Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Halloween ends. Proceed at your own risk.
Halloween ends is perhaps one of the strangest films in one of the longest-running horror series that has never been lacking. Strange in this case does not always mean equally good or all-round coherent. In fact, much of it feels like an extended cinematic prank, taking us through a central narrative that isn’t really about it Halloween or even the notorious Michael Myers. While this may be disappointing to many who expected the legendary killer to wreak havoc once again, there’s still much to appreciate in the eccentric approach David Gordon Green recorded this final chapter of the latest trilogy. It’ll certainly be divisive, even with an explosive ending doing it many favors, but there’s something that proves wonderfully insane about how it’s all set up.
Most central to this mesmerizing film is keeping Michael out of the picture for most of the runtime. He remains a constant threatening presence, as he has before, but it can’t be overstated how much this isn’t really about him. The main characters are still Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andy Mathak), although they are not the ones we start with. Instead, it mostly focuses on a new character that didn’t seem all that significant in the trailers. We meet Corey first (Rohan Campbell) in an impactful opening sequence that ends in a shocking and brutal tragedy for which he is blamed. Years later, now that Michael is gone, he has become an outcast in the community. Aside from his surely…unique parents, Laurie is the only person who is kind to Corey. She even tries to set him up with Allyson, which will have repercussions neither of them could have foreseen. The film takes its time with this and there are several moments where you might be wondering when Michael Myers will actually appear in his own film.
Without giving too many clues as to where it all ends, even when the killer shows up, nothing goes as expected. It plays out pretty much as we saw in the trailers when Corey discovers Michael living underground. However, he does not immediately take up the knife and goes back to murder. Instead, Michael suddenly seems to form some sort of psychic connection with Corey that begins to take over his life. Before that, he had previously seemed like a flawed but potentially good kid who made a mistake he now had to live with. After this encounter, the story and he begin to embark on a wild path. This all takes a bit of getting used to as, despite revealing the masked killer, the film doesn’t seem too keen on bringing it fully to the public until much later. For better or worse, this isn’t the misfire experience it was halloween kills, where Michael was let loose and just raged extensively for the entire run. While that had plenty of kills that even got a bit silly, this final entry in the trilogy is a whole different beast.
There’s an anarchic sensibility to the experience as everything that preceded it doesn’t really matter. Sure, there are confirmations of significant events, such as how Strode’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) was killed at the end of the last film. That being said, the story focuses a lot more on how Corey starts to get corrupted and creepy. Michael is certainly connected, but he’s not the most pressing threat in these moments. Nothing comes easy, and even if it’s not entirely successful, the experience of seeing it is immensely compelling. There’s a mean streak to it, as both in terms of its violence and narrative flow, it seems to relish breaking itself and the characters apart. Michael seems to be in a kind of dormancy, at least initially, and doesn’t have the same frighteningly insatiable thirst for violence as before.
However, he’s starting to “wake up” in his own sweet time. What mostly makes it work is how this more patient and unpredictable approach ultimately pays off. Without the finale, this film would be nothing but a silly errand that we were toyed with for almost two hours. The way it is then pulled together ensures that any stitches in random directions will eventually find their destination. Michael regains his sense of threat in a way that’s more impactful because the film didn’t overuse him early on. Its final reintroduction is as gradual as it is oddly gregarious and to the beat of its own drum, a strange artifact that stands out in a crowded field of largely lackluster entries for holding together despite tearing itself apart time and time again.
Of course, just because an experience is unexpected doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. An act of subversion is not always well executed and Halloween ends falls somewhere in the middle. What could have been a disastrous decision to almost entirely cut Myers from the story, most recently done in the third film’s failed attempt to turn the series into an anthology, somehow manages to come together. It’s a work that intentionally catches audiences off guard from the start, withholding much of what we expected for this film until the very last part of the final act. Much of this takes place more as a thriller in the town of Haddonfield, where the haunting threads of trauma with a capital T remain woven throughout. The torrent of gore and violence then arrives in a manner intended to be darkly comedic for horror audiences. This shows a clear affection for the material, which also serves as a controversial ribbing of the rules on how that’s supposed to go. It’s by no means the best of the Halloween movies. However, it’s certainly the one that has the least of its slasher theme, although it somehow manages to work oddly in terrifying fits and sinister starts.
Halloween ends is in theaters and streaming on Peacock.
https://collider.com/halloween-ends-isnt-about-michael-myers/ Halloween Ends Isn’t Really About Michael Myers and That’s Okay