'Halloween Ends' review: Slasher saga ends on a fulfilling and bloody note
Courtesy of Universal
A series finale decades in the making, David Gordon Green’s ambitious trilogy capper, “Halloween Ends” once and for all puts the story of Michael Myers on ice. Or at least, that’s what he wants you to think. Disgreding the numerous and confusing sequels, and following the heels of 2018’s stellar requel/reboot, “Halloween” and it’s not-so-stellar-though-still-clever follow up “Halloween Kills,” “Ends'' tries posing the ultimate question around evil’s mortality while starkly changing the franchise’s temperature and making spicy, though effective creative decisions. But unlike “Kills,” which in hindsight added some gruesome slayings to the series archive and dutifully hinted at the final throwdown, “Ends'' adjusts the slasher formula and takes some major swings that ultimately pay off.
The biggest comes with the introduction of a new character in the film’s opening moments named Corey Cunningham (newcomer Rohan Campbell). Like Laurie Strode before him, Corey’s dispatched on Halloween to babysit a young kiddo just down the street. It’s 2019 and the locals are still feeling the aftermath of Myers’ previous rampage in Haddonfield, Illinois, the fictional town where this all began 40+ years ago. But even without Micheal Myers, who disappeared shortly after the events of “Kills,” his shadow casts a major presence. Like on Corey, who finds himself on the wrong end of a horrendous situation that’ll haunt him for the rest of his life as showcased during the film’s whirlwind cold open.
It’s a refreshing change of pace from the merciless brutality demonstrated in the previous installment; where instead of kicking things off with a bloody brawl, we witness a traumatic event with no, real, linkage to the “Halloween” canon or Michael Myers. You think it’ll go one way and then, boom, it quickly swerves. After directing three of these movies, Green certainly knows the rhythm and how to hold the audience in his grasp, but I found myself surprised at the decisions made: Corey ends up becoming a major character in an already stacked field. How could they find the time to squeeze this guy in? Turns out, rather smoothly.
Of course, it’s not just about Corey’s ascension in the “Halloween” lore, “Ends'' doesn't lose sight of the central storyline between Laure Strode’s healing and acceptance (she’s writing a memoir!) and Micheal’s viciousness. Horror royalty Jamie Lee Curits returns for what’s been publicly touted as her last match in the cage as Green fast-forwards the clock four years after “Kills” and puts a spotlight on how Laurie has made amends with her demons while also readying for a final standoff that’ll hopefully live up to the title and actually provide closure.
Writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride and Green understand the stakes and the much teased finale is certainly worth the price of admission, but “Ends” thrives on the world John Carpenter envisioned, by not being afraid to ask the terrifying question of what creates a monster? But in order to get there, “Ends” must first try making sense of several interconnected subplots (Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson, played by series staple Andi Matichak has a sizable role) and introducing pigs for slaughter. Among the potential victims are snarling marching band geeks, a cocky radio DJ, and a persnickety doctor/nurse duo. It’s not a spoiler to say that some or all of these people might be on the receiving end of the blade, but “Ends” concots some nifty death traps and surprises that rival “Final Destination” in terms of sheer creativity.
Once “Halloween Ends” begins exploring newfound territory in this dormant franchise, there’s no slowing down the train. The filmmakers make bold assertions on the mythos and legacy of Micheal Myers (who again is played expertly by Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) and try recontextualizing the franchise in an interesting, modern lens with major emphasis on mental wellness. Who knows if this really is the end, but it does put a nice cathric bookend on the Strode/Myers saga in a way completely unexpected. After all, you can’t keep a good boogeyman down, but for this moment, the series ends on a satisfying note.
HALLOWEEN ENDS is now playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.