'Halloween Ends' Review: The Big Showdown Whimpers with Bizarre Creative Choice

Four Star Rating:
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell, Kyle Richards
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenplay: Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Based on: Halloween (1978) by John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Producers: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
Music by: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies
Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
Editor: Tim Alverson
Production Company: Miramax, Blumhouse, Trancas International Films, Rough House Pictures
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Genre: Horror
Rated: 14A (Ontario)/R (United States) - Violence, Gore, Frightening Scenes, Profanity
Release Date:  October 14, 2022
Run Time: 111 minutes

The big selling point in the marketing for Halloween Ends was we would get the definitive final climatic showdown between survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and psycho killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney/Nick Castle). 

The final act has the big battle as advertised, but oddly enough, it is a finale to a movie that is barely about either Laurie or Michael. 

It is clear the rebooted trilogy had some things it wanted to say. The 2018 Halloween explored the nightmare that stalks survivors and how they often never find true closure due to others refusing to listen. Halloween Kills dug deep into the dangers of mob mentality. Now, the third picture looks at how a society can allow evil to thrive by turning victims into villains and pushing others towards wickedness due to a lack of forgiveness. The movie asks if Haddonfield and our community is not the true villains with how we treat others.

This is a fascinating idea to explore in this horror series, but director David Gordon Green and credited screenwriters Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride (Green also helped write the screenplay) fail in the execution making the message feel hollow and slapped together.

The picture will also annoy some long-time Halloween fans coming to see Laurie and Michael to discover they've been sidelined to focus on new character Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) and Laurie's granddaughter Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak). 

The decision to go in an unexpected (and unmarketed) direction is bold and ambitious, but unfortunately, it is a misguided mess that takes several silly directions that is played far too straight and the character arcs are rushed. Corey is a disturbed outsider that has been villainized by the town for a tragic mistake he committed. He is now subjected to verbal abuse from citizens, bullying from high school band members (we can all relate to those times we were picked on by those from the rugged high school band), and mistreated by his overbearing and hysterical mother (Joann Baron). The picture does very little to make us connect to this character before we witness the hostility and anger push him towards the darkside, so most will distract themselves by wondering if they are watching a Halloween movie.

The idea of Haddonfield being the true evil driven to hysteria over the carnage left by Michael Myers who has disappeared since his latest killing spree in 2018 (but considering where we find him, you question how hard the police force was actually looking for the past four years) is meant to be a commentary of the divide and toxicity that has manifested through our own society as we react to major news events that further divide us. What does our own volatile reaction do towards those we sling our anger or what happens when we label a person as a constant danger? This approach to a slasher is intriguing, but is all done in a ham-fisted and forced nature that creates several story issues.

Laurie and Corey both are ostracized by the community, and the movie explores the different paths each take. But the venom towards Laurie is more plot convenience rather than anything earned. Throughout the picture Laurie is blamed for bringing Michael's fury upon the town, but based on what was retconned in the 2018 version, Laurie has no connection to Michael other than surviving his attack in 1978. Sure, she turned out to be obsessed about his eventual return and she prepared for that inevitable day, but she didn't do anything to force him back. The town rage ends up being nothing more than a convoluted attempt to drive the idea we can villainize the victim, and it especially fails since Laurie plays secondary character for most of the movie, so the issue isn't fleshed out,

This also spotlights one of the biggest problems the entire new trilogy has with its attempt to retcon everything but the original movie out of canon. It takes away the sibling relationship between Laurie and Michael, and even tried to push the idea the killer has no feelings or memory of Laurie, but then still wants the benefit of a rivalry. Michael still acts as if he has some obsession with Laurie and her family. 

The other aspect they supposedly wiped out from previous pictures was that Michael was supernatural, and this time he is just an incredibly disturbed and sick human. Except he survives a vicious attack from half the town, then the 60 plus year-old immediately counters by killing almost all the weapon wielding mob with ease in Halloween Kills. This picture follows the undefined character with an odd subplot that hints Michael has some strange supernatural powers, but other times trying to make him seem a mere human.

The main story is Corey trying to fit into the town that hates him while fighting malicious urges. The forced attempt to fit him into the Halloween narrative is shoving him into a romantic relationship with Allyson. There is no chemistry between the two, and we are to believe Allyson is instantly smitten by the awkward social outcast because it makes the plot move along (maybe she is really into hand scars). There is hints that Allyson may be drawn to him because they both feel like outsiders, since she lost both her parents to Michael and her grandmother is the most famous Haddonfield survivor that for convenience of plot is also despised. But the screenplay does nothing to dig into that justification or make the relationship feel as passionate as the movie is trying to sell it.

The real reason for the relationship is to cause friction between Allyson and Laurie, because the latter senses a lingering evil in Corey that reminds her of the now AWOL Michael Myers. The timing of sensing the evil is a little off, since she is the one that initially matches the two together, because that is what was written in the screenplay (despite matchmaker never seemed to be a Laurie thing before). It eventually comes out that Allyson is angry with her grandma, and much like the town blames her for Michael, and especially the death of both her parents. 

This serves to remind me of one of the most frustrating aspects of the previous movie. The forced and jarring death of Judy Greer's Karen that was so poorly constructed that I was holding out hope that it was nothing more than a dream sequence. But no, it happened and it means we only get the terrific Greer through flashbacks and photos. But the death proves important, because without it we wouldn't get the friction between Allyson and Laurie that drives the relationship with Corey that dominates the entire story until it is rushed to an ending, so we can get the actual showdown everyone paid a ticket to see. You got to swerve that audience.

The ultimate battle between Laurie and Michael is well-choreographed and energetic, and Curtis proves willing to be quite physical to sell the stakes. It would have ranked as an all-time great final girl vs. the killer main event except the fight and the conclusion all comes off flat, because all the build to this relies on previous movies and was forced to the sidelines for the majority of this picture for the messy and ill-defined main tale about Corey. It hurts even more that Campbell does nothing more than be a caricature with an over-the-top and exaggerated performance.

Curtis does deliver as Laurie who is trying to move on with her life by writing her memoirs and leaving her encounters with Michael in the past. This is a gentler and kinder Laurie who is trying to connect with her granddaughter, and is open to celebrating Halloween and taking up baking and knitting again (things she did in the original). There is even cute hints at a potential romance between her and Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) that only takes place in a few scattered scenes, but it is the more endearing and nuanced romance. 

Curtis portrays a gentleness and a warmth this time, but she also conveys it as a cover for the deep-seeded anger and fear that is bubbling inside her. Curtis slowly evolves into the tough and no-nonsense figure from the 2018 version, and it is believable when she is ready to throwdown with evil at the end.

While for most long-time fans the biggest sin will be the sidelining of crucial characters, but it needs to be addressed that much like the preceding picture, Halloween Ends just isn't very scary. The music by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies is appropriately atmospheric and sets the tone, and this includes the legendary score but also some new pieces. But the picture is edited in such a chaotic and fast-cutting way during the kills that they don't provide any type of visceral emotional effect. There are a few kills that have some creativity especially one at a local radio station, but it is mostly just standard gore. Much like the previous, the filmmakers seem to believe the act of killing is scary enough and it lacks the sense of dread and build that made the 1978 original a classic. 

It does deliver exactly what fans were expecting and anticipating, but goes down a path that is bound to disappoint to get there, and even for non-fans, it is a meandering mess that leaves questions and ends up unsatisfying with anything not connected to Laurie and Michael. After seeing the complete trilogy, I'm left wishing the end was the 2018 version.