|Director: David Gordon Green |
|Screenplay: Paul Brad Logan & Chris Bernier & Danny McBride & David Gordon Green (based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill)|
|Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie), Andi Matichak (Allyson), James Jude Courtney (The Shape), Rohan Campbell (Corey), Will Patton (Frank), Jesse C. Boyd (Officer Mulaney), Michael Barbieri (Terry), Destiny Mone (Stacy), Joey Harris (Margo), Marteen (Billy), Joanne Baron (Joan)|
|MPAA Rating: R|
|Year of Release: 2022|
Halloween Ends, the final entry in David Gordon Green’s trilogy of much-belated sequels to John Carpenter’s seminal slasher-thriller Halloween (1978), is commendable for its ambition, although said ambition is relentlessly stretched to the breaking point by shoddy plotting, confusing characters, and a general lack of focus. It is without doubt the weirdest of Green’s Halloween films, although it still pales in comparison to the utterly bizarre Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) and Rob Zombie’s hallucinogenic Halloween II (2009), both of which this new series of films conveniently ignores (along with all of the other previous Halloween sequels, for that matter).
Set several years after the events in Halloween Kills (2021), which took place on the same night as Halloween (2018), Ends finds perennial survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in a completely different place in life. No longer the PTSD-addled warrior-in-waiting, she has settled into a new, Martha Stewart-esque life in her hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, with an HGTV-ready Victorian home, lots of baking in the kitchen, and time spent penning her memoirs. She lives with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), who lost both her parents to the knife of the indominable Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) in the previous films and now works as a nurse. Myers has disappeared after the last installment, which leaves a huge gap that the film’s quartet of writers (Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and director David Gordon Green) fill with a new and initially unrelated plotline involving Corey (Rohan Campbell), a young man whose tragic story involves the horrible, accidental death of a child was babysitting several years earlier (this backstory is depicted in the film’s opening sequence, and it is so well done and genuinely shocking that it immediately establishes an expectation that the rest of the film fails to fulfill).
Rattled by his own tragedy and perennially shunned by the Haddonfield community (who is always looking for a scapegoat given all the trauma it has been through), Corey is a sulking victim who nonetheless strikes up a romance with Allyson, partially at Laurie’s suggestion. The only problem is that Corey is living on a knife’s edge, and it doesn’t take much to push him over (in this case, literally pushed over a bridge by a gang of bullies). The film takes a make-it-or-break-it turn when Corey finds himself in the sewer and comes face to face with Michael Myers, who has been living down there for several years. What exactly happens at this point is really anyone’s guess, but for reasons either psychological or supernatural or both, Corey quickly morphs into a serial killer—Michael’s heir apparent?—while still courting Allyson and raising Laurie’s suspicions. It is as if the film wants to take the story into Stephen King territory—Corey has been compared by more than a few to Arnie, the nerd-turned-psycho in Christine, which John Carpenter directed in 1983, and he also feels cut from the same cloth as the Nazi-obsessed teen-turned-serial killer in Apt Pupil, which Bryan Singer adapted in 1998—but because there was no real set-up in the earlier films, Corey’s story feels like a detour, rather than a natural thematic development. There are some good ideas in here, much better than Halloween Kills’ strained mob-mentality political subtext, but it is muddled and badly written—disjointed and random.
In this respect, Green’s Halloween trilogy suffers from the same apparent problem as Disney’s post-Lucas Star Wars trilogy, as they both feel as if they were made up on the fly, with each new film moving the series narrative forward in unexpected ways that then have to be force-fit with what came before. They don’t feel like an organic trajectory, but rather three separate films that have been more or less forced to work together to create the vague appearance of coherence when, in fact, there is none. Of course, what everyone will be waiting for (and what the marketing has emphasized) in Halloween Ends is the final showdown between Laurie and Michael, a concluding smackdown three (or thirteen) movies in the making. And, while such a showdown does occur, because so much of the film’s interest and focus has been diverted to the Corey narrative, it feels like more of an afterthought than a series-ending culmination. It is commendable that Green tried to keep his films from sinking into the been-there-done-that tedium of traditional horror sequelitis. The film’s downfall, then, is not its lack of ambition, but rather its inability to give dramatic and thematic shape to the ideas it does have.
Copyright © 2022 James Kendrick
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