Halloween Ends–Strong final act’s surprising choices explore the nature of evil

Review by C.J. Bunce

Director David Gordon Green’s 2018 movie Halloween was great fun (reviewed here), a welcome callback to the low-budget filmmaking style of the 1970s, a sequel/reboot of the original horror film that set off a new era of scream queens and slasher horror.  Halloween Kills (reviewed here) was at least as good as the first act, taking a turn to revisit the nature of nostalgia that had audiences clamoring for shows like Stranger Things and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, all while forging a superb tribute to the characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.  Surprising audiences once again, for Halloween Ends Green tapped a new writer, Paul Brad Logan, who delivers an unexpected mix of storytelling influences–a truly unique slasher entry that leads to something horror audiences have been looking forward to since a Captain Kirk mask first launched a horror icon nearly 45 years ago: The End.  The perfect movie for the season, Halloween Ends is now streaming on Peacock.

The commonality of the trilogy has been Green as director, but each of his three movies provided something for every segment of horror fandom.  2018’s Halloween revisited the origin of the horror genre with the pursuit, death, and rebirth of its own homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Halloween Kills turned the genre on its head, at times almost parodying what works and what doesn’t in the slasher flick.  The plot of Halloween Ends will come as a complete surprise, as Green throws aside Michael Myers for the bulk of the film, pursuing instead the toll he caused, and how evil begets evil.

Cinematically Halloween Ends borrows subtext from Hitchcock movies, especially Strangers on a Train and Psycho.  It pulls some of the zanier B-movie tropes from legions of movies the original 1978 movie Halloween inspired, full of the requisite cheap startles and jumps, and even teasing Final Destination frights and some oddly placed supernatural Chucky business.  Smart characters make bad choices and get themselves into inescapable situations, straight out of movies from Friday the 13th to Scream.  Murders are unnecessarily brutal and gory (because special effects artists need to show off, don’t they?).  Realities of disturbed youth of varying ages from grade school to high school question the origins of evil in the latest examination of nature vs. nurture.  Are enough hints provided to indicate the first death in the film might have averted another Michael Myers?

It’s a revenge story that has its problems, but it also does more than your typical slasher flick to dig into what makes bad people bad and evil people worse.  The story has a new villain–a character entirely new to the series–which will disappoint many fans.  Yet we’ve seen the kind of disturbing relationship between the series’ star villain and the new villain in slasher sequels before, and even among the darkest true crime stories.

More subtext dabbles in the endless cycle of bullying and victims and the differences among people who are “different.”  Look close enough and you may find parallels from the superhero genre (recall the Joker’s cry, “you can’t kill me, you made me” as Logan’s story questions whether Laurie Strode re-created Michael Myers, and thereby created the movie’s new villain–character after character blames the victims.

For those after another cheap return to Haddonfield, Illinois, this isn’t it.

Director David Gordon Green shows again why he is the real deal.  Jamie Lee Curtis’s heroine-victim of the franchise Laurie Strode gets a worthy send-off.  Will Patton’s Officer Hawkins returns with something less than the first film of the trilogy but also provides something more valuable to the story. For nostalgia’s sake, Kyle Richards (The Watcher in the Woods) returns as Lindsay, now a friend to Laurie.  Laurie’s grand-daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) gets far more to do and her own character arc.  And The Hardy Boys and iZombie actor Rohan Campbell (almost a ringer for a young Tom Berenger) arrives in the franchise as Corey, himself a victim, and a love interest for Allyson.  The Allyson and Corey relationship is such a big part of the film that you could call this a “bad love,” “toxic romance,” dipping its toes into the Bonnie and Clyde, Badlands, or Natural Born Killers formula.  And keep your eye out for one of the strangest returns of a 1980s soap opera doctor actor as Allyson’s boss.

The music by John Carpenter with his son Cody is again a solid upgrade and expansion of John’s original music.  The vibe is different, but it works.

If you’re after a 1980s-style Halloween fix with an interesting and surprising update, don’t miss Halloween Ends–now streaming on Peacock.

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