My initial reaction to ‘Halloween Ends’ was more of an emotional one. As I left the theater I knew exactly where I was going to place this on my ranking list; sandwiching it between my previous two least favorites, ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ and ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’. Not because the movie was different, but because of how out of place this feels for a final film in a trilogy. I went in wanting to love it, but walked out disappointed.
Last night I decided to give it a second viewing with fresh eyes and an open mind, knowing what to expect, and to focus on the things that I liked and disliked. I wanted to look at it objectively and observe the movie for what it was, and to see if there was more merit to it than I gave it credit for.
As such, here are my key Pros and Cons for ‘Halloween Ends’:
The score from John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies remains the single best element to David Gordon Green’s trilogy. Whether or not you liked or disliked the newest three films in the franchise, there should be no doubt that the scores from the trio of musicians have been consistently outstanding, and the score for ‘Halloween Ends’ may very well be my favorite of the three, but I need a little bit more time to process that before I can cement that opinion. In fact, I’m listening to it as I’m typing this up, and it’s beautiful.
This film continues David Gordon Green’s tributes to the early days of the franchise, with each of the three films mirroring the first three films in structure and title font. What do I mean by this? Well, the 2018 film’s opening credits not only brings back the classic pumpkin sequence, but the orange font is exactly like that of John Carpenter’s film, and like that film, Green’s first film is a simple and subtle story in which Michael escapes and returns to his home town just in time for the holiday; there are off screen kills, and we get big chunks of time with the characters. When it comes to the sequels, you may not notice right away, but there is a slight difference between the font of the 1978 original and the 1981 sequel, and for Green’s second film, the opening credits font adopts that font change from ‘Halloween 2’. Just like Rick Rosenthal’s sequel, Green’s sequel picks up where the last film ended and takes place on the same night. Likewise, as Rosenthal’s sequel went for a more slasher vibe, so did Green’s sequel – plus both films have Laurie Strode sidelined to a hospital bed throughout. And finally, for Green’s third film, he uses the slanted blue font from ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’ (1982). As far as mirroring the structure of Wallace’s film, Green’s third film spans over a few days leading into the 31st, which kicks off the third act. Although ‘Halloween Ends’ doesn’t superimpose the dates until the 31st, with all of the day to night scenes, it’s obvious that following the credits sequence, the story begins a few days before Halloween night. I’m not 100% certain that it takes place over the exact span of days as ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’ did, but I’m willing to bet that it does. This is an element of David Gordon Green’s films that I really appreciate.
The story, which I’ll touch a lot more on in the Cons section, isn’t necessarily bad. I liked aspects of it and I appreciated the effort to do something a little different than what has come before. I thought the Corey Cunningham character was interesting, and Rohan Campbell gave a solid performance. I wouldn’t have a problem with this as a stand-alone Halloween story or even as its own original story not connected to the franchise. At its core, it’s a character driven film – but as much as I do like it, it’s not a story that belongs as the end of a trilogy.
The biggest frustration that I have with this movie is how out of place it feels with the two films before it, and how it doesn’t pay off any theme or character development established prior because they made the creative decision to focus on an entirely new character rather than properly bring closure to the arcs from the first two. They come close with Laurie by showing her new outlook on life as she writes her memoirs, but even this is a second thought to the over-all story. The 2018 film established Laurie as a paranoid recluse who believed that there was something personal between her and Michael, but she never became a target to him in that film until Dr. Sartain chauffeured the Shape to her home. In the second film, Laurie learns the truth that it’s not all about her. There could have been a lot of good material about how that revelation shaped her life and the regret she could have felt about how it consumed her and sacrificed her relationship with her daughter. This should have been Laurie’s story, front and center, but it’s not. Also, it feels as a disservice to Laurie’s arc for the townspeople to blame Laurie for “provoking” Myers. There’s no basis for that accusation anywhere in this series, and so it makes no sense.
Speaking of which, I was incredibly frustrated by the lack of Frank Hawkins in this movie. In the 2018 film it is established that Hawkins was on-scene in 1978 and that he prevented Sam Loomis from killing Michael. He’s an important supporting character throughout the majority of the movie, but he is seemingly killed off when attacked and ran over by Sartain. They then chose to retcon that death for the second film by having him survive, and then they really hammer down his significance to this new story with the (fantastic) flash-back sequence to 1978. Despite being limited to a hospital bed throughout the duration of the movie, they continue to develop his relationship with Laurie and his guilt for how his actions in 1978 made the current day massacre from Michael possible. Instead of further developing both of those aspects, he’s just nothing more than an extended cameo in ‘Halloween Ends’, and that is not only a disservice to the character of Hawkins, but also to Will Patton, who is a fantastic actor and one of the more likeable characters in this new time-line.
Another big con for me about this movie is the treatment of the Michael Myers character. The Shape should never be shown as vulnerable, and that’s what they did here. Now, I get what they were trying to do: they were certainly leaning towards the idea of “the more he kills, the more he transcends”, but seeing him all gimpy and then convulse after killing the dick-head cop was very cringe, at least for me. They clearly went the supernatural route in ‘Halloween Kills’ when Michael gets back up after being shot and beaten – and they continue that with the whole “eyes” thing they do at the moment he has a grip on Corey in the sewer – so it doesn’t really seem necessary to show Michael in that light. The idea of Michael disappearing after Halloween night in 2018 and the story jumping ahead a few years isn’t a bad idea; it feels like the potential was there: hell, there’s a giant billboard sign about a girl who went missing on Halloween night a year or two prior (I can’t remember the year), and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have The Shape lurking around, doing his thing, and showing the effect this would have on the towns people. Centering the story on Laurie getting her shit together and coping as the town around her succumbs to fear and paranoia would have been the ideal focal point for this final story.
Lastly, while The Shape teaming up with someone is a little out of character, I didn’t quite hate the concept of it – particularly with Corey having his own mask – but where this idea loses is me is when Corey punks Michael out of nowhere and steals his mask. To be honest, if Corey had done all of his kills with his own mask instead of dressing like Michael, I would have been a little more open to this idea. But I suppose if that was the case, they wouldn’t have had enough material of Michael for the marketing.
I’m sure over time and with more viewings it’ll grow on me, and I have no doubt that this is one that’s going to have a strong following of defenders. It’s not an awful movie, but it’s not even close to being my favorite, and that’s because I dislike the choices that they made for the final film of the new time-line.
What did YOU think about ‘Halloween Ends’? Did you like it? love it? Hate it?
Tune into The Horror Syndicate Discourse this Wednesday, October 19th on YouTube or Facebook and let us know!