2022 | R | starring Rohan Campbell, Andi Matichak, Jamie Lee Curtis, Will Patton | directed by David Gordon Green | 1 hr 51 mins |
2022 Halloween Horrorfest
Now that David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy has ended we can safely toss it on the Hollywood bonfire along with the smoldering embers of Star Wars and Jurassic Park as beloved franchises that were rebooted with new trilogies in the new millennium. Potential turned to products that squashed these franchises flat and drained creative potential dry. Just imagine being handed the keys to the kingdom to make not one, but 3, films in any of these franchises and the license to explore it however you wanted. Time and again, they simply end up getting spit on by the very people who seem not to know what to do with them, have no idea what made them special in the first place and no unique vision for bringing them back to life. Now that it’s over I truly don’t know what the point of director Green and writer Danny McBride’s vision for this new trilogy was. Just keep the Michael Myers copyright alive I suppose.
4 years after Michael Myers’ latest rampage through Haddonfield turned the entire town into a raging mob that took on a seemingly unstoppable creature, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and granddaughter Allyson (Ali Matichak) are living in relative peace but for the simmering resentment of the town. When Allyson falls for Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell, the spitting image of circa 1980 Tom Beringer), another town resident with a tragic past, she ends up riding shotgun on his dark slide toward his own psychosis with a little help from Haddonfield’s boogeyman.
Halloween Ends is one of the most bizarre Halloween films ever made in the series long history. And that’s really saying something. This is a series that picks and chooses it’s cannon with each film. This series considers only the first film as cannon, some like Halloween H2o consider the first two. There’s a timeline where Michael is Laurie’s sister and one where he isn’t. There’s a timeline where he’s just a man and one where he’s a cursed supernatural entity. There’s a hillbilly Rob Zombie remake that over-explains his origins. Green’s trilogy picks the most bland elements of all, sometimes leaning into Michael as a man, sometimes as a metaphor for evil and in the climax of their bonkers second film Halloween Kills presents and ending that hints heavily that Michael is something indestructible and supernatural. But Ends leans more toward Season of the Witch than all of these, the idea that Halloween can be an anthology series, this time about various tragic characters in Haddonfield. I love the concept, but Ends has an issue with follow-through.
The film opens with Corey, in a night 1 year after Michael’s rampage in which the 21 year old babysitter accidently got the young child in his care killed. The movie then spends about 80% of it’s screentime on Corey’s story and whether or not he will find redemption or go toward full psychopath. We know this because Laurie herself, writing a survivor’s memoir, delivers multiple voiceovers, each time about the knife’s-edge temptation to pick hope and light or evil and death. Allyson immediately and absurdly falls for Corey. If she were a bartender with shorter hair we’d be looking at a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in how ridiculously involves she gets in saving the life of this socially awkward, bespectacled mama’s boy with no prospects. In the same way that Jurassic World: Dominion decided to end it’s saga fighting locusts instead of dinosaurs, Halloween decides to end it’s saga without Michael Myers. Talk about knowing what the audience wants and telling them to go to hell.
I was ok with all of this as it was building – partly because I foolishly assumed it might be building to something – and partially because it is a well told descent-into-madness arc. I appreciated the way it broke out of the Halloween slasher mode and worked on character development, even how it dealt with Laurie and Allyson, moving past simple survivor mode and asking how you move on with their lives in a town where nobody else will let them. Even when Corey has his It-inspired encounter with elderly Michael Myers in a sewer, I was ok with it.
Why so lenient? If you haven’t heard Jamie Lee Curtis in a 2012 panel interview explain why Halloween: Resurrection exists do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s one of the best Hollywood behind the scenes stories I’ve heard. Long story short: there is a clause in the contract that specifies Michael Myers as a character cannot be killed. Or was back in 1998. In that context, the backflips this movie does to establish a new character and put him in the Michael Myers role is clever – until it isn’t. Ends ironically has no idea how to end this. One-by-one severing every single plot point it builds. The third act of this movie is profoundly lazy and stupid.
I keep comparing these movies to Halloween: H20, a movie I loved when it came out, fell out of fashion when 90s self-referential comedy started feeling smug and then came back in fashion when this series illuminated what it worked in the first place by comparison. In H2o’s barely 90 minutes, we get a complete satisfying arc where Laurie Strode goes from cowering in fear to turning the tables and fighting Michael Myers for the first time. It’s a lot of fun. The 2018 Halloween reboot, reimagines Laurie Strode as a gun-totting, trap-building commando from the jump, making the finale film where she “finally confronts him” again entirely anti-climactic and by comparison, very small. In the tacked-on climactic finale where the two confront each other despite spending the entire film world’s apart, the fight never leaves the kitchen.
This ending is just the middle finger on top of the existing problems with this series. Both of Green’s previous films have at least looked good. I’m a sucker for unbroken takes of Myers stalking the neighborhood knifing people. This movie doesn’t have that. I liked the idea of expanding the lore to the entire town of Haddonfield. This movie botches that. More to the point, Green’s approach is one of someone making a slasher movie that doesn’t want to make a slasher movie. He wants to turn Halloween into an art film about generational trauma and infectious violence. All 3 of these films lack any appreciation for the genre, a skill in building suspense and generating shocks or any creativity in the kills. End’s one ironic kill delivered to a radio DJ stands out as a reminder of how dreary and passionless these movies are.
Like Colin Trevorrow’s slap-dash approach to Jurassic World, Halloween Ends is a head-slapper of a film that makes one bizarre decision after another specifically and deliberately for the purpose of not giving fans of the franchise something they might enjoy. An anti- Top Gun: Maverick if you will, which is so trendy nowadays. Now that the trilogy has ended, it’s unclear what it brought to the franchise at all. No new take on the characters, stylistic choices that tried to pull from the atmosphere of Carpenter and the violence of Zombie. I appreciate what the movie is trying to do and would have been more keep to support it had the guts to follow through.