Horror movie franchises require creative people and fresh ideas to last as long as some of them have. If you count the number of movies that involve Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Chucky, you have dozens — some of them even good. Caretakers for these iconic killers come and go, but the fans remain. Lately, Michael Myers experienced a surge in popularity when writer/director David Gordon Green took over the series and reintroduced the Haddonfield horror icon to a new generation while bringing back the older generation by including Jamie Lee Curtis. Green’s trilogy started with 2018’s Halloween before last year’s Halloween Kills and, now, Halloween Ends. It’s rather presumptuous of Green to declare the long-running series over with its 13th entry. Instead, I think that it merely ends his time as the latest filmmaker to put his spin on the killer. Halloween Ends disappoints on many levels with its boring pace and questionable approach as the equivalent of that house on October 31 that gives out healthy snacks instead of full-size candy bars.
Green established himself early on with character-driven independent movies like George Washington and All the Real Girls before moving on to more mainstream titles like Pineapple Express and Your Highness. I don’t know how their working relationship came to be, but Green and writer/actor Danny McBride joined forces on many movies and even the TV series Eastbound & Down. McBride cowrote this trilogy, so for better or worse, Green and McBride completed their horror trilogy together. Halloween Ends picks up a few years later than the events of the previous two movies. Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) live together in Haddonfield, Illinois, and enjoy a quiet existence. Strode spends her days writing about her experiences for a memoir, while Allyson puts in hours as a nurse in the local hospital. Local guy Corey (Rohan Campbell) has been unfairly ostracized by the community. When he requires stitches after a run-in with bullies, Allyson takes a liking to him and starts dating him. See the problem yet? The trailer and marketing build up Halloween Ends to be a final battle between Laurie and Michael — good and evil — and too much of the running time follows Allyson and Corey and the bizarre twists and turns in their relationship.
Curtis long ago earned her crown as a scream queen and a “final girl” with the Halloween series and other flicks like Prom Night and Terror Train. The actress comes full circle with Halloween Ends, but as in Halloween Kills, she doesn’t have a major part in this “last” movie as she should. If this is Curtis’s final appearance as Laurie, she deserves better. Matichak and Campbell have to carry the film, and I’m not certain that they succeed given the weak plot. Campbell reminds me of Hugh Dancy, and that distracted me for much of the movie. Matichak fares better, but as with Curtis, a meatier character arc and more dramatic scenes would have led to the same finale. Will Patton returns as Frank, a love interest for Laurie, yet he only has a couple of scenes and feels totally thrown aside where he could have been crucial to Laurie’s journey. James Jude Courtney reprises his role as The Shape/Michael Myers, and I was counting the minutes until he showed up because of the Romeo and Juliet aspect to the proceedings. Kyle Richards made news when her character returned in the last movie, and she sadly only delivers a few lines in a party sequence.
The bait and switch irked me and had me checking the time on a few occasions. This is not the way that Michael Myers should go out — with a whimper instead of a roar. I don’t know if Green ever achieved in any of his films why the original movie scared audiences for generations. It was all about the atmosphere — you could feel the chill in the air — and the unpredictable, relentless nature of Michael. I predicted this finale 30 minutes into the film during an ordinary scene that for me obviously portended the fate of the characters. I don’t want to be right when I guess something. I want to be completely surprised and blown away as in recent horror/thriller releases like Barbarian, Fall and Malignant. The poster has Michael and Laurie posed like heavyweight boxers promoting a fight. Had that been the focus, I’d be writing a different review than the comparative tickle fest that results.
Are there any positives to point out? Sure. John Carpenter’s musical theme ranks as one of the most recognizable in horror. I was impressed with the many death scenes for characters who almost all got their just desserts. Practical effects look so real on film even though you know that it’s just a movie. If that’s what you’re aiming to see, you’ll get some treats along with the awful tricks. Green sets up some scenes, poses and camera angles to replicate famous scenes from the original. Those welcome moments elicited a smile or two. Callbacks to the first two Curtis appearances as Laurie and characters from Green’s trilogy brought some nostalgia and tied up a few loose ends. The last half-hour beats everything that came before. Too little, too late.
Is this truly the end of the Halloween series? I doubt it. When there’s money to be made, studios bring back these characters again and again. Why should a film with “ends” in the title be any different? I have seen farewell tours from Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Kiss (twice!), and all of those performers are still touring. Honestly, I thought up a way to continue the series a few seconds into the credits, and I expect that, after a reasonable amount of time, some promising filmmaker will lure Curtis back to the series again just as Green did. The end of an era probably more applies to Green’s time with Michael Myers. When you turn off your porch light on Halloween night, there are still some kids wandering in the dark looking for their next score of candy. I’ll imagine that Michael Myers will stay in the shadows like those kids until someone else turns on the light for him to come home.