David Gordon Green has concluded his “Halloween” trilogy with a bang, and “Halloween Ends” is one of the best horror movies of the year. Let’s start this review with that. I don’t consider myself a “Halloween” connoisseur since I entered the franchise pretty late in the game. Up until the week of the release of “Halloween Ends”, I had watched John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, Green’s “Halloween” and “Halloween Kills”. However, before watching the conclusion of Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) saga, I decided to complete the set. And I have to say that the ride was largely enjoyable, with a few rough patches in the form of “Halloween H20” and “Halloween: Resurrection.” I don’t know if it was the high after watching Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” or the fact that this 12-movie journey had completely prepared me for any swing that Gordon made, but I absolutely loved “Halloween Ends.”
Directed and co-written by Green, along with co-writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride, “Halloween Ends” takes place four years after the events of “Halloween Kills.” Michael Myers/The Shape (James Jude Courtney) has vanished again after killing several residents of Haddonfield, with one of them being Laurie’s daughter, Karen (Judy Greer). Laurie now lives with her granddaughter, Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), and is writing a memoir about how Haddonfield continues to descend into violence and hatred even though there’s no masked murderer going around killing people. Additionally, there’s Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), who accidentally killed a kid he was babysitting all the way back in 2019 when the kid tried to prank him. So, he spends all his time at his father’s car repair yard, avoiding any kind of social interaction. But when he sustains an injury from an altercation with a group of bullies, his path collides with that of Allyson and Laurie’s.
Green’s “Halloween” and “Halloween Kills” essentially take place over the course of around 24 hours. Therefore, giving a time jump to “Halloween Ends” offers a moment of retrospection and introspection. And that’s exactly what we see Laurie doing. She is wondering if Michael Myers is the only thing that’s evil about Haddonfield or if he is a symptom of the larger problems that have been plaguing the quaint little town for ages. Going by the violent turn the residents take, it does seem like Michael’s rage and bloodlust are a distillation of the core characteristics of Haddonfield. Since it’s easier to blame one individual for the majority’s issues, that baton has been passed from Myers to Laurie to Corey, and who knows how many others who preceded their existence or are on the sidelines. But the difference between the collective and someone like Michael Myers is that the general populace is impressionable while Myers is a monolith. The former needs a spark of inspiration, while the latter deserves only extinction.
Of course, the act of “sparking inspiration” in the diverse and depressed people of Haddonfield seems overwhelming and unrelatable. So, Green and his writers narrow it down to just Laurie urging Allyson to live a better and more positive life. Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in this process is that Laurie’s boomer blinders prevent her from not only seeing Allyson’s unresolved issues, but those that lie within Corey as well. By the time the blinders come off, Allyson and Corey’s toxic romance is in full bloom. And the surprising impact of this relationship is that it makes “Halloween” vulnerable and scary again. As much as I like most of the films in the franchise, except for the first one, every single entry gets pulpier and hence very enjoyable. But they didn’t exactly ignite any fear. In “Halloween Ends”, since I care about Allyson and I’m rooting for Corey, the situation feels volatile because it can go in so many different directions, with none of them being “happy” in the traditional sense.
This vulnerability and fear very organically fuel one of the most recognizable faces (masks?) in pop-culture history, i.e., Michael Myers/The Mask. At the cost of sounding repetitive, apart from Carpenter’s “Halloween” and Rick Rosenthal’s “Halloween II”, Myers doesn’t consistently inject terror into your veins throughout the franchise. Yes, whenever he shows up, you know that the scene is going to get bloody. But that feeling is synonymous with excitement and not fear. Green’s treatment of Myers in the first two movies is similar. He comes off as merely a vessel for creative kills (and they are creative as hell). But for “Halloween Ends”, Green takes a little bit of “The Revenge of Michael Myers”, a little bit of “IT”, and even a bit of “Christine”, and concocts the most sickening, slightly supernatural, parasitic, and diabolical version of Michael Myers yet, in my opinion. Every scene with him and the people he influences genuinely made me gasp, hold my head in shock, applaud, and almost break into tears.
Green displays a level of confidence in his direction that he hasn’t displayed before but has certainly been building up to. I’ll go on a limb and say that, on some level, he was aware of the fact that swinging for the fences too early in the game prevents you from completing your trilogy. That’s pretty much what happened with Rob Zombie (who, FYI, should get to complete his trilogy). So, Green evidently played it safe, raked in the big bucks, and then went buck wild with his take on this popular franchise. The balance of complex themes and jaw-dropping action scenes is immaculate. “Halloween Ends” has excellent pacing. Timothy Alverson’s editing is sharp and methodical. The special effects and the stunt work are fantastic. John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies’s punk rock-esque score is so good that it’s still playing in my head as I write this review. Michael Simmonds’s cinematography is full of amazing shot compositions and dynamic camerawork. But the poor lighting choices and bland color grading hinder the viewing experience a little bit.
When it comes to acting, Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the best actors out there, and she has been so for a long, long time. And with each new appearance, it seems like she has something new to offer. Her final take on Laurie is a mixture of deceptive, caring, and funny, while still having the ability to pack a punch. Even though she as well as the “Halloween” movies have been turned into memes, the moment she locks eyes with Rohan Campbell, a chill does run down the spine. Curtis manages to show how this individual is piercing through Laurie’s artifice of confidence and is reminding of that familiar feeling of horror and exhilaration. Rohan is the wild card of “Halloween Ends”. His presence in the trailers has been negligible. But – without giving anything away – he is the star of the movie, and he earns that position with a performance that’ll stay in my mind. His scenes with Joanne Baron and Rick Moose are nothing short of painful and, hence, effective.
Despite being sandwiched between Curtis and Campbell, Andi Matichak manages to knock it out of the park as the soul of the film. She makes you want to reach out to Allyson through the screen to tell her that she should get out of Haddonfield by herself since neither Laurie nor Corey are good for her. Curtis’s brief scenes with Joanne Baron are intense as they manage to establish the theme of overbearing mothers and how various definitions of “being caring” can negatively impact a child. Rob Zombie did tackle this topic in his movies, but it was more surreal and visceral. Green, Curtis, Baron, Matichak, and Campbell make it feel like something that we’ve seen in our real lives. James Jude Courtney as The Shape, or Michael Myers, is menacing. He is still very much a physical presence for his age, and you wouldn’t want someone like him lumbering at you or staring at you from a distance. The entire supporting cast is efficient. Not a single bad apple to be found here.
In conclusion, and at the cost of sounding repetitive, “Halloween Ends” is one of the best movies of the year and one of the best horror movies of the year. I know that the verdict is split down the middle. Maybe it’s more negative than positive. I don’t really care about any of that, though. I sat down to watch the movie expecting to be enthralled, horrified, and riveted–like I do for every piece of entertainment–and David Gordon Green kept me engaged all the way to the credits and left me wanting for more. What more can I ask for? Maybe better lighting? But apart from that, I am a happy customer here. I am a fan of everything that Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, and the rest of Green’s team have done here. I think this is a very fitting end to Green’s trilogy. And if Malek Akkad, Jason Blum and Bill Block want to take this franchise forward – not necessarily with these characters – I can say that I am here for it.
See More: ‘Halloween Ends’ Ending, Explained: Did Laurie Strode Finally Defeat Michael Myers?