There’s no easy way to say this, but Halloween Ends is not what you’re expecting at all, for better or worse. Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, this isn’t some kind of grand finale to Michael Myers and Laurie Strode’s rivalry that kicked off with John Carpenter’s original 1978 film. Instead, Halloween Ends can be best described as a more metaphorical, self-reflective type of closure that aims to wrap up this current trilogy’s themes of trauma and survivor’s guilt over the town of Haddonfield itself rather than just being about Michael vs. Laurie. This is by no means a bad thing, and it even initially sounds better than a generic, “epic” showdown. However, in aiming for something much more obscure and thematically bold, David Gordon Green has crafted what is easily the most divisive sequel this franchise has seen in years.
How can this third film be possibly any more divisive than Halloween Kills? Well, that movie was and still is somewhat misunderstood, to begin with. But to dive into the many drastic narrative swings made in Halloween Ends dictates major spoilers, which will of course be avoided here. The best way it can be said without giving too much away, for now, is that going from Kills, which arguably has some of the goriest and most action-packed Michael Myers sequences ever, to Ends, which features the least screen time of Myers from any sequel in the entire franchise, is going to leave a lot of people and die-hard fans with tonal whiplash. Going further, you can already feel the cries of upset fans halfway through Halloween Ends. “Why are they ending it like this?!” Yet, against blind judgment, David Gordon Green clearly has his reasons.
We find ourselves about 4 years after the events of Halloween night 2018 – when both previous films took place. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has now taken a new positive perspective on life, embracing Halloween traditions and appreciating every day to the fullest with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) while also writing her new memoir on surviving Michael Myers. The boogeyman has disappeared, yet Haddonfield still lives in his shadow. Myers is all anyone can talk about every Halloween, and even though he himself hasn’t killed in years, people are still dying. From freak accidents to suicides, the townsfolk carry themselves in the only way they’ve known since 1978, out of fear. Haddonfield is rotting at its core, but a new opportunity presents itself when Allyson meets Corey Cunningham, played by The Hardy Boys star Rohan Campbell.
Corey is a name you’re going to be hearing a lot when it comes to Halloween discourse, he’s shockingly the most pivotal character of Halloween Ends. In a weird way, the movie is shared more between him and Laurie Strode – Michael Myers being this looming, almighty force felt throughout – than it does between Laurie and her own granddaughter. Corey, who has never seen Myers, is a citizen who’s been put on a dark path by Haddonfield acting out of fear. His introduction in the film’s opening lays some truly interesting thematic groundwork. A huge part of Halloween Ends is this idea of evil and rebirth. Even though Myers may be gone, the thought of him still being out there is powerful enough to last forever and manifest itself in different ways. There will always be this type of pain and suffering, it just takes a different shape each time.
This concept feels like something that John Carpenter, who first labeled Myers as “The Shape,” would be proud of. Also, for a franchise that’s now lasted 44 years, the fact that no other sequel has tried to execute some of the ideas in Halloween Ends makes it that much easier to accept. You’ll tell yourself, “You know what? These movies were bound to get here eventually.” David Gordon Green’s bold choices obviously have their inspirational roots, and they even bring new scenarios to the table that actually make sense for the story! If Halloween Ends doesn’t win you over with some of its daring choices, you’ll still be able to understand why they were made and get a grasp of this vision. The biggest problem is that almost every new moment of intrigue is then followed by one that either feels contradictory or painfully off.
Halloween Ends is frequently at odds with itself, a clear result of studio tampering. It probably took a lot for David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride to convince many of their fellow creatives why this sequel could work, but if you’re going to commit to something drastic and possibly divisive, then commit all the way. There’s a tug of war felt throughout Halloween Ends, with studio execs pulling back from some of the film’s crazier ideas while the filmmakers try their best to persevere. What ends up in the final cut is this strange middle ground, where certain key elements are left vague and implied in an unsatisfying way. Additionally, scenes and bits that are meant to be impactful come off as way too goofy for their own good because of this mishmash. Halloween Ends often leaves viewers scratching their heads instead of actually scaring them.
Save for a few gnarly kills, one in particular actually being gross and creative enough to be an all-timer, a lot of the material with Michael Myers himself feels like an afterthought, especially when it comes to the final confrontation with Laurie Strode. The film tries to squeeze in last-minute nostalgia and callbacks to their first fight from 1978, and it fails to bring out any reaction when you’re still trying to wrap your head around how weird everything is. As this sort of all-encompassing franchise closer that’s been promised, Halloween Ends is underwhelming. When looking back at this trilogy, one character who deserved more is Andi Matichak’s Allyson, who unfortunately loses some agency here at the cost of serving Corey as a love interest. In fairness, these films are more about Haddonfield as a whole, but is this all they could really do with Laurie’s own granddaughter?
Halloween Ends is destined for online hysteria, spreading into review bombing and discourse where people who haven’t even seen the movie already make up their minds. As we’ve come to learn by now, fandom shouldn’t dictate storytelling since the “fans” usually either just want the same stuff regurgitated or plainly don’t actually know what they want. At the same time, moviegoers not liking subversion or different choices doesn’t always mean that it’s because they weren’t smart enough to get it. Halloween Ends plays out somewhere between this moral dilemma. It’s going to get a lot of unjustified hate just because it dared to break the precious mold and get dunked on for often falling flat on its face. You get an odd mix of both worlds here, with the only agreement being that John Carpenter produced the best score out of the trilogy (seriously, it’s pretty fucking great).
Michael Myers will be back one day that’s for sure, but for now, we can expect years of people debating whether Halloween Ends is one of the most misunderstood of the franchise next to Rob Zombie’s Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (which Ends also borrows its title font from), or just simply one of the worst. The truth? It’s a fascinating mess somewhere in between. Have to give plenty of respect to David Gordon Green for swinging for the fences.