We are Fourteen Films into this Franchise, and you would think that the screenwriter and director David Gordon Green would do his best to get it right, given that this purports to be the finale. I’m afraid he doesn’t, and in fact is so off the mark that it is irritating. “Halloween Ends” probably won’t be the end of these films, but it should be. The desire to keep using the tropes that John Carpenter practically invented is not going to disappear, but it is clear that knowing the language of these films is not the same as being able to speak it.
I had skipped the last film, “Halloween Kills” until this week, when I watched it for the Lookback Podcast I was planning. Had I seen it before, I probably would have skipped this movie and the lookback as well, because it is not good. There would be no rescue with the current film, it is much like it’s predecessor, an attempt to approach the concept of the film from a different perspective, and failing miserably in the process. At least the first in this trilogy kept the focus on Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. “Ends” attempts to turn this into an origin story for an alt Boogeyman, but does so without any grace or sense of feeling for the very subject it wants to be exploring, “evil”.
There is a smashingly effective prologue that does get us emotionally invested. The character of Corey Cunningham starts off as a tragic but sympathetic figure, who could have been integrated into the story in some interesting ways but instead is turned into a PTSD knockoff of a central figure in the film series. The phrase “evil eye” is taken a little too literally by writers Green, Logan, Bernier and McBride and the movie switches from the nature of evil to a contagion film like “It Follows” or “Smile“. Both of those films never quite explain why the horror is passed on, but they still are more convincing than what happens in this story. Let’s just say, four years of hibernation in a sewer, dining on rats, is not a convincing way to turn someone into a Mesmer.
I was initially taken by Cory and his budding relationship with Allyson, Laurie’s grand-daughter, but both characters start acting out of the framework that has been created for them. It is as if another story is intruding on the promising character development and taking the plot in a direction that will lead to mayhem but be completely unsatisfying. Jamie Lee is forced to bounce back and forth between the character she was in the 2018 film, and the one she was in the original. Sometimes she is in denial and sometimes she is a realist. How she becomes a crystal ball, able to tell what is happening when no one else seems to know is not very clear. I like Will Patton as an actor, and I like his character, but he was supposed to be dead in the 2018 film and he lingers around the periphery of this story just to give us some hope for Laurie, he is wasted in this film.
There is no logic to the way secondary characters react to Laurie either. Some are sympathetic and still view her as a hero, while others seem to blame her for what happened for no reason at all. This feels like a thread from “Kills” but one that is not very strong and not essential to the plot. Like Patton’s Frank, it is also unclear how some of these people are alive after the first two movies. Two characters are picked at random for “Michael 2.0” to kill, and they are stalked in an amazing house that feels like it should be in the Hollywood Hills rather than in rural Haddonfield. The connection to Allyson seems important early on, but now it feels like a deliberate premediated act rather than a random Michael Myers slaughter. The inconsistencies in the story and characters just get infuriating after a while.
There is a lot of exposition provided by Laurie, supposedly writing her book out loud, and it sounds like it is trying to make a profound point but it is mostly gibberish, which demeans the character and antagonizes the audience even more. The best that can be said for this film is that there are some murders that are kind of interesting, but not memorable enough to make the story worth telling, much less having anything to say about evil.