Halloween Ends (2022)

OCTOBER 11, 2022


It's funny: on the same day I was confirmed for a screening of Halloween Ends, the new 4K UHD set of 6-8 arrived at my door. This odd release (which is spread across and finishes two of the series' continuities and contains none of the films that are setting up said continuities) finishes the main franchise's conversion to the 4K format (leaving only the two Rob Zombie remakes), so Halloween "Ended" twice for me in the span of a few hours. And in Resurrection, Laurie Strode famously died - would I be seeing this character die yet again?

Well obviously I won't be spoiling that much, but it's impossible to talk about this movie without getting into something that's been more or less hidden from the marketing (though I feel one could suss it out if they put enough thought into what they were seeing and what they WEREN'T seeing). So if you want a totally clean experience, best to just bow out now and come back later, but I'll leave you with one spoiler-free thought: if you thought Kills was too much of a swing (and a miss), then you best not even bother with this one. This one swings even harder, to the point where you can conceivably forget for a long stretch that it's even a Halloween movie. If your ideal entry has lots of Michael Myers doing lots of Michael Myers-y things, this film is not for you.

(FINAL SPOILER WARNING! Plot details will be "spoiled" but I will not get into the film's ending.)

OK, for those still here, you've presumably seen the trailer or read enough about the movie (or maybe even saw it by now; it's posting before release but these reviews are here forever!) and thus have caught wind of a character named Corey Cunningham. Given John Carpenter's continued involvement the name Cunningham (as in Arnie) can't be a coincidence; he's very much like the Christine protagonist: awkward, shy, bullied, etc. His problems - as is the case with many a Haddonfield resident - began on a Halloween night, though I'll refrain from saying how (if you've seen the movie, I think you can agree it's one of the film's best shocks) except to note that they were in 2019, and now it's 2022 - a four year jump from the events of the previous two films.

It's an odd shift that the movie never really smooths over; for starters we barely know Corey enough to understand how he's changed since then, but it's just as equally "off" that we get no sense of how Karen's death affected Laurie. The movie really needed something like (stick with me here) Avengers: Endgame, where they get their revenge on Thanos in the first 15 minutes and THEN spring the jump forward on us. When we first see Laurie and Allyson here, they're both seemingly over it - Laurie's even decorating her (new) house for Halloween and baking a pumpkin pie! Since the last film ended literally on Karen's death, we've never even seen how Allyson got the news, only a few hours after her dad died, that she lost her mother too. It's the most character driven entry in this trilogy (which has already been more focused on the characters of the three women more than any other entry in the series save maybe Zombie's Halloween II), but it's also bizarrely missing a big piece. (That Karen is represented from a photo taken during a deleted scene of the 2018 film almost seems like a weird acknowledgement that they know they're just kind of brushing her off.)

But anyway, eventually Corey's path crosses with Laurie's, when he's being bullied by some local jerks over his Halloween past, which naturally earns her sympathy. He has an injury, and Allyson is now working for HMH, so she successfully plays matchmaker by bringing him there. Allyson and Corey bond over his injury and also her busted car (he in turn works at an auto shop/junkyard, another Christine nod), go on a date, etc. Meanwhile, Laurie reconnects with Frank (my man Will Patton) and seems to have her shit together for once! She's even writing a memoir about her ordeals; one hopes she can get Sidney "Out of Darkness" Prescott to write the foreword.

You might notice that I haven't mentioned Michael Myers. Well, that's because... he just isn't in it for a while. He makes exactly one non-killing appearance in the first hour (yes, HOUR) of the film, and it's an important scene, yes, but given that this is supposedly the series finale it's very strange how the marquee villain sits most of it out. Did they learn nothing from Jason Goes To Hell? Then again (OK, final spoiler warning!) maybe that's also intentional, because in that one appearance he seems to transfer his evil to Corey, much like JGTH's makers thought the best sendoff for their own boogeyman was to leave him on the sidelines for most of the movie. But at least there he had that great opening in the cabin! Again, this is why I feel the movie really could have used a 2018-set prologue where Laurie (and Allyson, perhaps) tracks him down after he murdered Karen, maybe let him kill some rando (or even Lindsey, who returns but has no purpose), and then let Laurie "kill" him in the usual (read: not effective) manner. Instead they just say he disappeared for all those years, which really rang false to me. He's just in a sewer tunnel in town - we know Haddonfield PD isn't the best police force in the world, but are they really so ineffective that they'd just shrug him off after he murdered over 40 people in a single night? Didn't they, you know, look?

Anyway, yeah: Corey takes on villain duties for the bulk of the film, sometimes even when wearing Myers' mask (so in addition to JGTH, there's a little New Beginning in there). I'm not opposed to this, I should stress - I think it's an interesting idea and I've certainly seen the real McCoy do his thing enough in 11 other films. My issue is both the placement (again, in the "last" film) and the awkward way we return to this world after Kills, where it feels like we missed a movie in between. I know Covid forced them to change plans a bit, but I can't imagine any scenario where they couldn't have just had a less awkward first act that could solve a lot of the movie's issues (shrugging off Karen, Myers' long absence, etc.). I mean, the movie's almost two hours long, brings back every surviving character (not that there are a lot), introduces several new people and locations - it doesn't FEEL like a movie that's hamstrung by the pandemic in any way. To sum up, they're already asking a lot of the fanbase to accept a movie that doesn't have their "hero" in it for the entire first half (and has him split duties for the second half), but they ask even more of us by doing it in a way that seems needlessly clumsy.

Once it gets going, it works really well, and will satisfy folks who were burned by Kills. It's not on kill overload (it's got a decent body count, but well south of the previous film's record high) and there's no "Evil dies tonight" or anything like that - it's just the usual brand of carnage, highlighted by a sequence at the junkyard where the Shape takes on four jerk teens. The movie occasionally dips into the weird melodramatic dialogue that David Gordon Green and his writers seemingly love (most prominently in a bar scene with a victim's father), but never to the point of derailing the whole thing like in the previous film. It doesn't even have any humor of note; a little bit of cutesy stuff between Laurie and Frank and a couple lines from Corey's father are the only attempts in the entire movie at making the audience smile.

And (not really a spoiler here, it's in the trailer and also obvious) the big showdown between Laurie and Michael is very satisfying, although it has very little buildup - you might not even realize that you're watching the climax until it's, well, VERY OBVIOUSLY the climax. I chalk that up to the lengthy setup period and the fact that most movies are seemingly over two hours now; by the time Myers is actually up and about and doing his thing, there's not much of the (1:50) movie left, but without knowing the runtime and just going off the "feel" of the film's pacing you might assume there's another half hour or so to go when he finds himself facing Laurie again. It doesn't help that Lindsey just disappears from the story at a certain point, and it's not until the very end I even realized that Frank was still working as a cop since there was no police presence in the movie (Sheriff Cowboy Hat only appears in two shots in what's essentially an epilogue); after taking forever to get going, they suddenly start racing through things.

The good news is: the stuff that works? It works REALLY well. Jamie Lee is terrific, seemingly fired up after spending so much of the last movie in bed (and perhaps a bit energized knowing it's almost certainly, definitely, for realsies no takebacks, the last time she'll play Laurie Strode), and Rohan Campbell (Corey) is the rarest of things in this series: a sympathetic young male character. Even when he starts doing awful things, it's hard not to root for him to shake it off and beat his demons, knowing they were triggered by just the absolute worst luck (twice!). Patton doesn't have much to do but he seems happy to be there (and his puppy dog affection for Laurie remains the most endearing thing to me), and Andi Matichak has finally gotten to really shine as a lead without being overshadowed by Curtis (in 2018) and the entire damn town (Kills). And with what little he has to do, James Jude Courtney remains an effective Shape - there's still no stalking of note, but at this point it'd almost be weird if there was since Green has shown no interest in it in his previous two outings. And - probably goes without saying - the Carpenter/Carpenter/Davies score is terrific, with Corey's character giving them some new motifs and one big cue in particular (called "The Procession", already available on streaming) is as epic as it should be given the scene it accompanies.

But only patient viewers will be rewarded, and you gotta deal with some weird plot points (Allyson was apparently dating a cop that's like fifteen years older than her? Again, anyone invested in her character's journey over these three films really got robbed of a big chunk re: Karen's death and how it affected her) and some strange "What year is this?" kind of writing (for example, everyone in town seemingly listens to the same FM station? In 2022?). Tone/pacing wise (meaning, ignoring the plot points) it almost feels like THIS should be the middle entry, setting up a Kills-like action packed finale, but instead it's more like an extended epilogue, which might work if the previous film didn't have such a gutpunch cliffhanger. It's bound to be the most polarizing yet of this trilogy (which is saying something!), and I am crushed that it's also heading to Peacock simultaneously, as that means a lot of the angry takes are going to be from people who weren't even fully paying attention to it and/or having the experience interrupted by ads.

I guess the best way to put it is this: it's a bad Michael Myers movie, but ultimately a good Laurie Strode one. Your mileage will vary depending on whose presence is more important to you in these things. And if you're like me, who assigns them (and Loomis, but he's not an option) equal value, it's just kind of bewildering at times, but ultimately ends in a satisfying way, enough to qualify it as a win. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to forgive a lot of clunkiness to get there. And here's hoping that "Halloween 14" is a return to the anthology format the series was meant to have in the first place, because there is clearly nothing less to do with these characters and I want everyone who is still alive at the end of this one to just enjoy the rest of their lives offscreen. They've earned it! Leave them alone! But don't remake them, either! Our affinity for them is mainly due to the actors who played them, something Rob Zombie clearly didn't realize. If a remake must be the way to go, do it without Loomis, Laurie, etc. The common complaint about Halloween III is "Where's Michael Myers?!?", not "Where's Laurie Strode?!?", so lean into it if going anthology isn't financially viable (though, I feel it'd be more accepted now especially since H3 appreciation has soared over the years. And if they can get Carpenter and his boys to do the scoring...).

What say you?


  1. Terrific review. I really didn’t like it but I admire the chances it took.

  2. Arnie didn't seem like the only "Cunningham" Green (and Carpenter) had on the brain with "Halloween Ends". Both times I saw the film, especially after learning about the podcast Carpenter did with Bret Easton Ellis, it struck me how, as the plot progressed, the Corey character felt like a thinly veiled commentary on the likes of filmmakers like Sean S. Cunningham and what happens when they try to eclipse stories like "Halloween"'s with "Friday the 13th". Several people I spoke to after both screenings had similar thoughts about it, too.

  3. Love the review and always appreciate your take on flicks. I enjoyed the swings the movie took even though they mean some characters don’t get the time/ability to process events of previous entries and seemingly just fall by the wayside of the story being told. Overall I saw it as a win of a flick. Not perfect, but enough there to like. I think in time people will come around to it after the initial “loved it/hated it” reactions of seeing it for the first time. This franchise has so much baggage and expectations that anything billed as an “end” was going to be polarizing. Hopefully we do finally get an anthology approach going forward.

  4. It would have been funny to end it with Laurie actually turning out to be MM's sister.

  5. I agree with your opinion on the first act. Maybe they should have had Laurie kill Mike first and then his "evil" makes its way to Corey. So then the 2nd act is Corey grappling with becoming evil and then 3rd is Laurie having to confront something she buried a long time ago and double that stress with knowing it's Corey she's hurting too.


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