When 1978’s Halloween released, no one expected it to become a major franchise. For director John Carpenter and everyone else involved, it was a low-budget feature about a killer who terrorizes babysitters on Halloween night. Its success turned the little independent picture into a landmark horror film.
In the intervening years, the series struggled to keep a consistent identity. One movie, Michael Myers is the pawn of a cult. In another, he comes from a trashy family and has mommy issues. Then came 2018’s Halloween, which strips things back to basics and sees Jamie Lee Curtis return as Laurie Strode. 2021’s Halloween Kills raised the body count while lampooning some of the series’ core ideas.
With 2022’s Halloween Ends, it closes out the new trilogy and pits Laurie Strode against Michael Myers for the last time. Though Halloween: H20 did the same 24 years earlier, this time, it’s for good. However, this movie packs some tricks into its treats.
Halloween Ends is now playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.
Story – You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman
Ends picks up four years after Halloween Kills. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lives a quiet life and devotes her time to raising her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who works as a nurse. Unbeknownst to either of them, Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) lives in Haddonfield’s sewers. A chance encounter with a young man spurs Michael back to action.
Halloween Ends sounds like yet another Halloween movie. However, it’s clear from the opening title this entry doesn’t tread the same path previous entries have. Halloween Ends explores the idea of evil and how it manifests in others. The film is less about Michael and more about how his presence looms over Haddonfield.
With this being the thirteenth entry, Halloween Ends tries shaking up the formula. There is only so much one can do with Michael Myers beyond the usual slash and stab routine. Halloween Ends attempts to not break the mold, but shape it into something different. The result almost sticks the landing, but slips on its face when it tries delivering a satisfying conclusion.
Characters & Performances – The Man Behind the Mask
Michael Myers takes a backseat for Halloween Ends. The film focuses on Corey (Rohan Campbell), a young man with a troubled past. He’s nice, if a bit awkward, but after a run-in with the fearsome killer, he undergoes a metamorphosis. He comes out of his shell but is slowly corrupted by his own hubris.
Corey’s transformation calls to mind Arnie Cunningham from Stephen King’s Christine. Both are nice if socially inept men who struggle with life problems and bullies at home and elsewhere. Both are gradually turned evil by a malevolent entity. For Arnie, it’s his car Christine. For Corey, it’s Michael.
Switching the killer to someone other than Michael is a risky move, but it works. Rohan Campbell gives a solid performance as a man who sells his soul to the devil, unprepared for the price he paid. His desire to be like Michael drives a wedge between him and Allyson, plus it puts him in Laurie Strode’s sights.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode. In 2018’s Halloween, she was a shell-shocked woman living in isolation and fear. In Halloween Ends, she’s seemingly closed the book on the past and moved on. However, evil never dies.
There’s a yin-yang element to Laurie and Michael’s relationship to Corey. Laurie represents good and wants to save Corey from being consumed by his evil. On the flip side, Michael’s fury energizes Corey to embrace the killer inside him.
For all the goodwill Halloween Ends has going for it, the third act is a sub-par payoff.
Laurie vs. Michael – Round Two
Halloween Ends markets itself as the final showdown between two horror legends. Knowing this, the viewer expects a grand-slam spectacle with some surprises thrown in. The final act is a rushed affair with no surprises. The epic conclusion is instead a tired retread of previous Halloween final fights.
For comparison, Halloween: H20’s finale feels more satisfactory. The audience roots for Laurie to defeat Michael. You get that, plus a little bit extra. Not the case with Halloween Ends. Halloween Ends’ conclusion is the equivalent of being served a well-cooked meal only to get a stale chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
Editing & Pacing – A Descent Into Madness
When it comes to pacing, Halloween Ends takes it time to show Corey’s descent into madness, as well as how the town of Haddonfield has changed because of Myers’ killing sprees. Haddonfield has become a former shell of itself, a town corrupted by Michael Myers’ evil.
This gives Haddonfield more personality and character compared to its Anywhere, USA feel in the previous movies. While the showdown between Myers and Laurie is anti-climatic, the build-up towards his return is great. The bizarre student/master relationship between Corey and Michael is oddly interesting.
Cinematography & Sound – Classic John Carpenter
If there’s one thing the new Halloween movies excel at, it’s their production value. The camerawork is well done and calls back to Dean Cundey’s work on the first three films. The movie relies heavily on stock jump scares, but a couple of scenes manage to build tension.
The music, composed by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies, is superb. It highlights John Carpenter’s skill as both a filmmaker and a musician. A couple of cues even callback to Carpenter’s work on Christine, which further accentuates the ties between both works.
Kills – Gory and Gratuitous
Halloween Ends doesn’t have as high a body count as Halloween Kills, but there is plenty of bloodshed. Heads are stomped, people are stabbed, and in one memorable scene, a loudmouth radio DJ gets cut off the air. The kill count may be smaller, but the deaths are as violent as ever.