Horror News Network Review: ‘Halloween Ends’

by Sean McLaughlin

Well…..we waited four years for the latest Halloween saga to conclude (both in real and cinematic time).  The latest take on this beloved horror franchise began with much anticipation in 2018, followed by even more division among the hardcore fanbase a few years later.  So how would Halloween Ends……end?  Let’s get started.

First off, I will admit that the trailers released by Blumhouse and Universal Pictures leading up to this picture’s release were interesting to say the least.  They appeared to show what was essentially the entire storyline play out in all of its simplicity.  But it was a swerve, bro (for you pro wrestling fans)……the trailers were meant to throw the audience a major curveball once they actually see the film.  Perhaps that was for the best, however, as to not ruin the surprise that was to come.  To ruin this film one just needs to view it for themselves.

While I don’t normally lay out a film’s entire sequence chronologically in my reviews, it’s best to start with a positive up front.  The opening scene, like the rest of the film, does its best to ready the audience for the suspense that lies ahead, however painful it seems to witness.  The action is slow, and the payoff is unlike any other we’ve witnessed from producer/writers Danny McBride and David Gordon Green to date.  The continual reinvention/reincarnation of the Halloween pumpkin during the credits is pretty cool as well, at least visually.  Then, however, the story begins.

To say the action, and story itself, is slow to develop would be an understatement.  In fact, at times I was questioning whether the Halloween franchise had somehow morphed into rom-com territory without anyone realizing it.  What was essentially a new and different take on their own Halloween timeline had to be set up, and the characters in this film, old and especially new, need to be shown as happy and vulnerable before they can be portrayed as dark and easily-manipulated.  But if you were holding your breath until the first real kill, you’d be dead immediately.

At this point I’ll head into spoiler territory, so turn back if you haven’t seen Halloween Ends yet.

I realize movie fans, and especially horror fans, can be fickle at times.  Remakes, re-quels……all are generally lambasted by critics and audiences alike.  We want originality and good screenwriting, and in the horror genre the body count needs to be high while the artistic expression and clever satire, in recent years especially, needs to be on point.  McBride and Green attempt, at the very least, to take this franchise in a different direction.  The problem is that the resulting film is mostly sloppy and uneven, with character development ranging from none to overkill and ill-advised throwbacks to the original, bookended by a decent open and mixed-result ending.  To be clear, I have only viewed the theatrical version and not the Peacock entry, which is rumored to be slightly different.  Though I’m not sure enough could be changed to make this a better-than-decent movie.

The intention to show how good people can be forced into evil by the cruelty and ignorance of society is a noble attempt at the “love thy neighbor” narrative, but doesn’t play out well on screen.  It’s unclear how Michael Myers, missing for four years but apparently living alone in a drain pipe (minus the red balloon), seemingly uploads his killer consciousness into a feeble and willing vessel.  Perhaps this was an awkward attempt at a Locke & Key crossover, with Michael using the “Identity Key” to re-engage with Laurie Strode.  Either way, the resulting action sees Corey (Rohan Campbell), the apparent love-child of Clifton Collins Jr. and Dr. McDreamy, face his own demons by giving up control to those of Michael.  Interesting touch……except that most scenes feel more like a silly buddy cop tag team than a homicidal pact.  In fact, it felt more Dumb and Dumber at times than Stu Macher and Billy Loomis.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Andi Matichak, reprising their roles of Laurie and Allyson, do a commendable job for once again doing the best with the material they are given.  The secondary characters, particularly the characters making their first appearance, just aren’t built up enough to elicit any type of real emotion from the audience when their fates are either sealed or confirmed.  All except for Corey, that is.  Campbell is asked to show a wide range of feelings from happiness to despair to anger to gullibility.  It’s a tall task and, while admirable, ultimately it’s one that bares little impact on the overall mediocrity of Halloween Ends.

In the end, Halloween Ends is literally a tale of two movies.  The rising action leads up to the final 15 minutes, which in no real way connect to the 75 minutes that preceded it.  I will give credit that the climactic final battle between Michael and Laurie was surprisingly good, though we’ve seen the final outcome multiple times by this point.   However, this inevitable clash just felt out of place compared to the tone (and action) that we just witnessed in the lead-up.  Some of the kills were original, but most were uninspired and a good chunk were actually more implied than explicity (the blow torch comes to mind.)  The whole possessed-body storyline was irrelevant, in the grand scheme of things, other than to drag out this film to a respectable length of time and its predictable conclusion.  What we didn’t see coming, if anything, was the Spiderman 2-inspired crowd-surfing of Michael’s body by the townfolk of Haddonfield…..I guess evil didn’t die that one night, but it did on this night?

So all that was needed for Halloween Ends to end was……an industrial-sized metal shredder.  Who knew?

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