The Austin Chronicle

Halloween Ends

Rated R, 111 min. Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, James Jude Courtney, Rohan Campbell.

REVIEWED By Trace Sauveur, Fri., Oct. 21, 2022

Each of the Blumhouse-era Halloween films has reflected its respective original counterpart in some way. 2018’s Halloween mimicked the clean scope compositions and general economic plotting of John Carpenter’s classic. Last year’s Halloween Kills relegated Laurie Strode (Curtis) to a hospital bed and kept her out of much of the action, just like the original Halloween II did. And now the capper of this new trilogy from the David Gordon Green and Danny McBride creative team, Halloween Ends, lifts from Halloween III: Season of the Witch in a very particular way: Michael Myers is not in this movie.

OK, that’s not exactly true. Michael Myers is technically here, but fans may want to temper their expectations of how much of him they’re going to get. Really, this is not totally a movie about Michael, at least not the man himself. For the grand finale, the creative team seems to have split the difference between their first film’s reverence of the original and their second film’s themes about the infectious spread of evil. It returns to some of the more established dispositions of the franchise, rather than the chaotic-mob movie Kills veered into, but follows through on the ideas established there about a town driven mad by the brutal death and destruction of their small-town routine. It’s the smallest of improvements over that film, but that bar was practically buried under the ground.

Indeed, the things Halloween Ends gets right are the things you would expect to get out of this franchise in the first place. It’s shot cleanly, has a great score (credited to John/Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies), and has a couple of fairly satisfying, grisly kills. It also, thankfully, positions the Strode family back at the center of the action. Instead of getting lost to a horde of anonymous townspeople, Laurie and granddaughter Allyson (Matichak) are more properly utilized to reckon with a town that has been left afraid and paranoid for years because of the man to whom the Strode family seems inextricably tied.

It’s a sensible direction to go in some ways, but the script – written by four people, mind you – still finds a way to take sensible ideas and turn them into something inane and eye roll-inducing. Picking up four years later, a major component of this story is new character Corey Cunningham (Campbell), a pariah within Haddonfield after getting off seemingly scot-free from manslaughter. Seemingly meant to operate as an all-around manifestation and result of the town’s collective psychosis, he’s intimately tied into the film’s concerns about everlasting evil. He’s an intriguing addition and not a totally worthless one conceptually, but the way the story utilizes him to bluntly hammer home its thematics and works him in as a central figure to the central conflict between Michael and Laurie is brazenly misguided and often just ridiculously dumb.

Aside from that, at 111 minutes this thing really takes its time getting the ball rolling, and even once you get to the good stuff, you’re left with some pretty diminished returns. So much of this is pitifully dull, and there’s not a single effective sequence of any sort of sustained tension. The craft is mostly there on a superficial level, but it’s missing the nervy, atmospheric, foreboding magic that Halloween is able to conjure when at its best. It’s bewildering how actively resistant this seems to the idea of just being a goodass slasher movie. And I reiterate: Michael is barely in it!

What we’re left with is a plodding, pompous horror, only memorable for the ways that it completely drops the ball in sidelining its headliner to take a poor shot at turning this into a series about something oh-so-ever important. It’s just as silly as any of the original sequels and is maybe even more egregious given the inherent benefit of hindsight and the fact that this outing seems to think it’s outsmarting the formula. If this really is the last we see of Michael Myers, it won’t be because Green, McBride, and co. have crafted the definitive franchise statement. Or, in fact, perhaps they have – concrete, brain-dead proof that it may be time for Halloween to end for good.

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