In contrast to the general critical response, I was actually very high on Halloween Kills. I thought the decentering of Laurie Strode was a welcome reprieve, and found the focus on Haddonfield’s townspeople (who have been haunted by Michael Myers’s violence for four decades) extremely intriguing. So I was looking forward to the finale of David Gordon Green’s modern trilogy, Halloween Ends, yet also felt somewhat nervous that the film wouldn’t stick the proverbial landing. I had no idea, though, just what an unentertaining mess this new release (in theaters, and streaming on Peacock) would turn out to be.
Unfortunately, the opening credits sequence (jack-o’-lantern focused, in the grand Halloween tradition) is the highlight of the entire movie.
The screenwriters would have the audience believe that Michael (who barely appears in this film) has been hiding out in the sewers of Haddonfield like some wannabe Pennywise for the past four years. After WTF?, the viewer’s next question is why?, but there’s no explanation for Michael’s uncharacteristic behavior other than a need to drive the inane plot of Halloween Ends. Writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride deserve to have Silver Shamrock masks glued to their heads for coming up with the moronic idea of giving the Shape a young psychopathic protégé. All of this is as confusing as it is unconvincing. On the one hand, the film seems committed to demythologizing Michael, presenting him less as a supernatural boogeyman than a wheezing geezer ready for the slasher nursing home. But at the same time, Michael is granted the power of magically passing his evil onto another person, as if transmitting a virus to someone unwise enough to practice social distancing (and who will soon be converted from an anti-masker).
Meanwhile, Haddonfield has degenerated into geographical eyesore (it’s telling that one of the film’s central sets is the town dump) and moral cesspool. The townspeople prove so nasty, so repulsive, they make the typical cast of a Rob Zombie film seem as lovable as Minions. Even Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, who has matured into a mesmerizing beauty) loses the heroine qualities she displayed in the prior two films, coming off as surly and abrasive here. Haddonfield and its inhabitants have grown so ugly, the viewer almost wishes that the town would get burned to the ground, as Allyson and her love interest/Shape-in-training, Corey, discuss. The result is a film in which it is hard to find a character to root for.
The obvious choice would be Jamie Lee Curtis’s perennial final girl, Laurie Strode. But she spends most of the movie either composing her memoir (which, judging from the bits we get to see her write, is destined to be filled with platitudes and vapid psychobabble) or engaging in a burgeoning (and completely uninteresting) romance with retired officer Frank Hawkins. Again, the film appears unsure in its characterizations, as Laurie vacillates between the happy grandmother who at last has put aside her traumatic past, and the psychological “freak show” that Haddonfield unkindly labels her.
Fans might be willing to forgive the film’s innumerable flaws if it delivered on the one thing that people really came to see: a final, climactic face-off between Laurie and Michael. Yet even this promised battle proves a bitter disappointment. There’s no strategy employed, no suspense–just a knock-down, drag-out brawl within the close confines of Laurie’s kitchen. Sadly, the scene has all the sheer brutality of a bout of domestic violence, and allows for negligible catharsis.
As I sat watching Halloween Ends (which, surprisingly, premiered a night early on Peacock), I felt like the victim of an elaborate Halloween prank: no, this monstrosity of a film wasn’t the real one, just a bit of hoaxing misdirection before the release of the actual finale. Epically unappealing, Halloween Ends does a gross disservice to any promise raised by the prior two films, and disgraces the nearly-half-century legacy of the entire Halloween franchise.