« Halloween Ends » will likely satisfy fans. Don’t trust this title
With Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, Will Patton and Kyle Richards. Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Paul Brad Logan and Chris Bernier. Directed by David Gordon Green. Opens Friday everywhere (with previews on Thursday). 111 minutes. 14A
If we’ve learned anything in 44 years of the hellish « Halloween » horror franchise, it’s to never trust anyone, let alone a mob of club-swinging vigilantes.
The crowd chants « Evil dies tonight! » was destined to disappoint us last year in « Halloween Kills, » as the aggrieved residents of Haddonfield, Illinois unsuccessfully pursued street justice for psychotic slasher Michael Myers, the Houdini of the Infernals.
This film was also destined to let us down, being a numbing waste of time in which the masked maniac laboriously increased his body count while his arch nemesis, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), turned his screams around, so to speak, waiting for a chance to show how much she dislikes Mike.
Now comes « Halloween Ends, » which finally settles the matter…or maybe not. No spoilers here, but it doesn’t matter how you view the outcome of the 13th installment of this rage-retreat-repeat ritual. If the Hollywood powers want another « Halloween » movie, they’ll find a way to make one, just like they’ve found ways to resurrect supposedly dead characters in previous chapters.
This may well be, however, the last batting series for director/co-writer David Gordon Green, who revived and extended John Carpenter’s original 1978 script « Halloween » in 2018. « Halloween Ends » caps off a trilogy of terror for Green and he swore to himself to move on. The same goes for Curtis (who has now played seven times with Laurie), although it would be wise to check if she and Green have their fingers crossed behind their backs.
« Halloween Ends » shows there’s still spice to a pumpkin tale that’s been ground to a pulp. It explores the notion of evil as disease, which is an improvement over aimless carnage. It’s not the deepest of thoughts, and the illogical storyline is loaded with cliches, but damn it, at least we have a story!
Set four years after the bloodshed of « Halloween Kills », the film finds a grieving Laurie living in the suburb of Haddonfield with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). They both try to start their lives over after enduring the trauma of confronting Myers: Laurie writes her memoirs and Allyson pursues a career in nursing.
Judging by excerpts Laurie reads aloud about the relentless abuser she calls « my monster, » her prose about the scarlet bloodshed is written in purple ink. Along with her physical scars, she still struggles with PTSD, alcoholism, and a desire for revenge.
Myers (James Jude Courtney) has been MIA since escaping the murderous mob four years ago. No one believes he’s really gone, of course, let alone Laurie. Nonetheless, she’s determined to live her life without fear, which leaves her open to the idea of a possible romance with Officer Frank Hawkins (Will Patton), another victim of Haddonfield’s endless reign of terror.
The « Halloween » routine changes abruptly when Laurie takes pity on Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man accused of killing a boy he was babysitting. She introduces Corey to Allyson, who can see the kind soul in the broken shell of the man ostracized by the rest of town.
Speaking of ostracism, where’s Myers, aka « The Shape » aka « The Boogeyman »? He hides as usual, this time in a sewer, where he looks even sadder and gray than before, causing him to almost disappear into the steel and concrete of his surroundings.
It takes a while for Myers to shift into attack mode and for the inevitable showdown with Laurie to occur. The film focuses on Corey’s story, which is the antithesis of a romantic comedy between boys and girls, as it violently demonstrates how dark urges, once acted upon, can spread like the most virulent of contagious. Green makes the gloom all the more tangible with intense close-ups and spooky jumps and a soundtrack laced with hard rock and punk nihilism.
It’s a risky move on the part of Green and his co-writers to divert our attention from the main « Halloween » fighters. It’s smart, though, and from the repeated applause I heard at a public preview, it’s likely to appeal to fans of the franchise.
« Halloween Ends » provides catharsis, one way or another. But remember the hard lesson of these many years: it’s never really over, even when you say it is.
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