[Review] Halloween Ends (2022) by Marcus Wilturner

Evil Dies tonight. Evil ENDS tonight. That’s right horrorhounds and casuals. One more trip to Haddonfield, Illinois. One more Halloween night. One more nighttime slaughter. One more climactic encounter. One More Film. So, let’s get into this. It’s a name that’s synonymous with evil incarnate and darkness itself. Since 1978, The Shape has sliced up a place and niche in slasher cinema that’s been rightfully cemented since that bygone era. Even with the initial not-so-welcoming response from critics and the general public, slashers as a concept have scratched, clawed, stabbed, and carved their way into the confines of cinematic history. And whenever you reflect on the face of fear, the face of the boogeyman, and the face of Halloween, there’s one mask that peaks out from the crowd and stands the test of time. And that’s Michael freaking Myers.

For those living under a rock or simply not a fan, let’s explain this franchise with some cliff notes. Okay, so the saga of Halloween contains literally TWELVE films spanning multiple decades and three separate timelines. First there’s the original John Carpenter timeline which consists of the most overall films. Those features are the influential masterpiece Halloween (1978), serviceable sequel Halloween II (1981), quirky spin-off Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), solid Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), decent Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), odd yet adequate Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), fantastic Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), and lastly the abysmal, but semi-cultish Halloween Resurrection (2002).

Five years after Resurrection, director Rob Zombie took control of the franchise with his own trashy, depraved, pervasive reboot Halloween (2007) and Halloween 2 (2009). While those films were largely despised when first released, they’ve since gained a steady following who appreciate Zombie’s approach more than others. Though personally, they’re putrid iterations that exchange the suspense, eeriness, and subtle nuances that’s come before with over-the-top trailer park antics, gratuitous nudity, and impulsively sadistic characters.

And now, we’re in the David Gordon Green/Danny McBride timeline with their sequel/reboot of the original Carpenter film from 1978.  Perplexed? Yeah, well many are… And I haven’t even gotten to the multiple trilogies and timelines within these twelve films. For more history, theories, and other musings, consult your local horror-nerd and mega-fan for further details. Though Myers has also been seen in comics, novels, video games, fanfiction, and pretty much every other medium imaginable. So, yeah, Mikey is a part of cinematic history. Past, Present, and future. Oh My!

And now, after ALL of that, we’ve reached the final (?) story in the Green/McBride trilogy and the 13th overall film in the institution with Halloween Ends (2022). A final bloodbath and love letter to the mythology spanning every single decade in momentous fashion.

As the story goes, four years after the events of the last film, Halloween Kills (2021), Laurie Strode is living decently in Haddonfield, trying to channel her paranoia and trauma into writing memoirs about her experiences, including the not-so-friendly town who’ve since blamed her and her granddaughter, Allyson, for its dark and bloody past. Though now, the gaslighting townsfolk have another scapegoat for their whispers, looks, and venom with the new resident “psycho,” Corey Cunningham; a shy, timid, insecure teen who was involved in the accidental death of a child two years ago. Soon, things become more eerie and dangerous when Micheal Myers finally resurfaces. His sights are silently set on the damaged Laurie and Corey, as well as anyone who is unfortunate enough to cross his path. An incredibly different but vicious final confrontation ensues.

First off, much like Kills, this story went in a couple directions that many won’t see coming. Recall plenty of people complaining that the trailers revealed too much, but they, implicitly, did not. Secondly, as the story goes in those various directions there’s some referencing and homaging, even negating previous installments in a multitude of ways. From easter eggs, and even a few lesser cameos there’s a smidge to unpack in this grueling thriller. Green, as a director, writer, and lover of this franchise continues to draw upon the mythos and bring out its own sustainable and alluring saga. Albeit divisive and a bit unnecessary considering this is the thirteenth project. But who am I (or anyone) to talk as a lover of comic book films and established multiverses. Though it does bring a chuckle to this humble schmoe’s face when the opposite happens, and horrorhounds complain about comic book flicks when this or Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street are their favorite franchises. Ironic.

Anywho, there’s little doubt this installment will irrevocably divide fans once again. In fact, it’s going on as this review is being typed. Is the division an appropriate reaction? To an extent. Definitely more understandable here than the lines drawn over Kills. This entry does feature another violent and satisfying confrontation between Laurie and The Shape, but to get to that point the story focuses a LOT on Corey, Allyson, and the even shittier inhabitants of Haddonfield. Because of that, this certainly doesn’t completely feel like a Halloween film for like, maybe half of its running time. And while some will enjoy that narrative deviation, others will be completely bothered by it. And honestly, the masses will have to watch and see where they stand.

Performance wise, this is strictly Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, and newcomer Rohan Campbell’s game. As well as the original Myers, Nick Castle returns and James Jude Courtney as well. The five of them pretty much ARE the film (Along with the John and Cody Carpenter score) with Curtis leading the charge, her legendary portrayal brimming with poise, conviction, strength, and gravitas. Was this an appropriate sendoff for her and the character of Laurie Strode? I believe so. Was this an appropriate sendoff for Micheal Myers? I believe so. If it actually sticks. Because as we all know, Myers doesn’t stay gone forever. Evil never really dies, no matter how many times we may yell it does at nauseum. It simply, changes shape, and becomes another breed altogether. So we’ll just have to wait and see what it shifts into next, and if we’ll be willing for another bad night.

See you for the next All Hallows’ Eve. Maybe.

Rating:

Review written by Marcus Wilturner

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