A film review by Craig J. Koban January 4, 2023


2022, R, 111 mins.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode  /  Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson  /  Will Patton as Frank Hawkins  /  Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace  /  James Jude Courtney as The Shape  /  Rohan Campbell as Corey Cunningham  /  Omar J. Dorsey as Sheriff Barker

Directed by David Gordon Green  /  Written by Green, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride



I will say this for HALLOWEEN ENDS in terms of opening this review on a positive: 

This third film in the semi-self-contained trilogy set in the same universe of the iconic John Carpenter directed slasher original from 1978 shows co-writer and director David Gordon Green taking some ballsy creative risks with the storyline established in 2018's sort of sequel/sort of reboot entry.  

That's good.  

Compared directly to 2021's laughably awful HALLOWEEN KILLS (an installment made with technical proficiency, yes, but one that was fundamentally awful on a storytelling and thematic front), HALLOWEEN ENDS does some interesting things when it comes to exploring not only survivor guilt, but also how Michael Myers' reign of terror on the inhabitants of Haddonfield and his dangerous supernatural stature has imprinted on one troubled youth in particular (and a whole new character to this series).  

That's also good!  

I like the big conceptual swings that Green opts for here, which makes his third HALLOWEEN effort stand well apart from its abysmal predecessor.   

Having said that, what's not good this go-around is that this sequel still commits the same sins as the last two films in terms of not really understanding what a a trendsetter like Carpenter achieved all those years ago.  That, and I'm suspicious as to whether or not die hard series fans will appreciate what's supposed to be a sense of closure and finality to the saga of Laurie Strode's family versus The Shape taking more stock in introducing new characters and new relationships that take away from the established players in the first place.  HALLOWEEN ENDS most definitely deserves points for subverting my very low expectations for it (that were done no favors whatsoever by the feeble scripting of HALLOWEEN KILLS), but ultimately there still remains a rushed feel to the proceedings, not too unlike the same sensations that I had while watching STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER a few years ago, another trilogy caper that had to course correct and undeniably had a made-it-up-as-they-went aura that didn't sit well with fans.  I admired the storytelling ambition of HALLOWEEN ENDS (it does things that frankly no one was probably expecting going in), but it's the overall execution of the picture that leaves it fundamentally lacking. 

Of course, I may have to delve into spoilers in discussing what happened in HALLOWEEN KILLS, so you've been warned.  The last sequel ended (and ended terribly) with Myers murdering Judy Greer's Karen Nelson, whom you may recall was the daughter of long-time Shape victim Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, thankfully and rightfully given more to do this go around).  But instead of this new installment dealing with that aftermath from the get-go, we're instead given a prologue (set back in 2019) with a whole new character named Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell, all moody posturing and not much else).  The young adult has been hired to babysit a local Haddonfield kid whose parent are - uh-huh - going out to a Halloween party.  Late into the evening the child is revealed to be a bit of a snobby little SOB and decides to play a cruel prank on Corey that taps into just about everyone's fear of Michael Myers.  The prank goes horribly and leads to the little prankster dying (and dying a shockingly gruesome death that I honestly thought was in poor taste), leaving poor Corey looking like the culprit just as his shocked parents have come home.  It goes without saying that this is arguably the most effective and nerve wracking sequence in the entire film, but the fact that it doesn't involve any of the previous established personas may be a warning sign of things to come. 



HALLOWEEN ENDS then flashes forward a few years and takes us to Laurie and her granddaughter Allyson (now living with her after being orphaned), and for the most part they both have moved on in their own respective ways, even though past demons still haunt them.  Fortunately for Laurie, she begins this film in arguably the most healthy state that this character has been in since the beginning of the events of the '78 original, and we see her penning her memoir of survival against Myers, which obviously serves as a form of therapy for her.  As for Myers himself?  He has not been seen in Haddonfield for three years and not since the climax of HALLOWEEN KILLS, which has left many in the town still fearing his return.  As for Corey?  The child he was babysitting that ended up dead all those years ago was legally proven to be an accident, but Corey had his reputation in the town destroyed and is the victim of constant bullying.  Laurie sees this troubled twentysomething and understands what a raw deal he was given in life.  She befriends him and hopes to introduce him to his granddaughter.  Allyson too feels pity for Corey, but - rather astoundingly - the pair become a romantic item in spite of him suffering from mental health issues.  Then Corey has a very chance encounter with an in-hiding Meyers, who has been living in Haddonfield's sewers.  Rather inexplicably, the mass murderer takes pity on Corey and the two strike up a strange friendship that sends Corey down a path he will never be able to turn back from. 

Introducing yet another character into the already crowded mix of things in HALLOWEEN ENDS - a sequel that, just to remind you, is supposed to...well...end this series and close up the narrative threads with Laurie, Allyson, and Myers - takes some semblance of nerve on Green's part.  There's a thoughtfulness to the screenplay here that was hopelessly absent in HALLOWEEN KILLS, and having this sequel be more character and psychologically driven (to a fault) makes for an unexpectedly interesting watch.  Corey has had it extremely rough in life, and the child he was sitting for accidentally being killed (of no direct or pre-meditated fault of his own) makes him a sympathetic addition to this mythology.  Seeing him shunned by just about everyone in Haddonfield allows for our emotional buy-in (I mean, this is a town that was driven nearly made with rage in the last film), and Laurie trying to serve as a mentor or sorts to him gives the story some compelling forward momentum.  And Laurie has tried to heal from her physical and spiritual wounds suffered from Myers as well, which leads to her being more clingy and protective of the only family member she has left in Allyson.  When Corey takes a turn for the dark side and Laurie sees that this man is going to be another Myers incarnate for the town and a damning presence in Allyson's life she's forced to spring to action.  For the first 40-50 minutes The Shape is not even an entity in HALLOWEEN ENDS, but his incalculably large shadow looms large over everyone, which culminates in a chance meeting between him and Corey that propels the plot to another violent standoff, albeit this time with two insane parties. 

As intriguing as all of this sounds, the script begins to slowly unravel under the weight of some nonsensical choices, most of which revolve around the union of Allyson and Corey.  Green and his writing team can't seem to find a plausible reason why Allyson would fall head over heels in love with this creepy outsider that begins to display some toxically aggressive behavior towards others.  It becomes clear that Corey gets entrenched in Myers' madness and will eventually become another serial killer like him, but why doesn't Allyson run as fast and as far away from this brooding murderer-in-the-making?  Even when it's clear to her and Laurie that Corey is going to slash up Haddonfield alongside his new BFF in The Shape, Laurie still implausibly seems drawn to him, which just doesn't pass any logical smell test at all.  The whole Allyson/Corey love angle is pretty horribly underwritten overall and never once feels like an authentic union in the slightest, and the disjointed nature of HALLOWEEN ENDS - along with the last two films - leaves Green coming off like he can seen to find a healthy balance between being shrewdly introspective with the characters and themes and delivering on the type of stomach churning tension that made Carpenter's pioneering seventies film click in the first place.

And - sigh - just when you think Green and company are getting smart with the material it all takes a U-turn into sadistic savagery and disgusting glory kills.  HALLOWEEN ENDS is not as barbaric as the last sequel, but it serves up many stomach churning kills, like one deplorable one against a black radio DJ that's more nauseating than scary.  This unavoidably brings me to what's so wholly missing in all of these Green-led HALLOWEEN films: scares.  Carpenter may have invented the slasher genre overnight with the inaugural HALLOWEEN four decades ago, but his film owed more to Hitchcock in drumming up escalating dread and unease in audiences of the time.  Green's HALLOWEEN films are rarely frightening in the slightest.  At the end of the day, they have the trivial assembly line brutality of so many modern slashers.  Green is a great filmmaker, but he wallows in so many overused genre clichés and conventions here that his HALLOWEEN trilogy as a whole rarely has found a way to proudly segregate itself apart from an overcrowded pack.  The problem with HALLOWEEN ENDS is not (as many have labored to point out) that it's barely a HALLOWEEN film in how it avoids featuring Myers for long stretches.  The main issue here is that Green has some good and bold ideas that he wants to play with, but simply can't bring them forward to successful fruition while given the franchise a sense of a satisfying end. 

I kind of feel bad for Curtis.  She has been front and center as a marketing spokesperson for these new films and has helped lead the charge of introducing the HALLOWEEN mythology to new fans while trying to placate the wants and desires of old school Carpenter aficionados.  Lamentably, she's been somewhat inconsistently misused by Green over these three entries.  In the first she was an empowered and Sarah Connor-esque survivor/soldier that later became bed ridden in a hospital for most of HALLOWEEN KILLS (such a drastic miscalculation) and now has been given a meatier part that still gets sidelined by the needs of introducing new characters.  I would say that her presence - and thanklessly good performance - is what has compelled me though this series of new films, but HALLOWEEN ENDS does her - and viewers - a major disservice for how it starts off innovatively and then lumbers past the finish line to a finale that's more half baked and hastily handled than it is momentous.  HALLOWEEN ENDS ends with more of a whimper than a bang.  By the time the film cut to its end credits I was left wondering what all three of Green's films in unison have really built up to...and the answer is not much.  

Now that's scary. 

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