The time it takes between a story being told and the expectations skyrocketing for the continuation is in the moment between the final shot and the credits. The audience, feeling excited, fulfilled, or otherwise moved by the tale they’ve experienced start to immediately clamor for more. The issue is that sometimes those expectations get in the way of the artist and their intent, making it so that what the audience receives is treated like a stocking full of coal instead of that high-end gift they’ve been asking for. This happened with Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections (2021); their respective audiences queued up with a head cannon of how things should go, only for what the creatives devised being in direct conflict. Now it’s co-writer/director David Gordon Green’s turn with Halloween Ends, his final film in a trilogy that seeks to wrap up the Laurie Strode/Michael Myers conflict which began in 1978. To do this, he all but removed the physical form of Michael Myers, fully-shifting the Shape into spirit, diving into the essence of evil and the wake such terror leaves. Perhaps it’s because this writer has limited exposure to the Halloween series created by Debra Hill and John Carpenter, but Green’s Ends is a powerful film that those open to his tale can now explore at will with its release on home video.
In the four years since Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) last appeared, the Boogeyman of Haddonfield hasn’t been seen, but his presence is everywhere. Adding fuel to the paranoia and fear is Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man whose babysitting job three years prior on Halloween night tragically included the death of his charge. Everywhere he goes, the eyes of Haddonfield see another terror, another killer, ostracizing him at every turn. Not too much unlike Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who each continue to struggle in their own way with moving on from their failed battles and close calls with the Shape. But this Halloween, something happens that sees a new and an old threat emerge, something that comes both from beneath and within Haddonfield itself. And with it, one way or another, comes the end.
If you’re looking for a spoiler-free exploration of Halloween Ends, please head to the initial theatrical/streaming release review. Moving forward, spoiler-related material will be discussed.
It’s perfectly fine for someone not to like a film. One shouldn’t *have* to say this, but, in these times where opinion is taken as fact, it bears reminding: just because someone likes something, doesn’t mean you have to and vice versa. This is not an attack on your person or your value system. Being frustrated that a Halloween film barely features Michael Myers makes sense when the last two films in the Gordon films featured the silent killer heavily. Feeling cheated because the climactic battle between Laurie and Michael took only a few minutes and occurred by sheer happenstance (calculated and specific by the script), literally an act of chance manufactured by Corey, yet was trumped up by the marketing? Absolutely fair. I would, however, ask you to consider not the history of Halloween, but Green’s trilogy as a whole before you totally go off on what some consider a misalignment of a series, a malignant attack on slashers, and a total misunderstanding of what fans want.
If Halloween (2018) is about facing our demons and Kills (2021) is about how far-reaching Michael’s terror ran through all of Haddonfield, then Ends is a thoughtful examination of trauma and the way that society creates its monsters. Not since the original 1978 film have audiences been able to see as much of Haddonfield as they do in Ends and it’s not looking great. Sure, it’s October in Illinois, but what we see of the town in its lighting, production design, and overall appearance, is that it’s as though something’s been feeding off of it. You get glimpses of this in the 2018 film, but Kills is entirely shrouded in darkness, so any sense of morality within the citizens is masked; perfect for a mob shouting “Evil dies tonight!” to gather in, their fear causing more violence to the point of an innocent life being taken. Even four years after that fateful night when Haddonfield lost their opportunity to remove the threat of Michael Myers from their lives, a fault of hubris mixed with vicious glee that’s internally disguised revenge as justice, Haddonfield and its citizens wear their scars. Only this time, we get to see more of it. Note that the only places with a strong splash of color come from either the radio station run by a DJ who constantly mouth’s off on Michael’s legacy or Lindsey’s (Kyle Richards) bar, run by a twice survivor (Lindsey) who is finding peace in her existence. The point, longwinded though it may be, is that Haddonfield is as much a character now as its people and it’s telling the audience that something is entirely rotten here, but it’s become so expected that no one seems to notice who lives there.
Taking the idea of the spirit of Michael damaging the town, the character of Corey is one which is meant to be a mirror to Laurie. Except, instead of being a survivor like her who’s treated like a victim by the town, he’s seen as a murderer like Michael due to accidentally killing the child in his care. Green and co-writers Danny McBride, Chris Bernier, and Paul Brad Logan make it clear in the opening sequence when we meet Corey that what happens *is* an accident brought on by the child being a shitbag and playing pranks on his babysitter resulting in the kid getting knocked over a guardrail when Corey freed himself from a locked room that the kid put him in. This garners the audience’s sympathy, but it also shows us that it doesn’t matter if it was an accident or not, taking a life changes you. In this case, the continued abuse by the town and possible-lifetime abuse from his controlling and obsessive mother created a window through which the formerly quiet dark parts of Corey could grow. Thus, a child of Haddonfield, deemed a killer, finds himself face-to-face with the rotting form of Michael Myers and a recognition of one killer to another takes place, along with a transference. After Corey escapes from Michael’s underground home, he crawls through a tight circle that appears to move due to a camera spin: it’s a metaphysical rebirth, an awakening that brings with it new terror. Terror that wouldn’t have been possible if Haddonfield hadn’t told Corey over and again that he’s a murderer with no chance of change or sympathy. But why the focus on Corey, a character we hadn’t met until now, when there’s Andi and Laurie to explore? Because this film, more than the prior two, is about the choice to move on that each person has to make when something horrible happens. Laurie’s fear took years off her life, left her isolated and alone, seen as the town kook. Andi doesn’t want to become her mother, living in the same town as Laurie, tied to the Strode legacy, yet doesn’t want to abandon the only family she has left. These two characters have the opportunity, through Corey, to identify what has kept them where they are and the lessons they are ready to put in motion. We see this as Andi struggles with how to tell her grandmother that she wants to leave town. We see this as Laurie works on her memoir. Corey is both something new and something old, someone who also wanted to get out of Haddonfield but whose insides have become too twisted by his existence to leave in peace. This is why Corey is necessary to the larger story, to force Andi and Laurie to confront their pasts and take steps toward the future, but also for Haddonfield itself to be able to stare down into its own failings and own them. It’s why the burial procession with Michael is so emotionally rich for those whom enjoyed all the moments up to it. It lacks all the rage, all the fear, all the discord of “Evil dies tonight” and, is instead, guided by a weighted yet solemn peace.
By the by, for those who take issue with Laurie’s fight with Michael, I would remind you that she spent decades preparing for this fight. Green gave us scenes of her continued preparations in 2018, and just because a fighter retires doesn’t mean the fight is gone from within for good. Much like it is Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) who brings Michael to Laurie, manufacturing a confrontation that he, Laurie, and the audience think Michael wants, the only reason the two battle in Ends is because Corey steals the mask from Michael, forcing him to retrieve it. Corey’s death in Laurie’s home is not what Corey wanted and Michael emotes not at all about the loss of his apprentice nor at coming face-to-face with Laurie again. She is a target and nothing more. Though this film does build off of the ideas of Kills that murder seems to heal Michael, the only explanation for why he has survived his wounds from Kills and remains a threat now, he is still an old, injured man who is not as prepared as Laurie. In a manner, this fight reminded me of Kill Bill, Vol. 2 when Kiddo (Uma Thurman) and Bill (David Carradine) have their fight and it’s over in seconds. It’s the only way it could go: swift and brutal. Same with Laurie and Michael. She has the upper hand for a multitude of reasons and luck was on her side. The marketing implied that Michael would be on the hunt for her and, like other slashers before, there would be a cat-and-mouse game the whole film leading up to the battle. That’s far less interesting and far more expected than what Green delivers, for what we receive falls in line with the ideology of the films he’s made in the trilogy as a whole. With each film, he’s extended the circle of examination in the Michael Myers/Laurie Strode story to include first, her family, then, the other survivors, and, now, the town. You don’t have to like what he’s done. You don’t have to see it or acknowledge it. But, if you do see it and do acknowledge it, there comes an appreciation which lifts it from a simple slasher sequel into a classic tragic tale of the perpetual battle of good fighting the evil within.
Perhaps Ends is entirely your bag and perhaps it’s not. Unlike Kills, the home release of Ends does not include an extended version or an alternate cut of any kind. There are six deleted/extended scenes, but none provide any information not offered elsewhere or challenge their need in the final project. There are also six featurettes averaging around five to six minutes that offer deeper dives into everything from the themes of the film technically and narratively, a look inside the kills, costuming, and, of course, Curtis’s final performance as Laurie. Each of these offers some insight that will either answer some questions or raise them, which is why it’s also great that there’s a feature-length commentary track with Green, actors Matichak and Campbell, co-producer/first assistant director Atilla Salih Yücer, and production assistant Hugo Garza. I was delighted to get confirmation on my read of the Michael/Corey staring contest, and hearing Green talk about the significance of the final shots + Blue Oyster Cult confirmed the ideas of EoM editor Crystal Davidson who suspected things may not all be so well in Haddonfield in the end. In short, the featurettes are going to offer exactly what fans of Ends want, insight and behind the scenes treats.
Now for a word of caution for those who prefer digital ownership over physical: I had an issue accessing some of the bonus features via iTunes. The “No Place Like Haddonfield” and “Ending Halloween” featurettes had audio with no video at all whether trying to watch via tablet or Apple TV. I ran into this problem with Nope, another Universal release, this year, as well as others, like Searchlight Pictures’s Summer of Soul (2021). The physical disc edition, however, had no problems with either the audio or video on any of the materials.
Ahead of the physical release, Universal Pictures not only provided a review copy of the film, but two different editions to use in a giveaway: one Blu-ray and one 4K UHD code. In both of the posts about the giveaways, two different individuals made the same joke about not being able to give away the film. That’s genuinely how people feel about it. That it’s so bad, no one would want it. To those two people, that’s their honest evaluation, but, for folks like this reviewer, Ends is not just a satisfying horror film, it’s an exacting and incising exploration of humanity’s perpetual conflict with their good and evil natures and the responsibility of our community to foster the good and defend against the bad. There is no celebration at the bloody destruction of Michael Myers’s corpse because it’s a moment of incredible relief mixed with the recognition of failure. Against the bombast of Halloween (2018) and Kills, of course Ends is going to feel lesser. That’s mainly because, in the end, from my view, Green’s films weren’t built to satisfy the mayhem slasher fans crave, but to inspire an internal dialogue about why we want it in the first place.
Halloween Ends Special Features:
- Ending Halloween – Halloween could never truly end without a decisive showdown between Laurie and Michael. Explore the creative team’s approach to crafting the film’s final sequence. (8:27)
- Final Girl – The iconic Jamie Lee Curtis discusses the legacy of Laurie Strode and what playing the character has meant to her. (4:41)
- No Place Like Haddonfield – Filmmakers and cast reveal some of the secret ingredients that make Halloween productions so special and their personal feelings on being a part of such a classic franchise. (7:50)
- A Different Threat – As Haddonfield evolves to a new era, we examine how the evil within has also evolved. (5:43)
- The Visions of Terror – See how various production departments came together to achieve the film’s unique visual style. (5:47)
- Twisted Deaths – An up-close look at some of the gruesome death scenes. (5:02)
- Feature Commentary with co-writer/director David Gordon Green, actors Andi Matichak and Rohan Campbell, co-producer/first assistant director Atilla Salih Yücer, and production assistant Hugo Garza (1:50:48)
- Gag Reel (2:46)
- Six (6) Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:27)
Available for streaming on Peacock October 14th, 2022.
Available on digital November 15th, 2022.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD December 27th, 2022.
For more information, head to the official Halloween Ends website.