who knows, maybe this butcher’s work will be what finally keeps him buried for good?
Halloween Ends is in theaters now and steaming on Peacock.