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Review: Halloween Ends

October 30, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Halloween Ends is the third film in director David Gordon Green’s reboot trilogy that began with Halloween in 2018, a legacy sequel that saw Jamie Lee Curtis return to the role of Laurie Strode, the babysitter who first evaded masked killer Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s 1978 original.

After the slightly diminishing returns of last year’s Halloween Kills, which pretty much just set its sights on being a gnarly little slasher, Green switches gears entirely with Ends. This isn’t Green simply offering another Michael Myers rampage (though we do get a bit of that as well), but rather a surprising and ambitious look at how the violence and terror inflicted by him continues to reverberate through the town of Haddonfield.

In fact, Michael Myers (who is once again played by James Jude Courtney, credited as “The Shape”) is barely even the main focus here. It’s more about the shadow of him instead. The film makes the bold choice to introduce a new character, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), who is involved in a tragic accident involving a boy (Jaxon Goldenberg) he is babysitting that we see in the opening flashback to Halloween night in 2019.

Following this prologue, we then cut to four years later. After the death of her daughter (Judy Greer), Laurie has settled into a more normal life in Haddonfield with her adult granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). She is working on a book about her life as a survivor of Michael Myers, but many people in town still unfairly blame her for his return, with them desperately needing somewhere to direct their lingering pain and anger in the absence of “the boogeyman.”

Meanwhile, Corey continues to face judgement from a town out for revenge, with him experiencing constant bullying and ostracization, as he starts to form a bond with Allyson built around their mutual understanding of having experienced traumatic events first-hand. As the apparent finale of the Strode Saga, Halloween Ends is a film that has proven divisive with many audiences and fans. A lot of people seemingly wanted a straight-forward showdown between Laurie and Michael, but I actually found the way that Green breaks the franchise mold with the Corey storyline to be surprisingly interesting.

Green isn’t interested in redoing the straight carnage of Halloween Kills, but rather crafting a story about cycles of violence, and how unhealed trauma keeps building up and has the potential to turn victims into villains. Where Halloween Kills introduced themes about the dangers of vigilante justice with the entire town turning into an angry, violent mob (an imperfect metaphor, mind you, considering the genuine threat posed by Michael Myers), Ends builds on these themes. In fact, every bad thing that happens is from a cascading domino effect of a town that is not ready or able to let go of it’s pain.

Sure, not every aspect of the storytelling works equally well. The film does face a bit of an uphill battle in terms of introducing a brand new character for the first time in a third instalment (though Campbell’s at times surprisingly sympathetic performance helps Corey feel fleshed out), and the inevitable return of Michael Myers can feel almost like a second thought. But Halloween Ends is a film that so thoroughly breaks the expected franchise mold that it can’t help but be interesting, and I appreciated a lot of what Green is trying to do with it.

The film has more on its mind than most third films, let alone thirteenth films (counting the two Rob Zombie remakes) in a decades-old franchise, taking a somewhat unconventional path of building to its final showdown. Despite the current backlash, I have a pretty good feeling that Halloween Ends will get reappraised over time and come to be appreciated as a solid end to this chapter of the saga. You can already count me among the film’s defenders.

Halloween Ends is now playing in theatres.

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