David Gordon Green Plays Around with the Mythology Again in ‘Halloween Ends’
Looking to wrap up his ‘Halloween’ trilogy, David Gordon Green can’t quite stick the landing, even as he attempts to breathe new life into the franchise.
You may recall that Green sought to up the mayhem levels in his last outing, 2021’s ‘Halloween Kills’. That film saw mob violence overtake the town of Haddonfield Illinois and largely sidelined Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie, hospitalized after her latest brutal encounter with Michael Myers (played by both James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle).
While it was a big swing in terms of the mythology, it didn’t quite work, coming across as unfocused and chaotic, and robbing the movie of its personal vengeance connection. It tried to balance that out by (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie) killing off Laurie’s daughter Karen, played by Judy Greer.
‘Ends’ moves the story on four years, as Haddonfield has enjoyed a time of relative calm after the disappearance of Michael Myers. Though the vibrating hum of tension is always present as an undercurrent, Laurie has done her best to move on with life.
She’s living without a complicated security system, writing about her experiences and the nature of evil and trying to guide granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who is still suffering the psychological scars of her parents’ loss and trying to move on by working as a nurse at the local hospital.
But even as everyone looks to cope and heal, the town is set back on edge when Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) accidentally kills the boy he’s babysitting. Though it’s a tragic mistake, the repercussions are devastating, turning Corey into an unwitting bogeyman and the target of bullies.
And when he makes an unexpected connection with Allyson, their traumatic histories drawing them together, things become even more complicated, forcing Laurie to act.
Of course, by this point, you’re probably wondering how Michael Myers factors into all this – but we’ll not reveal that for the sake of keeping the movie’s secrets.
Suffice to say, this once again represents Green, plus co-writers Danny McBride, Chris Bernier and Paul Brad Logan, still trying new ideas within the existing ‘Halloween’ mythology. But as with ‘Kills’, the results are severely mixed.
Curtis is thankfully handed more to do as Laurie this time, and of course she’s still fantastic as the haunted heroine we’ve come to know and worry about. Switching up her attitude once more works for the character, as she tries to put the past behind her and concentrate instead on a future for her and her family.
But of course, she can never quite put Michael Myers out of her mind, given all the pain and suffering she’s endured at his hands (and knives).
The emphasis, though, is less on her than it is on Matichak and Campbell. And while they try to make the unexpected partnership work, there’s often the creeping feeling that you’re watching people act a certain way because the movie demands they do, not out of logic. Certain actions you can understand, but as the narrative goes to more extreme ends, it becomes less easy to comprehend.
Campbell’s Corey is at least an interesting addition to the story, a young man pushed to extraordinary behavior by guilt, grief and the local community’s reaction to him. He’s got a haranguing mother and an indulgent quiet-spoken father, so there are added layers to how he’s gotten to this point and what happens when he decides he’s been pushed too far.
As for others in Haddonfield, there are brief, human moments for Kyle Richards’ Lindsey and particularly Will Patton’s Hawkins, who fosters his tentative feelings for Laurie. But while the story is fortunately trying to juggle far fewer balls this time, there’s still the feeling of not quite hitting all its targets.
On a subtextual level, there are attempts here to reflect on the effects of trauma and the continuing injuries that no one can see or comprehend. And in slightly clunky voice-over as she continues writing, Laurie muses on the nature of evil.
For those after a slasher movie – because, after all, isn’t that what we really want from a ‘Halloween’ installment? – there could be some disappointment, at least until the slaying starts. But while it was Laurie in the background in ‘Kills’, here it’s her nemesis, which can be disappointing (again, we won’t go into details).
Musically, ‘Ends’ is of course up to the task, with franchise founder John Carpenter once more providing the score, all electronic terror and creeping notes.
As shot by Michael Simmonds, who was cinematographer for both ‘Halloween’ and ‘Halloween Kills’, Haddonfield here is at least authentic looking (albeit with suburban Illinois played by Georgia and Utah) and there are some fantastic visual moments.
Green has also not lost his talent for building tension. There’s less of it here than in the previous two movies, but he and his team are adroit at designing sequences that quicken the pulse. Yes, there are the usual fake-outs and jump scares, but Green doesn’t lean on them.
Without going into specifics, ‘Ends’ truly does aim to wrap a bow on at least Green’s take on the franchise but pushed to slightly ridiculous levels. The result is a movie that succeeds more than ‘Kills’ but never lives up to the promise of the director’s first film featuring Laurie vs. Michael.
‘Halloween’ as a franchise never truly ends (no matter how many times Michael has died – or appeared to), but this particular conclusion is never as satisfying as it might have been, and that’s a shame.
‘Halloween Ends’ receives 2.5 out of 5 stars.