‘Halloween Ends’ Review: Michael Myers Resurrected For An Effective Final Chapter, Again

Aaron Neuwirth reviews Halloween Ends, a solid final entry in director David Gordon Green's sequel trilogy to the original horror classic.
User Rating: 7

Whether or not we have yet another return of Michael Myers in the years to come, I am pleased with what director David Gordon Green has brought to Halloween. There is reverence for the franchise and ambition seen in his entries, especially with Halloween Ends, a fitting close to this trilogy within the series that started with the 2018 sequel. Yes, there have been mixed reactions to restarting the Halloween timeline (again) and daring to inject cynicism and social commentary more substantially, making me wonder how the fandom will react to a decidedly different Halloween with this latest final chapter. With that in mind, considering this is the 13th Halloween movie, the ways to push on the nature of evil still felt refreshing here, allowing for a satisfying epilogue.

Evil is one thing to keep in mind, but Green wants to explore the elements of what builds up to it, such as fear and anger this time around. Following the events of Halloween Kills, which between that and the previous film, amounted to the deaths of around 40-50 people, Michael Myers has disappeared. However, his brutality has left a mark on the town of Haddonfield. Halloween is still celebrated, but the community is well aware of the boogeyman.

Honestly, it would have been interesting if an examination of the town served as the basis of the entire film. Instead, there’s a primary focus on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and a young man named Corey (Rohan Campbell). We learn about Corey in the film’s opening, as a tragic situation turns him into the town pariah. The way he enters the orbit of Laurie and Allyson is fitting, as there’s a version of this story that allows these three to find ways to heal and evolve together. Of course, being a Halloween film, the Michael Myers of it all means the evil has not yet subsided in this town.

It’s interesting to see the horror sequels that want to factor in the events of the previous film in a significant way versus the ones that simply bring in a new cast to explore the same concept but bigger or in a new location. Halloween has managed to continue on and reboot itself so many times that it has accomplished both to varying degrees of success. Some of the sequels simply picked up where the previous film left off. Others focus on how the town or the people have changed since the last time Michael went after them. The 2018 film addressed Laurie’s PTSD (not unlike Halloween: H20) while also introducing a new generation of characters. Kills turned its exploration of trauma (#trauma) to a fever pitch of violence and mayhem. This concluding film is about providing some sense of closure to their journey while still revealing the forms evil can take.

Given the success of these recent films, it’s of little surprise that Green and co-writers Danny McBride, Paul Brad Logan, and Chris Bernier were given seemingly even more free reign to make whatever finale they thought would fit. One of the best things I can say about Halloween Ends is that it absolutely feels like a film from the director of All the Real Girls or Snow Angels. While it may throw off horror hounds looking to see a movie all about Michael Myers doing his thing, I appreciate how a good chunk of the film’s first half could have a viewer forget they’re watching a Halloween movie, given the intense focus on character.

Now, that’s not to say the film has no room for thrills or a way of establishing atmosphere. One of the best aspects of these recent entries is the technical skill brought to the proceedings. If anything, it’s impressive to think of how distinct these three Halloween films are in their look and feel, despite coming from the same filmmaker. At the same time, each has a lot to offer regarding the camera work, art direction, the way violence is depicted (yes, this film has some elaborate kills in it), and, of course, the score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies.

For Halloween Ends, much of the film feels rooted in early 80s horror and Carpenter films beyond his 1978 classic. Where Halloween Kills made an effort to pack as much chaos as it could into the frame, this follow-up is a far more intimate entry. With that said, the editing has a level of menace, sometimes jerking the audience around to remind them they’re in a horror film. It’s where the eventual terror comes from that is both a surprise as well as familiar.

As stated, this film explores the nature of evil in a few ways. Compared to seeing an entire community react to this, there’s a more internal focus. The downside of that means there’s not a whole lot of room for Michael Myers. Even when we do see him, he’s more of a means to an end. Ends does invite the idea teased in Kills about how he becomes more powerful by feeding on the town’s fearful energy, but that’s applied differently, perhaps inviting comparisons to It.

Balancing that out, however, is keeping Laurie more involved this time. This character means a lot to Curtis, and there’s plenty she’s investing into where she would be as a survivor who has suffered so much loss at the hands of The Shape. This comes through in her bond with her granddaughter and Will Patton’s Deputy Frank Hawkins. A different film would more closely track their relationship, but it still is Halloween. Just as effective are moments of Laurie showing a level of guilt, given her involvement with Michael Myers.

Without delving too much deeper into what transpires, plenty of praise should go to Matichak and, more notably, Campbell. Some bold choices are made in watching characters deal with what it means to be wrapped up in the memories and environment infected by Michael Myers. It makes for some interesting ways to push and pull against what these two are capable of together, almost enough to have me overlook how the film still has to cater to what a Halloween movie ultimately needs. With that in mind, the fascination this film has with Corey, coupled with a strong performance, lets the film dig into ideas that should ideally excite fans who have been tracking what Michael Myers has represented over the decades.

No, this is not an art film disguised as Halloween; it simply marches to a different beat that focuses on the sorrow and downtrodden individuals who get extra jumpy toward the end of October. Still, this movie is not without a sense of fun. There’s plenty of humor and moments bound to allow plenty of viewers to react accordingly. Even a major showdown between Michael and Laurie hits in ways that recall the past and provide some new, satisfying beats. In fact, all of the violent horror on display is depicted in brutal and varied ways, which is what one generally wants on some level with this kind of thing. It only helps to see a certain level of control on display.

Over the decades, this franchise has seen creepy kids, creepy houses, various pranks, mystical cults, whatever Dangertainment is, and other concepts to keep the series fresh. I’m a fan of the Halloween films more than almost any other slasher series (Child’s Play has managed to stand firm over the decades). Having a new set of films that managed to take the legacy sequel angle and run with it in some intriguing ways and new directions ultimately worked out for me. I don’t know where Michael Myers can go from here, but even if the boogeyman lives on, I was happy with how this version closed out.

Halloween Ends opens in theaters and will be available to stream on Peacock starting October 14, 2022.

7
Good
Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the African American Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at Variety, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Firstshowing.net, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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