Halloween Ends, Finally

Charlie von Peterffy ‘24 / Entertainment Monthly Staff Writer

In 1978, John Carpenter created one of the most memorable slasher villains. On Halloween night, donning a white, featureless mask, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. He escaped from the mental institution he had been held in, killing more than half a dozen residents of Haddonfield with only a butcher’s knife. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a local babysitter and one of the few survivors of Myers’ murder spree, returned him to police custody after a brutal fight with him. With the help of Myers’ obsessive clinician, Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Myers was put away for good––or so it seemed. 

Halloween quickly became a classic among horror fans, becoming the first in a trend of slasher films in the 1970s and ‘80s. The film spawned a franchise of its own as well; with 11 sequels (spanning across multiple timelines) and two remakes, the franchise has endured well into the 21st century. Unfortunately, most of the later attempts were critical and sometimes financial failures. Instead of letting the franchise die, new movies that ignored the events of previous sequels were spawned (hence Halloween H20: 20 Years Later after Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, acting as a direct sequel to Halloween II). Unfortunately, this new reboot failed after Halloween: Resurrection received the franchise’s worst critical and financial reception. Then the studio tried to reboot it again, first with Rob Zombie’s critically panned remakes of the original two movies (which inevitably failed yet again) and, finally, with director David Gordon Green’s new reboot trilogy. Green’s trilogy is the most recent attempt to reignite a spark in the franchise, and it has been by far the most successful.

Starting with a sequel titled Halloween in 2018, Green created the first Halloween consistently successful sequel. It gained a 79% score on the critic review site Rotten Tomatoes. It also achieved $255 million at the global box office, breaking records as the highest-grossing slasher film (without adjustment for inflation). These gains made it clear to Green and Universal Studios what fans wanted: more Myers, Strode, and slasher fun. Therefore, Green continued to make two more sequels, Halloween Kills in 2021 and the most recent entry, Halloween Ends.

Unfortunately, neither sequel lived up to Green’s promise. Kills was released to critical disdain, with many criticizing it for its lack of direction, substance, and forward movement of the franchise. The film spends too much time retreading the same lines of the 2018 hit, mixed with underwhelming new themes that do not hold up. It acts more like filler for the trilogy’s finale as a result. Unfortunately, Halloween Ends is no better––in fact, it is considerably worse. Filled with confusing plotlines, characters, and messages that feel like last-minute additions, an overall mess of a finale, and little development for the film’s central characters, Halloween Ends is the worst of the latest Halloween trilogy––and is arguably one of the worst of the franchise.

Halloween Ends takes place four years after Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills. Myers (now played by James Jude Courtney) has disappeared, and Haddonfield has been relatively peaceful. Strode and her granddaughter, Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), have moved on with their lives. Strode writes a memoir about her experiences, and Nelson works as a nurse at the local hospital. But, unfortunately for them, all is not as it seems; with the help of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), an outcast of Haddonfield after accidentally killing a little boy he babysat on Halloween night 2019, Myers returns yet again. Seeing Myers as a mentor, Cunningham and Myers wreak havoc on the town together. For Strode, Myers’ return is a threat, but the real challenge is Cunningham, as he and Nelson become romantically involved. Strode must take out Michael Myers for good and ensure that Cunningham does not become a more significant threat––without losing the only family she has left.

The story has potential, but is ultimately squandered. It briefly explores new, exhilarating ideas. For example, the idea that Myers’ evil presence could be passed down to a new generation is a fascinating concept. However, the writing is too simplistic for these concepts to feel whole. Instead of offering nuanced suspense and glorious spectacle, the script dumbs the story down to one filled with hollow jumpstarts and missed opportunities. As a result, it fails to excite, mindlessly wandering through these ideas without any integrity.

The cast, fortunately, is solid. Curtis, Nelson, and Courtney give superb performances in their roles. Curtis gives the best performance as Strode since she first took the position in ‘78, rejuvenating the character with much-needed emotional weight. Courtney also adds new layers to Myers. Even without showing his face, Courtney does a great job showing how damaged Myers is after years of killing and facing death himself. Even newcomers like Campbell give pretty solid results, although admittedly not as successful as the franchise’s long runners. Unfortunately, however, the characters themselves feel wasted. The film’s main stars get sidelined because of all the plot to tread over. They have character arcs but rarely get time to develop adequately, and the few developmental sequences feel too flat to suffice. This is, by and large, the biggest sin of the film. It fails to bring a good end to these characters’ journeys, leaving viewers with scantily dashed endings that feel unjustified.

Despite these flaws, the film’s visuals are great. With new killings, visual techniques, and well-designed practical and digital effects, the film visually links back to the thrills of the original classic while embracing modernity with open arms. Halloween Ends is perfect for some mindless fun for horror, thriller, and gore fans alike.

Ultimately, Halloween Ends is a disappointment. It relies too much on its visual thrills and horror, leaving little room for fleshed-out storytelling or layered personalities. It offers new ideas and exciting possibilities, only to just as quickly leave them to rot. For fans hoping for a satisfactory end to the new (and hopefully final) timeline reboot, Ends will feel more like a dire necessity to kill the franchise than a good send-off. For fans of the slasher genre looking for intelligently devoid kills and thrills, then Ends could suffice. Just do not expect anything extraordinary because you will not get that.

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