Not the mystical voodoo the last film suggested, but an exploration of The Shape nonetheless.
Four years have passed since Haddonfield’s attempt and failure to lynch the infamous Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), and the masked slasher has vanished once again. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has stepped out of the shadows: living in town, working on a memoir, and enjoying life living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). A darkness still hangs over Haddonfield, and the townsfolk seem driven to seek out a new boogeyman to demonize whenever wickedness occurs. Its newest target is Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a shy young man accused and acquitted of murdering the child he was babysitting, but bullies don’t go unnoticed by a survivor like Laurie Strode… or remain ignored.
Director David Gordon Green returns to complete his Blumhouse trilogy following Halloween 2018 and Halloween Kills, this time promising the final encounter between Michael and Laurie. The trailers haven’t looked particularly interesting, keeping plot details to a minimum, but after the supernaturally suggested nature of Myers at the end of Halloween Kills, shouldn’t someone be calling The Winchesters from “Supernatural” or maybe the Ghostbusters? After all, Halloween fans know The Shape isn’t just a man but a malevolent force, and this set of sequels has been yet another alternate timeline where mysticism has yet to be introduced even if heavily suggested. What will it take to end Michael Myers once and for all… until the next reboot, that is?
As if earlier incarnations of “The Final Halloween Film” weren’t divisive enough already, Halloween Ends could have been subtitled “The Eyes of Michael Myers.” As previously hinted at the end of Kills, there’s a shadow hanging over Haddonfield that’s more spiritual than mystical, and it won’t be a popular choice for some franchise fans. It redefines the very nature of The Shape by way of Falling Down, lessening Michael Myers as unique; it isn’t the abyss that stares back but a ground-down soul one slight from snapping. The advantage is a character-driven piece that’s interesting as a stand-alone offering, but for many, the effect is pushing a cart full of groceries up to the checkout line only to discover they have to checkout themselves.
What viewers do get is Rohan Campbell doing his best “American Horror Story” Evan Peters impression, and the lion’s share of the new film informs his character Corey Cunningham. After the initial confusion as to why so much time is being spent on Corey, it becomes clear what his role is once you spend a few days in his shoes. This is emphasized by a montage of Will Patton’s Officer Hawkins showcasing deaths that have nothing to do with The Shape, a parable about people losing hope and taking no responsibility for their own actions; even children aren’t immune, which may be the most surprising turn the film takes. This leads Laurie down a redemption arc to save Corey and in turn herself, and it’s here where Curtis really shines. The denouement is satisfying, even if what precedes it isn’t what viewers were expecting.
Blumhouse could have gone the supernatural route and done all the things that have been done before, but they instead attempted to humanize the legend, falling just shy of a crowd chanting “I am Michael Myers!” and that’s a hell of a swing for the fences. Unfortunately, the truth won’t be lost on those paying close attention: if you swapped the ending of Kills for the one in Ends, viewers probably wouldn’t notice an entire film missing, leaving the gnawing feeling there’s no actual reason for this film to exist except to round out a trilogy, and that’s the hardest pill to swallow.
Halloween Ends is rated R for bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, and watch that first step, kid… it’s a doozy.
Three skull recommendation out of four