Released: 13th October
Seen: 12th October
In 1978, John Carpenter changed the world of horror films and indeed cinema as a whole when he released Halloween. A simple but intense slasher film, Carpenter’s film was not only a technological triumph, thanks to its use of what would become known as the Steadicam shot, but one of the most tension-filled horror films to ever exist. Naturally, it spawned sequels, some good and some god-awful before eventually being revitalised in 2018 with another film called Halloween that asked the simple question “What would Laurie be like in the aftermath of such a traumatic night” and it was a genuinely great re-entry to the franchise.
This would eventually lead to Halloween Kills, a film that is bad on almost every level and really made it seem like this revival was going to completely fail. Well now we’re finally at Halloween Ends, and when given the choice of ending with a whimper or a bang this film decides to end by putting a chicken on its head and doing the rumba… AKA, going a little batshit insane in a way that’s not exactly bad but is certainly confronting.
Halloween Ends takes place about 4 years after the events of Halloween Kills with the town trying to maintain a sense of normalcy after everyone went a little nuts last time. Things have settled into a rhythm, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is working on a book about her experiences, her granddaughter Alyson (Andi Matichak) is trying to work on getting a promotion at work and is about to begin a relationship with a local boy named Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). Corey has his own tragic backstory where the town thinks he murdered a kid back in 2019 and the treatment from the town might be just enough to send Corey down his own dark path… a path where he might run into Michael, who is still out there just waiting for his chance to come and finish what he began so many years ago.
The hard thing about Halloween Ends is that the elements of it that are genuinely fascinating are elements of major twists that would be unfair to reveal so this is going to be just a little more vague than usual but conceptually there’s a lot going on here. Jamie Lee Curtis has repeatedly brought up that this film is about the aftermath of trauma and sure enough, she wasn’t kidding. Halloween Ends shows many different responses to trauma, from people trying to move on and live their lives to those who might choose instead to blame the victim to those who just might be pushed down a darker path because of the trauma of their past.
Halloween Ends gives us a view of every possible response to severe trauma and explores it within the world of Halloween, leading to some fascinating character beats, particularly for Laurie. It also lets them touch on major elements of the Me Too movement, in particular the idea of how people would much rather accuse the victim of leading someone on instead of actually confronting the real horror (as happens several times with people accusing Laurie of somehow inducing Michael’s murderous rage). It also shows that the kind of trauma that this town has been through can create a constant sense of fear in everyone from random kids to the town sheriff. It’s an interesting story to tell in this world, one that feels all too relatable regarding how women’s trauma is treated by society.
It’s also fascinating watching the story of Corey Cunningham, who is almost as important to this story as Laurie Strode is. His story of seemingly being corrupted by the evil of Michael Myers is fascinating, an idea reminiscent of something that was hinted at way back in Halloween 4 and it leads to some genuinely interesting ideas being explored about abuse and how people can change after a horrific event. His story slides in fairly nicely to the franchise and builds on some previous ideas in a way that might offer a new way for the franchise to go should someone try to make more after this.
Now, you might have noticed by this point that Michael Myers himself hasn’t really been brought up that much and that’s because he’s kind of a non-entity in Halloween Ends. He barely even appears in it and when he does it’s either for the big fight between him and Laurie that we all know this film will inevitably build to or for scenes where he’s just kind of a joke.
They take Michael Myers, one of the most intimidating intense villains of all time and just kind of brush him off to the side until he’s needed for the climax that goes from dramatic to hilarious. In theory, this is to focus on the trauma of the town, in practice it kind of makes you wonder why anyone was ever scared of this guy when he can seemingly be so easily pushed aside. The only character who has less to do might be Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), who spends most of her time in this film behind a bar handing out drinks.
The script of Halloween Ends is also not great, alternating between intellectual monologues delivered by Jamie Lee Curtis and hilariously bad dialogue that at times comes out of nowhere. The tone of the piece isn’t great, some scenes are so poorly thought out that they end up just being more funny than scary and some don’t even link up that well. The only character who seems to have anything consistently good going for them is Laurie and most of that feels like it’s just down to Jamie Lee Curtis being so damn good that she managed to spin gold out of anything thrown her way.
In fact, it’s Jamie who is the biggest positive element of this movie, her performance is genuinely great and every time she’s on screen Halloween Ends actually feels like it’s managing to work. If this truly is the final time that we’ll see Jamie in this role, and she’s been pretty adamant that it will be no matter what the hell they offer her, then at least she gets to go out with some dignity intact even if the film around her doesn’t have much of it to spare.
The big problem here is just that the film is clearly trying to be too complicated for its own good. Halloween is a very specific kind of horror film, one that works largely when things are simple. All the best movies in the franchise tend to be the ones that stick pretty closely to the simple idea of “Guy in William Shatner mask who stalks babysitters”. When the films try to get a little more elaborate, that’s when things start to crumble and this film really tried to get as elaborate as possible with its ideas and while they’re certainly interesting to think about, it doesn’t lead to a great film.
Halloween Ends is certainly not as bad as Halloween Kills, mostly because it has some sort of forward momentum and feels like it has a reason to exist, but it’s still not that great. This might be the most middle-of-the-road Halloween movie of the franchise, the one that just sits between the franchise at its best and the franchise at its worst. Conceptually it has a lot of great ideas that it just doesn’t explore that well, maybe because it decided to explore them all in this film instead of maybe setting things up in previous films to make things flow a little better.
It might not be the ending that this franchise deserved, honestly kinda feels like they should’ve ended this whole thing with the 2018 Halloween, but it’s an ending that’s definitive enough to see the story of Laurie Strode end in a way that’s not completely humiliating for the character, which is at least something worth being happy about.