Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: David Gordon Green, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride (screenplay), John Carpenter, Debra Hill (original characters)
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, James Jude Courtney
Producers: Malek Akkad, Bill Block, Jason Blum
Music: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel Davies
Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
Editor: Timothy Alverson
Running time: 111mins
What’s the story: Several years after the events of Halloween Kills, Laurie Strode (Curtis) and granddaughter Allyson (Matichak) have pieced their lives back together. But, when Allyson meets wounded soul Corey (Campbell), old ghosts are resurrected.
What’s the verdict: The original run of Halloween movies ended in 1995, with an instalment starring Donald Pleasance and Paul Rudd, back when he was Paul Stephen Rudd. Deathly dull, the only point of interest was its subtitle: The Curse of Michael Myers.
With Halloween Ends, it is clear what is the curse of Michael Myers: moving beyond the first Halloween movie in any cycle will end in numbing disappointment. John Carpenter’s original was followed by the anonymous Halloween II, then a slew of uninspired sequels (bar Part III, which wandered off on its own bizarre adventure). 1998’s agreeable 20th anniversary reboot Halloween: H20 was followed in 2002 by the execrable Halloween: Resurrection.
We’ll skip over Rob Zombie’s brace of Halloween movies; one because they are trash not worth the publicity, and two because they don’t fit my point. Jump forward to 2018. David Gordon Green’s 40th anniversary reboot, simply titled Halloween, was a canny blend of John Carpenter’s original and James Cameron’s Terminator 2. It had heart, brains, humour, scares.
And Jamie Lee Curtis, back as Laurie Strode after her return stint in the 1998 and 2002 movies. This Halloween also had Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter and Andi Matichak as her granddaughter. All of which gave the horror smackdown a generational feminist spin that matched the mood of the time. Halloween was back.
We shouldn’t have been surprised when Halloween Kills arrived and was a mangy dog. But with the key talent back, it was hard not to feel cheated by this nihilistic bludgeon-a-thon that owed more to Rob Zombie than John Carpenter. The film was humourless, although its oft-spoken tagline, “Evil dies tonight,” did elicit unintentional giggles.
The current cycle concludes with Halloween Ends. It’s better than Halloween Kills. Although that is like saying Jason Vorhees’ machete in your bonce is better than Freddy’s knifed glove up your jacksey. Make no mistake, this Halloween is DOA. David Gordon Green and his three co-writers have fashioned a slowburn story that never matches the driving tempo of Carpenter’s legendary theme. Instead using that music cue to inject life into a film that terrorises the audience with bone-aching boredom.
We’re now several years after the bloody night of Halloween Kills. Michael Myers has vanished, and Laurie and Allyson have moved on emotionally, if not geographically. They still dwell in Haddonsfield, Illinois, murder capital of America, presumably for budgetary reasons. Tolerated by the local community, some of whom still bear the scars of Myers’ rampages, both women have an antenna for bullied strays.
Laurie spots one in Corey (Hugh Dancy-alike Campbell), blamed for a terrible accident we see in a polished pre-credit sequence. Local youths use him for a punching bag. Feeling a kinship, Allyson takes a shine to the sad-eyed emo and romance blossoms. But, are the inhabitants of Haddonsfield truly rid of their past monsters?
When discussing Halloween Kills, David Gordon Green was adamant he delivered the film he wanted to make. Undoubtedly he’ll say the same about Halloween Ends. But, did he really want to make something this listless and incoherent? Subplots and themes jostle for attention, but most are left half-baked. Gordon and co. seem to be saying that untreated trauma begets violence, but do not have a single consistent character with which to land the theme. Allyson falls for Corey comically quickly and shifts personality from scene-to-scene, while Curtis’ Laurie is pulled in every direction as the film attempts to conclude her character arc.
Bizarrely, both women are supporting players in the Corey plot. Don’t worry that Corey has not featured earlier in the trilogy, the filmmakers are clearly not bothered. Campbell tries hard with the character, but is thwarted by an uninteresting character. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge and John Carpenter’s Christine are as much influences here as any Halloween movie. Not that this adds to much; the script is as messy as a Michael Myers murder scene, with as many loose ends.
Michael Myers (again played by James Jude Courtney) is ignominiously reduced to bit-player status in his own franchise. But is that a disappointment in a misfire such as this? Green ruined the character in Halloween Kills so who wants to see much more of that vandalism? The pre-credits scene works as an effective short film, with a smackdown punchline, but that’s all you’re getting fun frights wise. Elsewhere, this is sporadically violent, but free of scares.
Jamie Lee Curtis is granted more screentime than in Halloween Kills, but can do nothing with the brittle character and plot line. There might be a three-hour cut of the movie that makes all this makes sense, but who wants to endure that?
The climax is an ending of sorts. But, it is likely to leave audiences shrugging and realising that this rebooted franchise, the 2018 film aside, has been all trick, no treat.