Synopsis: Laurie Strode has retired after the last events in Haddonfield and writes her memoirs about experiences with serial killer Michael Myers, in which she processes her emotional world. At the same time, her granddaughter Allyson meets a young man who has a dark past.
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Will Patton, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle, Stephanie McIntyre, Rohan Campbell, James Jude Courtney, Candice Rose, Michele Dawson
Director: David Gordon Green
Running Length: 111 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: There’s a silence in the very last moments of Halloween Ends that feels like years of moviemaking exhaling one final time. It’s a powerful few seconds and, when viewed with an audience that’s followed along with heroine Laurie Strode since 1978 when she was terrorized by vicious killer Michael Myers, incredibly cathartic. Laurie has gone through a lot to get to Halloween Ends, and so have ardent fans who have waded through this franchise’s highs and lows. Like its central boogeyman, the Halloween films started with power, were pronounced dead, sprang back to life, died again, were revived, vanished, and found renewal recently as part of a refreshed trilogy that concludes a year after a pathetic sequel most loyal fans turned their backs on immediately.
I was so high on our first return to the world of Laurie Strode in 2018’s Halloween that I was shocked by the dismal and deranged Halloween Kills. Gone were the attempts at fleshing out what a shell-shocked survivor would look like 40 years on…and how their tormentor would react if given a chance to attack again. Instead, it was just pure brutality with no purpose. And while the sequel made good money, the fans voiced their displeasure.
Make no mistake, director David Gordon Green and his co-writers Danny McBride, Chris Bernier, and Paul Brad Logan spent time (and reshoots) this past year course-correcting based on the feedback they received. Whether that was solely on the demands of Universal Studios and Blumhouse or due to fan reaction can’t be specified completely; the gnarly and garish road Halloween Kills started to travel has been replaced with pavestone in Halloween Ends. The result is a smoother ride overall, save for a few bumpy sections and one large pothole created by the writers that wind up standing in the way of the people we came to see.
A year after the events of the first two films (which occurred on the same night in 2018), Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell, Broken Diamonds) agrees to be a last-minute babysitter for the Allen family, watching mischievous son Billy for the evening. While Michael Myers vanished in 2018 shortly after killing Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer, Lady of the Manor), the threat of his return still haunts the town’s streets. On this night, the biggest problem Corey has is Billy being a handful, but when an innocent game turns deadly, it sets into motion events that will follow the young man for the next three years until the story picks up again in 2022.
By then, we reconnect with Laurie Strode (Curtis, Knives Out), who has decided to stop living in the darkness and not spend her life in fear of a killer that attacks randomly and hasn’t been seen in over four years. Living with daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, Son) and getting together regularly with Lindsay Travis (Kyle Richards) while still nursing a crush on former sheriff/Karen’s dad (Will Patton, The Forever Purge), she’s writing a memoir on surviving trauma and taking some of her own advice. The town doesn’t forget the evil she brought back, though, and she’s often reminded of her part in the deaths and legacy of the second night of terror Myers brought on Haddonfield.
With Allyson working at Haddonfield hospital hoping for a promotion, there’s not much time for a boyfriend, but when Laurie spots Corey being bullied by younger high school punks, she takes a liking to him and introduces the two. It turns out to be a good match for everyone. Allyson and Corey connect, Laurie’s guilt over Michael destroying Allyson’s family subsides, and Allyson feels like she can move forward in her life for the first time. Even so, during hope for the new, there is lurking darkness growing that will soon become unstoppable.
It’s hard to talk more from here without revealing Halloween Ends’ second and third-act developments, but they offer some interesting twists to what audiences are likely expecting. To some, this might be a refreshing change of pace from the sheer fan service paid in 2018 and the grime of 2021, while others may balk at the filmmakers attempting to over-psychoanalyze characters with shallow bottoms. I landed somewhere in the middle, but I think over time, I’ll appreciate what Green and company achieved here, a way to tie up loose ends while setting several characters (and actors) free to explore new outlets.
If you’re like me, you missed Curtis in the previous film, where she was primarily confined to a hospital bed. She’s back in full force here, and it is unquestionably her movie, even when the focus isn’t expressly on her. Laurie is never far from the minds and hearts of anyone in the film or watching it. That says something about the stamina of what Curtis has created and refined over the years. I appreciate how Curtis has worked to provide an honest look at the impact tragedy has on a soul, and more than anything, Halloween Ends shows how paths can diverge based on how you face those tragic events.
The timeline of events means that Matichak and Campbell must form a believable bond in a short amount of time, and they mostly get there, but the extent to which that bond holds feels shaky as the film moves into the finale. Without giving away crucial plot details, Matichak’s character has been through too much to walk away from security so quickly. Campbell has a tricky role to play, and he works hard to give it the necessary layers to make his mysterious arc feel natural. A mix of familiar faces rounds out the supporting players, and the new ones are Green’s usual cadre of actors you think you’d realistically find in a small midwestern town.
The violence is toned down from the last movie but gooses the grossness just enough not to cheat audiences out of what they’ve come to expect from this new wave of Halloween films. Save for a few well-timed jump scares that coincide with jangly sound cues, it’s not particularly scary as it works toward a finale that has been a long time coming. In many similarly-hyped films, the big brawl winds up feeling lackluster, but Curtis has ensured the end has purpose and pathos – and why would we expect anything less?
I don’t expect Halloween Ends to be the last Halloween film we’ll ever see, but the shape of the series is likely to look a little different now that the rights have reverted to the original producers. That can be a little scary, considering they are the ones that oversaw the franchise in its darkest days. I’m hoping they take a long look at how Curtis, Green, Carpenter, and the producers have teed things up for change and run with it.