HALLOWEEN ENDS l Universal Pictures, Miramax and Blumhouse

HALLOWEEN ENDS, how do I talk about thee without spoilers? I guess I should first address the masked killer in the room. Does it actually end other than the obvious ending that all movies must have? Yes. HALLOWEEN ENDS truly ends the arc of Michael Myers vs Laurie Strode. Is anything ever truly over in franchise land? No, but director David Gordon Green and co-writers Danny McBride, Paul Brad Logan, and Chris Bernier have done what they promised: they brought a true ending to this trilogy.

I have to be honest here. I am not a horror fan who is fanatical about franchises, “iconic killers”, or anything like that. I exited the  Halloween franchise after Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch. I do love that the film has been reassessed as a classic after being bombed by Michael Myers superfans who can’t stand the idea of a Halloween film without Michael Myers in it. My favorite Friday The 13th film is Jason X, because clearly, the filmmakers said, “Let’s send Jason into space, hell yeah.” and ended up making one of the most gleefully entertaining films in horror because they reached for something more.

What I enjoy is filmmakers taking risks and going outside of the audience’s expectations which is why, after the original Halloween, Season Of The Witch is probably my favorite. I exited the franchise as a viewer explicitly because the franchise then went back to the Michael Myers factory, the unkillable killing machine, and well, never seemed to look back until quite recently.

One of the things that many people get wrong about the original Halloween is that they think the movie is about Michael Myers. It’s not. The primary films, except for Season Of The Witch and most of the sequels after Halloween III, are actually about Laurie Strode. Michael Myers isn’t much of a character. He’s a cipher. A silent seemingly mindless killing machine. Of death. And killing. Then maybe some murders too.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Ends

If you disagree, I would ask you this. Jaws is one of the most popular horror films of all time. Is Jaws about the shark? No, it’s about Sheriff Brody, Matt Hooper, and the town of Amity. The Exorcist, is again a classic and one of the most popular horror films of all time. Is it about the demon Pazuzu? No, it’s about Chris and Regan McNeil and Father Damien Karras. If these films were focused on the antagonists, they would become quite tedious very quickly. In film, with some exceptions, you need characters that you can understand and empathize with, even if they aren’t good people 100% of the time. Villains and monsters might seem more exciting, but they can’t do their magic without the base of a good story and main characters who are interesting and complex beings. There are always exceptions to this, but for most films, it’s the truth.

Where the franchise went wrong is when it continued and focused on Michael Myers, not as the antagonist, but as the protagonist. Michael has never been a particularly interesting character. He’s been mythologized into the ground, but none of the sequels that I’ve watched succeeded in making him a truly fascinating character worthy of having a whole movie focused on him. I will interject here to say that I haven’t watched the Rob Zombie sequels, so I can’t say for a fact whether or not Zombie did that. However, simply giving a character an elaborate backstory doesn’t constitute success in making the character worthy of note.

It is of note that David Gordon Green’s trilogy has both the cooperation and participation of Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter. I think that says a lot about how they feel about this particular trilogy. I believe that the success of the Green Halloween trilogy comes from focusing on the story of Laurie Strode and her family, including Michael, and the town of Haddonfield.

Without giving out any large spoilers, the central theme of HALLOWEEN ENDS is how trauma affects those who go through it and how that evil perpetrated on those victims can infect those suffering from PTSD and continued violent attacks. How dealing with PTSD can lead you to make bad or rash decisions that will affect your life forever or cause you to shut yourself down from life and emotion as a form of protection. It’s about finally breaking free of the curse of abuse and violence.

It’s somewhat similar to The Black Phone thematically since it talks about the choices that victims of violence have to make under pressure and how that affects them.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends

Jamie Lee Curtis gives another fantastic and strong performance, and her understanding of the character of Laurie has only deepened with the years. She’s reached the point where she’s finally found a way to cautiously trust and open up again emotionally. Her scenes with Will Patton as Deputy Frank Hawkins are some of the most touching in the film. They are sweet and provide a romantic and emotional respite from the rest of the film. Will Patton is very good as Hawkins, who is resolute and wary but still hopeful about life.

Andi Matichak does good work as Allyson, still unmoored because of her parent’s death and who is searching for something. Rohan Campbell is quite good as Corey Cunningham, the unfortunate town pariah after a tragic accident. James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle do well above average work as The Shape/Michael Myers and inject some spooky humanity into their masked performance. I have stated before that the actor’s performance underneath the mask is very important with a high level of difficulty, so the strange and otherworldly essence that they gave to Myers under that mask is very good.

Kyle Richards does well in her warm and supportive but brief performance. Omar Dorsey is also good as Sheriff Barker, his role is brief as well, but he and Richards both make an impact with a small amount of screen time.

The plot of the film does divert from the usual Halloween franchise set up and that’s a good thing. I’ve only seen it once, but I think the film was successful in trying to balance the violence and characterization, and storytelling with bits of dark humor woven into the fabric of the film. It also breaks some of The Rules of the franchise but I believe that this is because the filmmakers were engaging in a deconstruction of the myth of Michael Myers as The Boogeyman.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies and I think it complements and enhances the film as a good soundtrack should. It stays away from iconic themes, which stays in tune with the film’s overall aesthetic.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Ends

The cinematography by Michael Simmonds, who worked as director of photography on both of the previous films, is quite good in the requisite darkness and some actual scenes in daylight. Most of the scenes at night are well lit and most of the action is easy to watch and not as low light as a lot of current films are. There are some striking shots in there that I can’t talk about because of spoilers, but they are there.

HALLOWEEN ENDS is a successful end to the David Gordon Green Halloween trilogy that puts the focus squarely where it belongs – on Laurie Strode and her surviving family. The film is thoughtful and impactful about the effects of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder on the victims and survivors of violence and how violence and evil can infect others if they aren’t careful. It also has some good violent kills for those who enjoy that and surprises in store for the viewers. It is an artistic success for its insistence on focusing on character over spectacle. HALLOWEEN ENDS is a haunting but hopeful conclusion.

See HALLOWEEN ENDS in theaters and streaming only on Peacock on October 14, 2022.

Dolores Quintana
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