Halloween Ends (2022) Review
ENDING ON A “BOOGEYMAN” WHIMPER
In 2018, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions released the horror slasher film Halloween, the eleventh installment in the Halloween series and the direct sequel to the original 1978 feature. Directed by David Gordon Green, the film, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak, is sets 40 years after the events of the first film and follows Laurie Strode, who post-traumatic encounter with Michael Meyers has left her paranoid of the masked man return, while her estranged daughter and granddaughter prepare for Halloween festivities as Michael escapes from captivity and runs amok on a murdering killing spree; prompting Laurie to take up arms / action against the Haddonfield “boogeyman” once again. 2018’s Halloween was received well by both fans and critics with mostly positive reviews, with many praising Curtis’s performance, Green’s direction, the score, and the kills, with a “return to basics” mantra that had alluded most of the Halloween sequels over the years. The film itself went onto to make roughly $255 million at the box office worldwide, becoming the highest grossing Halloween movie in the franchise as well as the highest horror slasher movie in the genre. With the idea for a planned new trilogy and with the success that this particular gained, Universal Studios / Blumhouse greenlit the next entry in Green’s new Halloween endeavor, with Halloween Kills being released in 2021. The movie continues immediately after the events of 2018’s Halloween, further exploring Meyer’s ruthlessness and violent killing spree on the citizens of Haddonfield as well as further testing the Strode family clan. While released both in theaters and on Peacock streaming service platform, Halloween Kills received mixed reviews from critics and moviegoers alike with the project receiving lower profits ($131 million) at the box office. Now, a year after the release of Halloween Kills, evil returns to Haddonfield and prepares to do battle with Laurie Strode for one final showdown in the film Halloween Ends. Does this last entry in Green’s trilogy gets a satisfying send off for Michael and Laure or does it end on a befuddling and weak final chapter in this new Halloween saga.
In 2019, Corey (Rohan Campbell), a young adult man with great prospect for the future, is on a babysitting assignment for one Jeremy Allen (Jaxon Goldenberg), an obnoxious kid from a wealthy family, on Halloween night. The experience proves to be deadly, with the boy locking Corey in a room, forcing the guardian to break the door down, yet not realizing the child is right behind it, watching him fall to his death. In 2022, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is trying to find solace within the darkness of her past; processing her experiences with Michael Myers by writing a book, hoping to bring some type of emotional closure as she rebuilds her life with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), who’s struggling with feelings of loneliness. Witnessing the cruel treatment of Corey by local bullies, Laurie hopes to play matchmaker, bring the wayward man to meet Allyson, with the pair instantly hitting it off. Their relationship is challenged by the pressures of infamy, and when Corey is once again ridiculed by Haddonfield troublemakers, he makes an unexpected contact with Michael Myers, who’s been in hiding for several years in the sewers beneath the town. The initial contact with Haddonfield’s “boogeyman” shakes Corey, yet something begins to happen to the young man, which Laurie immediately recognizes and fears for what may come for Allyson and for the people in town.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I was never a big fan of the Michael Myers Halloween movies; finding the whole masked slasher serial killer to be a bit repetitive. I did like the original 1978 film, but the subsequential sequels just felt dumb, silly, and started to get a tad bland; recycling several ideas and come up with concept that felt so off-kilter. Thus, I was a bit leery to see 2018’s Halloween, but I was quite taken with this direct sequel to the original Halloween movie. Yes, it had its faults and was still the same type of “slasher” endeavor, but I think that the story seems more refined and gave this franchise a “back to basics” mantra, which ultimately worked in the films favor. Plus, it returned the focus back to Curtis’s Laurie Strode; revolving the movie’s narrative around her and her relationship with her daughter, her estrangement from her granddaughter, and how fate brings her and Michael back together again for a fateful confrontation. It’s one of predictable plot points, with many classic horror cannon fodder supporting characters for Michael / The Shape to slash and kill, but 2018’s Halloween was a welcomed sight and certainly breathe new life into the long-running horror franchise. Flash forward to the year 2021 and Halloween Kills, the sequel to 2018’s Halloween, was released and it faced mixed results. Personally, I did like how it continued the narrative of what began in the 2018 film by immediately jumping right into the movie (as mentioned Halloween Kills takes place a few minutes after Halloween) and continues to showcase Michael’s violent killing spree (perhaps the best in the series) and depicting the madness of what evil can do. That being said, the movie itself was riddled with problems, including sidelining Curtis’s Laurie Strode for most of the picture. Plus, goofy moments, cheesy dialogue lines, and ridiculous plot points hinder the sequel by limping towards its conclusion rather than hitting its stride. Thus, Halloween Kills faced a dilemma of having neither a beginning nor a real ending; becoming a middling middle chapter of this trilogy.
This brings me back to talking about Halloween Ends, a 2022 horror movie, the sequel to Halloween Kills, and the final installment in Green’s new Halloween trilogy. Given how the 2021 sequel was received by many, a third entry in this new Halloween narrative was questionable and could possibly redeem the faults of how Halloween Kills handle the story of the Strode family and the inhabitants of Haddonfield. Thus, when it was announced that the third movie (titled Halloween Ends) was going to be coming out and a little bit interested to see where this final outing of Green’s trilogy will play out. How will Laurie (as well as Allyson) overcome their troubled pasts? How will Michael Myers resurface in the movie? Who will Myers kill? How will the final showdown between Laurie and Myers play out? All of these (and more) were just some of the questions that I pondered when thinking about how Halloween Ends will ultimately…well…end. There were a few movie trailers that were released over the past few months, but most of them were relatively short and acted almost like TV spots for the project and nothing more. Heck, I really didn’t see any of them when I went to the movies during the “coming attractions” previews. Perhaps this was a somewhat of a good thing as I can of went into the movie with very little previews of some of the feature’s highlighted scenes. So, I decided to catch the movie during its opening weekend (opening night) to see if this particular horror sequel will need justify the mistakes made in Halloween Kills and bring the conclusion to the Myers / Stroud conflict. And what did I think of it? Well, it was disappointing. Despite a good understanding of evil (and how it works) as well as solid final act, Halloween Ends is a confusing and clunky final outing for Green’s vision of this beloved horror franchise. There are some redeeming qualities to the movie, but those are few and far between, which makes the whole slasher endeavor uninteresting and tad bit goofy….and that’s disappointing, especially when the 2018 feature showed such promise.
Returning to the director’s chair is David Gordon Green, whose previous directorial works include the past two Halloween movies (2018’s Halloween and 2021’s Halloween Kills) as well as several TV episodes such as Vice Principals and Eastbound & Down. Given his familiarity by directing the previous two films, Gordon’s returning to helm this particular Halloween sequel seems like suitable / logical choice, with the director approaching the material with knowledge of how to stage / execute such a horror endeavor for the modern age. Despite the film’s missteps in a few areas (more on that below), Green’s approach to this third and final outing of his Halloween trilogy does add a few more wrinkles into the narrative development. For starters, Green continues the narrative thread of the surviving members of Strode family and how they must move forward in their lives, despite the tragedy that has befallen them. Given the amount of attention that is received by having more of a stronger narrative story in Green’s Halloween movies than the previous iterations of this iconic slasher flick, it goes without saying Halloween Ends continues that trend by having a bit more grounded story to tell and focuses on characters rather just the common place “hack and slash”. This is further personified in the new character of Corey Cunningham, with the film’s opening sequences being dedicated to introducing him as well as the dark stigma that follows him throughout the feature. This is sort of a “give and take” in Halloween Ends as it’s probably an interesting aspect to fully examine yet becomes a bit trouble in its execution as the story unfolds.
Naturally, the move hints at the “big showdown” between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, with their final battle with each other being highlighted in the third act finale. It’s definitely exciting to see and delivers some of the best moments of the entire feature. It works. It’s fast, brutal, and tension-filled; something that was promised. That being said, I still think that the battle between Michael and Laurie in 2018’s Halloween was superior, yet what’s presented in Halloween Ends definitely is exciting and delivers on a solid showdown piece between the franchises’ protagonist and antagonist. Of course, like the other two Halloween movies, there killings that occur in the film still continue to be the big highlight of the feature, with Halloween Ends having some creative and downright gruesome deaths to some of the people of Haddonfield. I don’t think that they are quite as violent or dark as some that are depicted in Halloween Kills, but they are nevertheless they are quite effective in the usage of practical effects, creative moments, and how the feature still hasn’t lost its touch within the violent acts of an evil serial killer.
Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects that Green has done with his interpretations of the Halloween narrative is in making unified thematic message throughout the entire endeavor. With Green being the sole director for each of the films that make up this new trilogy, it’s bit fascinating that we (the viewers) get to see his complete vision for what he had for Michael Myers and the Strode family. This comes in contrast with so many franchises out there that are altered and / or changed in tone and narrative structures with passing of the baton between directors. So, while this particular installment has its issues (and ends up being the weaker entry of the three), it’s nice to see one director’s whole vision come to life from what he began back in 2018.
Naturally, this brings up the topic of the feature’s thematic elements of surrounding evil itself…. those who harbor it, born from it, or created from it. This poignant look into the nature of evil has been depicted throughout Green’s Halloween trilogy and showing different facets of particular force. This has been well-explained throughout the course of each installment, showcasing on how evil can’t be overthrown or beaten so easily, how evil can endure, and how the fear of evil can be manipulated in everyone. Thus, it comes at no surprise that Halloween Ends continues that trend, with Green displaying the nature of evil within the fragile state that is placed upon the character of Corey Cunningham…. how circumstance play out to be portrayed as the villain, how society looks upon him, and ultimately interact with him. In addition, Green still continues the trend of dealing with evil within the character of Laurie Strode, who (in the movie) is writing a book on surviving her hell-ish encounters with Myers. These sequences (that are presented in voiceover from Curtis’s Laurie) are good and help round out thematic message of dealing and overcoming the nature of evil.
Similar to what I previous mentioned in my two previous Halloween reviews, Halloween Ends presentation is relatively kept to a small budget, with the production giving (somewhere between $20-30 million), but I think that (like before) Green and his team once again smartly utilize what’s been giving to them and effective making the background setting of the movie believable and life-like in the various locations that take place to depict the town of Haddonfield. In comparison, to the two previous entries, this movie features new locations that, while different, definitely give off that classic “horror movie” appeal and décor, with especial attention drawing towards the feature’s “behind the scenes” team, including Richard A. Wright (production designs), Michael H. Ward (art direction), Shannon Hearing, Sean Keenan, and Jess Royal (set decorations), and Timothy Alverson (film editing. Naturally, the film’s cinematography by Michael Simmonds also provides this point, with the DP offering up a few slick camera angles and horror cinematics to help build upon the franchise’s iconic killing spree of gruesome violence. Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by original Halloween director John Carpenter as well as Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies, is also fantastic to listen to throughout the movie. There are a couple of moments of where the score is compromised by modern style of movie soundtrack, but a great majority of the musical composition is derived of the classic horror style of the late 70s / 80s of techno-ish piano melodies and other nuances, which helps build up the feature’s tension and amping up the horror aspects for scare tactics. Of course, hearing the classic “Halloween” theme in the movie was always a treat to hear and still is iconic and chilling to hear.
Unfortunately, the movie comes with several glaring points of criticisms that really do cripple the movie from being quite outstanding or even memorable. Perhaps the biggest problem against the film is in the overall narrative construction that Halloween Ends goes through. What do I mean? Well….as mentioned above…. the movie does provide an interesting curve ball into this iconic horror slasher by introducing a new main character in the form of Corey Cunningham. However, while interesting, it actually becomes quite distraction in the film’s narrative, especially since his character gets more screen in the movie (as well in the script) and pushes aside the established ones. Of course, I do understand some of the reasoning behind it, with attention towards the nature of evil and the classic “mob mentality” can do to a person (as stated above), but it becomes too distraction to the main focus, which should be more focused on Strode family and their dealings with Michael Myers.
Because of this, Halloween Ends goes off more of a tangent and is much more less focused on the actual main plot of the movie. With so much time devoted to one particular new character, it’s almost like a story surrounding Corey could’ve been whole other movie entirely with the Halloween premise being shoehorned in. This makes for a very unbalance narrative to take and merely focuses on a “new type of evil”, which again fits Green’s vision for his Halloween trilogy, yet feels a bit “too little, too late” by the time it arrives in this movie. This also makes the film’s main plot twist feel very contrive and almost a bit lame. When it happened, I kind of felt cheated because it shouldn’t be this way, especially since this horror trilogy is focusing on Strode family and not so much on outsiders. Speaking of this new plot device twist, the first half of the feature feels rather dull and boring. There are some moments that definitely and are solid during this portion of the movie, yet it still feels a bit tiresome (almost a slog) to go through and doesn’t really have much excitement. Yes, it helps build up characters (new and old) for the movie, but feels boring to say the least. For slasher movie (and one of the more famous franchise of that particular subgenre), Halloween Ends has more of a psychological thriller with a splash of horror elements. It’s during the first half of which this tone feels like, with Green placing some divisive moments for character and building everything for the second half of the feature, which certainly does feel more like a Halloween movie. That being said, the pacing for Halloween Ends comes at that cost, with the first half being more of a psychological movie and not a horror slasher at all.
There are (of course) plenty of cheesy and off-putting character dialogue moments that are littered throughout the movie, which I do understand is a bit commonplace for horror movies, including the previous two Halloween features from Green. Yet, the come off just as bad and cringeworthy in several moments in the film, which I do hate because it shows a bit of lazy writing in the script handling and just reinforces how stupid / bad decisions that people make in horror movies. Again, I do know that is a common practice with horror flicks (more in the sense of classic horror slashers), but it just comes as a contrite. Another part of the movie that will surely draw more criticism is in how Michael Myers is handled in the movie. I’ll go more into detail my paragraphs below about it, but I felt that it was poorly mismanaged and also gets pushed aside, which was incredibly stupid on director and script handling. In fact, I completely forgot to mention the movie’s script was penned by Green as well as Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride, and it the final product of it all comes with famous coined phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen”, which makes Halloween Ends feels like its pulling from this way and that from different writers who wanted something else than what was originally projected. This comes at the cost of the movie having a very disjointed feeling and running a very haphazard narrative path that becomes problematic.
Lastly, I felt that the closing moments of the feature were a bit underwhelming. Given the fact that this movie is supposed to close out the infamous battle between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, it felt a bit incomplete and concludes the final moments of this beloved horror slasher franchise on a pretty “meh” moment. Maybe a few more scenes here and there would’ve suffice, with narrative and / or character bits to fully close this narrative for the franchise. Yet, what was presented barely suffice that and feels lackluster rather than rousing satisfaction.
Similar to what I said in my review for Halloween Kills, the cast in Halloween Ends still continues to be a mixture of okay and “meh” in opinion. While not as entirely bad as the 2021 sequel film, the movie still makes the characters either too broad or sidelines with inane quirks and traits that really don’t come to fruition as intended. Who probably fares the best in the movie is the one that draws the most criticism in Halloween Ends in the character Corey Cunningham, who is played by actor Rohan Campbell. Known for his roles in The Hardy Boys, Snowpiercer, and Operation Christmas Drop, Campbell isn’t quite the known actor, which is kind of good in my opinion, so there really not a whole lot to judge him on. On that point, I think that he actually does a good job in the film; making Corey feel very sympathetic in the first half of the feature through the usage of isolation and loneliness. You definitely feel for him, and Campbell does make the vulnerable moments work. However, as the movie progress, the character gets a bit messy (and confusing), which again is part of the problem with this particular film. This also makes the justification for his appearance in the movie a bit wonky and basically should’ve been removed altogether for a better focused narrative. Thus, in the end, despite Campbell’s efforts as an actor, the character of Corey Cunningham starts off strong, but becomes flat and generic.
Behind Campbell’s Corey, actress Andi Matichak returns this Halloween trilogy by reprising her character role of Allyson Strode, Laurie Strode’s granddaughter. Known for her roles in Miles, Evol, and Son, Matichak continues to be an interesting character in Gordon’s Halloween trilogy, yet it’s almost a step back from what was established back in Halloween Kills. It’s not for a lack of trying on Matichak’s part as her acting is good for what the character needs, yet can be a bit cheesy at times. However, most of criticism of Allyson comes from how she was written into Halloween Ends, especially since her character doesn’t really grow much in the movie. After coming into her own in Halloween Kills (more as a stronger protagonist than a cliched young teenage girl), Halloween Ends sees Allyson having more weaker narrative evolution. I get where the script was going for her character, a loss individual who is need of a friend (found in Corey Cunningham), but it feels a bit limp and underwhelming, especially as it moves into the latter half of the feature. Heck, she really doesn’t even reflect that much on the death of her mother, which was a big deal and could’ve played a larger part in the film. Thus, Matichak’s Allyson comes off as plot device cog in Halloween Ends, neither getting a good character arc like in the previous film nor dealing doing much except to push the plot forward.
Lastly, Halloween veteran actress Jamie Lee Curtis returns to reprise her beloved horror character role of Laurie Strode for one last time in the franchise. Known for her roles in True Lies, Freaky Friday, and Trading Places, Curtis has become a well-known actress throughout her career, with her performance as Laurie Strode being one of the more iconic roles in her filmography. This was probably one of the more interesting aspects of the 2018 Halloween film, with Curtis delivering a great performance as an older and more paranoid Laurie. In Halloween Kills, however, her character gets sidelined for most of the film, which was quite disappointing, but (on the other hand) it made room for Matichak and Greer to build upon their characters. Thus, in Halloween Ends, Laurie returns with more screen time, but still with some clunky hiccups along the way. Curtis is still a delightful treat as the older version of Laurie, who is still battle-hardened and cautious about the return of Myers, yet still has found a somewhat “peace” with her tragic past, especially after losing her daughter. It’s kind of amusing to see Curtis’s Laurie fretting about a burnt pie or going to the grocery store in the movie (a somewhat alternative universe Laurie Strode) and having more of a domestic side rather than just battling The Shape. Still, while these changes are indeed welcome, there were plenty of moments that could’ve easily been added to make the character more prominent in the movie as well as pushing her aside for larger side to make room for new characters (i.e., Corey Cunningham). In the end, Curtis still anchors the film in a good way and gives that extra punch in Halloween Ends’s narrative, yet still comes off as a little bit limp on fulling fleshing out Laurie Strode’s final outing.
Of course, the big “boogeyman” character in the movie returns, with Michael Myers / The Shape resurfacing after the events of Halloween Kills to wreak havoc on the town of Haddonfield. Like before, writer / director Nick Castle (The Last Starfighter and Tap) reprises the iconic horror character in a limited capacity, with much of the handling work for Michael is giving to actor James Jude Courtney (Knot’s Landing and Far and Away). Unfortunately, this particular iconic silent serial killer is pretty much sidelined for most of the movie (as mentioned above) and doesn’t have the same type of screen presence as he did in the previous two Halloween movies. Of course, his return at the end of the feature for the “big showdown” with Laurie works, but it’s a bit disappointing to see such a beloved horror character get reduced down in his own movie.
Sadly, the returning supporting characters from the previous two Halloween movies don’t really amount to much. This includes actors Will Patton (Remember the Titans and Armageddon) and Omar J. Dorsey (The Blind Slide and Queen Sugar) as Deputy Sherriff Frank Hawkins and the current sheriff of Haddonfield Sherriff Barker. It seemed like in the earlier scripts for the movie that Patton was going to have more of substantial role in the movie, especially when examining the familiarity with both Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Unfortunately, the final form of the script doesn’t allow much for the character and diminishes Patton’s Frank Hawkins in the finished product of the feature. As for Barker, his screen time is greatly reduced and acts more like a cameo-like appearance in the film.
The rest of the cast, including actor Jesse C. Boyd (Palmer and TURN: Washingtons Spies) as Allyson’s ex-boyfriend Officer Mullaney, actress Joanne Baron (Indignation and Total Eclipse) as Corey’s overbearing mother Joan Cunningham, actor Rick Moose (Blackbear and Magic City) as Corey’s father Ronald Cunningham, actor Keraun Harris (Black-ish and 30 Days 2 Life) as local Haddonfield radio DJ Willy the Kid, actor Michael O’Leary (Guiding Light and Law & Order: Organized Crime) as Allyson’s boss at the local hospital Dr. Mathis, actress Michele Dawson (Can’t Go Home and Criminal Minds) as Allyson’s co-worker Deb, actor Michael Barbieri (Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Dark Tower) as leader of gang of bullies who target Corey named Terry, with actress Destiny Mone (Red Hoods & Outlaws and Despise Not, My Youth) as Stacy, actress Joey Harris (Lisa Frankenstein) as Margo, and musician Marteen as Billy, who make up Terry’s gang, young actor Jaxon Goldberg (Alice and Modern Family) as Jeremy Allen, and actress Candice Rose (Stranger Things and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law) and actor Jack William Marshall (All Over It and A Cry from Within) as Jeremy’s parents Mrs. and Mr. Allen, round out the remaining minor characters in the movie. While most of these characters have limited screen-time, their performances get the job done within Halloween End’s timeframe. Although, I felt maybe one or two of them could’ve been easily expanded upon or have more a prominent placement in the film (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. Allen).
Something old, something new arises once again in the town of Haddonfield as evil returns as Laurie Strode’s old nemesis resurfaces for one final confrontation in the movie Halloween Ends. Director David Gordon Green’s latest film returns to the narrative that began back in 2018; establishing what was presented in the previous two films and coming to its ending with this picture of masked serial killer and the struggles of several individuals who are entangled in “The Shape’s” terror. Unfortunately, despite the movie having a good presentation, several good character-built moments, a continuative thread of examining the nature of evil, the film struggles to find a proper balance, especially in throwing a curve ball in its narrative structure, a lame twist, clunky dialogue, a lack of the main villain, and underwhelming screen time (and development) for several characters to the franchise. Personally, I was bit disappointed in this movie. Yes, the movies thematical elements about evil is still quite intriguing and that the final confrontation between Michael and Laurie is thrilling (as well as few other nuances), but the movie still feels unbalanced and could’ve been so much more than what was presented. I still do like this particular trilogy much better than the other Halloween sequels, with a more “back to basics” essential of what made Carpenter’s classic a classic, but what started out great and exciting in 2018 has faded, becoming more of a slog. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a sad “skip it” as the movie doesn’t really offer much beyond the film’s final twenty minutes. Of course, the future of the Halloween franchise still remains elusive with any type of possibilities, including a spin-off continuation or remakes of sorts. It’s hard to say, but I personally don’t think one would be great. In the end, Halloween Ends does what it sets out to do by given the long-awaited Michael Meyers / Laurie Strode saga of blood, violence, and death an ending, but fails to deliver a satisfying final outing for this narrative, making this new trilogy starting off with a “horror-filled” bang and ending on a “boogeyman” whimper.
2.4 Out of 5 (Skip It)
Released On: October 14th, 2022
Reviewed On: October 18th, 2022
Halloween Ends is 111 minutes long and is rated R for language, sexual situations, and violence, and gore