Halloween Ends (2022)
The first Halloween, released in 1978, was supposed to be one and done. John Carpenter, who directed the movie and cowrote it with Debra hill, left it open-ended - Michael Myers escapes - but not so a sequel could happen. Rather, it was to leave the audience with a sense of unease, that this killer was still out there somewhere, and no one in Haddonfield, including Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), was safe.
In 1980 Sean S. Cunningham decided that, since Halloween made a lot of money, he would make a similar holiday-themed film, only this time there would be a lot more nudity and graphic violence. Friday the 13th, though a blatant copycat of Halloween, made a ton of money as well. Mustapha Akkad, who had produced Halloween, decided he needed a sequel, since he wasn't going to let an imitator make all the money. Therefore, Halloween II exists, still written by Carpenter and Hill but, since Carpenter had no interest himself in directing the movie, it went to Rick Rosenthal. Although it was nowhere near as effective as the first, Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis reprised their roles, even though Laurie Strode spent most of the movie in a coma. However, it once again finished the story, this time burning Michael alive.
Since that was it, Carpenter decided to do what he originally intended. Halloween III: Season of the Witch maintained the franchise name, but without Michael Myers. He was never intended to be a returning character, and only became one in the second because there was money to be made. Critics and audiences were furious that this had nothing to do with the first two films, but rather it was a straightforward b-movie about evil pagans using technology to create Halloween masks that would kill the wearers and bring about the apocalypse. It took many years but, even though it's not the greatest film of its type, it in no way deserved the reaction or reputation it got. However, the damage was done, and by Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers the killer was back in Haddonfield going after Laurie's daughter.
Halloween Ends is experiencing much of what Halloween III did at the time, and I am pretty sure that director and writer David Gordon Green and the team of cowriters on this, including Danny McBride, who had helped write the two preceding films, did this by design. Halloween Kills got a lot of blowback for the movie's tagline being repeated over and over throughout, but it also did the same thing that frustrated me in Halloween II, which was sideline Laurie in a hospital for a good portion of the movie. This time around they don't really do a movie completely free of Michael Myers, but he is definitely not the focus, even if Laurie gets to be a bigger part of the film.
A year after the events that took place in Halloween and Halloween Kills Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) is filling in as an emergency babysitter for Jeremy (Jaxon Goldenberg), the son of a rich couple Corey does lawn work for. Jeremy gets it in his head that he is the one in charge, and a prank he plays on Corey results in Jeremy's accidental death. Much of the town blames Corey despite the fact that he is acquitted for what happened, but it generally destroys any future he had of leaving Haddonfield. Three years later he finds himself working at his father's (Rick Moose) junkyard and dealing with his overbearing mother (Joanne Baron). After hurting his hand during an encounter with local teenage bully Terry (Michael Barbieri) and his friends, Laurie rescues Corey and takes him to the hospital where her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Martichak) now works.
Corey and Allyson hit it off, but after leaving a Halloween party Corey is again confronted by Terry, only this time he fights back and is thrown off an overpass. He survives, but soon runs into Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), who has been hiding out in the sewers for the last four years. Instead of killing Corey, Michael lets him go when he sees something familiar in him - something that Laurie also notices the next time she sees him. Concerned that whatever evil infected Michael is working its way into Corey, Laurie becomes concerned for Allyson's safety. It also becomes apparent to her that her old nemesis may not be gone after all.
I have seen reviews calling the movie boring, convoluted and hard to follow. In fact, I was not expecting a whole lot. I am one of those people that liked Halloween Kills. Sure, the chant may have been annoying and Laurie had next to nothing to do, but it was still better than Halloween II and had a number of characters I could care about, in addition to being quite bloody. It was nothing like the 2018 film, which I had said at the time (and still stand by) did not need a sequel and should have ended the series. Halloween Kills was made for the love of money rather than for the love of Halloween, but it could have been a lot worse.
Halloween Ends also exists because of the success of the 2018 film. There is little that I haven't seen done as well or better than other movies, but Green didn't need to do anything but phone it in and get it over with. As a result, like Halloween III, it is now being declared a travesty because it focuses on a toxic relationship between Corey and Allyson - with Allyson putting in most of the effort - and a man who has been driven to the point where his own personality is being replaced by wanting to be a strong, frightening force of nature like Myers. This main focus is at the expense of Myers being the main killer in the movie.
It may have some clunky dialog - the "he's going down a dark path" line almost became another "evil dies tonight" - but, to give a slight spoiler, the title delivers on its promise. As usual, what is being called bad writing, largely Myers being weaker than he had been before, is covered early on if attention is actually being paid to the movie. When Corey meets Myers the first time it is clear that Michael could kill him, but it also becomes clear that Myers, despite his resilience, is still human, and that all the abuse he has taken over the years is starting to catch up with him in his old age. What some forget is, even in the 2018 movie, Myers was 60 when he escaped from the bus transporting him. In 1978 he had been stabbed, shot and had fallen off a second story balcony. By the time Halloween Ends occurs he had been beaten, shot, stabbed and partially burned. No matter how powerful the evil that was driving him, and how strong he is, in the end he is just a man and age takes its toll.
I am satisfied with where this went and how it ended. I wouldn't be surprised if this series is resurrected again, most likely without Jamie Lee Curtis, especially if this continues the trend of turning a nice profit. This was the second time it was rebooted, and the first time it ignored the Halloween II revelation that Laurie was Michael's sister. Although there is good to be found in the other series - if one sticks with one, two and four of the originals, there's a decent story, as well as if one goes with one, two and then Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. In all honesty, to get the best result, the 1978 and 2018 together are still the best, with everything that has to happen contained within those two movies.
Will Halloween Ends get some sort of redemption in 20 or 30 years like Halloween III did? I am doubtful. I don't think it will be looked at as badly as the knee-jerk reactions of people upset that it didn't repeat the formula again. It has a few good kills, one in particular that was uncharacteristically hilarious, and Laurie isn't cheated out of a final battle both with Corey and with Michael. The way things are handled toward the end may be a bit ridiculous, but no more so than all the vigilante action in Halloween Kills, and definitely not out of tune with the in-story universe. Whatever ending it got was certain to disappoint someone, and once again, 40 years later, an audience and critical base that is constantly crying out for change is hypercritical when they get their wish.
Halloween Ends (2022)
Time: 111 minutes
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Rohan Campbell, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney
Director: David Gordon Green