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I wrote in my review of the 2018 reboot of “Halloween” that the team behind the film didn’t “really understand what made the first film a masterpiece.” Not to be that guy, but if the cluttered “Halloween Kills” didn’t prove me right then the baffling “Halloween Ends” certainly does. What’s so bizarre about this truly strange sequel is that it's easy to admire its wide swings at doing something different with a trilogy closer, but Green and his team can’t figure out how to wed their undeniable ambition to something that’s coherent. Much like the criticism of the notoriously divisive “Halloween 3: Season of the Witch”—and some of the structure is intentionally a nod to that diversion from the Michael Myers formula—“Halloween Ends” is barely a “Halloween” movie. Rather than directly end what was set up in the previous film, it introduces a new antagonist, and spends way too much time on a half-baked young love story, but it has to come back to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), even if the final showdown has been drained of any sense of urgency by the convoluted route these films took to get there. It also doesn’t help that we all know that the title of this film is a lie. There will be another “Halloween” movie somewhere in the future, which will make this even more of an odd tangent in the history of a horror legend. Although “Halloween Pauses” probably doesn’t sound as exciting.
Rather than pick up after the chaos of the last film that left Judy Greer’s Karen Nelson dead—a stupid choice that still annoys me—“Halloween Ends” opens in 2019 with a new character named Corey Cunningham (the downright bad Rohan Campbell, poorly directed to a dull performance). He’s babysitting for a kid in Haddonfield who’s a little scared by all the murder around town. When the kid decides to play a prank on Corey, it results in an accident that leaves the little scamp dead, turning Corey into a pariah. Three years later, Laurie is working on her memoir—allowing for way too much voiceover about the nature of evil and all that—and living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
After being bullied by a series of marching band tough guys—which might be a movie first—Corey starts to crack, discovering Michael Myers in a sewer, where the two basically become BFFs, unleashing violence all over Haddonfield. The admittedly ambitious idea seems to be that evil is not just in notorious monsters like Michael Myers but could be unleashed in an average babysitter whose life is ruined by an accident. Corey ends up basically infected by the Myers’ evil, but Allyson can’t see his true depravity, falling more in love with the brooding maniac because, well, it’s a movie. To say the love story between Corey and Allyson is underwritten and unbelievable would be an understatement. It’s just poorly executed in every way.
A shocking amount of “Halloween Ends” is poorly executed with clunkier editing, framing, and writing than the other two films, as if the team were hired to make this one as a contractual requirement and were trying to get through it as quickly as possible. What’s more likely true is that Green and his team had a truly ambitious film idea about the nature of evil and how violent loners can be created by fearful societies ... but they also had to make a “Halloween” movie. It’s the two concepts pushing and pulling against each other that tear this movie apart. What starts promising gets dumb, and Green can’t even manage the art of a quality kill, dispatching some victims here with remarkably forgettable monotony—only a DJ gets a death worth remembering. And we know it's all leading to Laurie vs. Michael, something that had such promise in 2018 but doesn’t have any power left.
If this is truly the end, it’s a whimper, not a bang.
In theaters and on Peacock today.
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson
Will Patton as Frank Hawkins
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace
James Jude Courtney as The Shape
Rohan Campbell as Corey Cunningham
Omar J. Dorsey as Sheriff Barker