‘Halloween Ends’ Review
This review discusses a handful of plot points from Halloween Ends, all of them from the first 40 minutes or so of the picture. Spoilers, they have been warned.
As I exited my screening of Halloween Ends, I was struck by the sheer number of, frankly, bizarre creative choices made by the four-man writing team of Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green (who also directed). It is, in all honestly, unclear to me at this early of a remove whether or not they were “good” or “bad” creative choices; I’m simply impressed by the quantity of them.
The aggressiveness begins early, when we see how Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) became the town pariah when the kid he was babysitting met a gruesome end. Specifically when we see how, the camera staying on the ground floor of a mansion, letting us hear the action, and then throwing visceral violence right into our, and the kid’s parents’, faces. It’s not a jump scare, exactly, so much as a moment of shockingly explicit brutality—the kind man can’t deliver, but fate will sometimes spring on the unsuspecting.
Was Corey fated to become a disciple of Michael Myers? Was he driven to it by the cruelty of the town that has been traumatized so badly from the series of senseless murders authored by Myers that they are constantly in search of a new bogeyman? There are among the questions the film asks, literally, as the questions are spoken aloud as excerpts from a book being written by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as part of her effort to overcome the traumas in her life. She lives with granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), whose parents were murdered by Myers in the previous two films in the series, Halloween (2018)* and Halloween Kills.
Halloween Ends never wants you to feel that this is yet another derivative sequel, one that’s just killing time until the next October 31 rolls around. That Myers isn’t the villain—or, at least, isn’t the only villain—is the film’s most radical departure from expectations. Corey stumbles onto Myers early and is inspired by him to begin killing his, and later Allyson’s, enemies. Except Corey can’t always get the job done, so Myers has to shadow him around, filling in some of the murder gaps.
The whole endeavor is just kind of confused. It would be one thing if Myers straight-up infected Corey with his evil and turned him into a killing machine, Corey in turn infecting Allyson and turning her against Laurie. Or if Myers were, say, following Corey around like a Golem, one he used to kill his tormentors in town. But having them trade off kills is the worst of all worlds, one that not only muddies the central metaphor but also feels kind of, well, silly.
And yet, silly or no, I can’t help but admire the filmmakers for just going for it. There’s also a compelling darkness to the shots of Corey and Allyson cruising down the street on his motorcycle, his smile coming to life even as his eyes blacken; her wrapping her arms around him and feeling safe for the first time since her parents were murdered. You can understand why they might find each other so compelling after years spent as the town’s nutjob and charity case.
All three of these movies have tried to say something about the nature of fear, about the danger of letting yourself become consumed by it. Fine; we all love a good metaphor. But it has always struck me as slightly odd, since the actual existence of Michael Myers kind of negates the power of that metaphor or the idea of fear itself being the only thing we have to fear. Sure, unfocused mobs are bad, but not as bad as the raving lunatic murderer who cannot be killed and who kills and kills again. Yes, fear is a cancer that infects a community, but there’s good reason to fear the raving lunatic murderer who cannot be killed and who kills again and again. You take my point.
Halloween Ends is a very strange movie, one that’s almost certainly going to alienate audiences looking for a straight-up slasher flick—and one that’s almost equally certain to find a small but doggedly loyal group of defenders as the years pass. It might be an unholy mess of a movie, but at least it’s an interesting one.
*Not to be confused with Halloween (1978), to which Halloween (2018) is a direct sequel. Nor should it be confused with Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot, Halloween. Don’t even think about bringing Halloweenie into this.