Halloween Ends Review: A Failed Finale

Not many franchises out there have had histories as tumultuous as the Halloween franchise. The series that kicked off with John Carpenter’s phenomenal low-budget 1978 film was driven to the ground with sequels, reboots, and retcons. In 2018, director David Gordon Green began a new trilogy of films that served as a direct sequel to the first, and things were looking up. But in true Halloween fashion, this series has gone off the deep end with Halloween Ends. This film may be one of the most dreadfully disappointing conclusions to a long-running series ever made.

When I watched Jurassic World: Dominion earlier this year, I did not think a reboot trilogy capper could have so much potential and waste all of it. Halloween Ends outdoes itself. The film opens with a rock-and-roll radio broadcast and then gives you an opening scene that is not what you would expect from a movie in this series. It is a pleasant surprise to see where this opening went, as we have opening titles with the same appearance as those in Halloween III: Season of the Witch. That should tip you off to how different this movie is.

Halloween Ends takes risks. It goes off the rails and makes creative choices you would never expect from a finale. It’s a bold film with the audacity to go above and beyond, but none of its ideas pay off. For one, the marketing for this movie is quite misleading. If you saw the trailers, you may have expected the final showdown between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney). Hell, even if you didn’t see the trailers, that sounds like the perfect finale; a bloodbath in Haddonfield as Michael hunts down the girl he didn’t get to kill 40 years prior.

You’re not getting that here. This is the first movie since Halloween III to put the Shape to the sidelines, making him a benchwarmer in a franchise where he’s the star player. This film is set four years after Halloween and Halloween Kills in a Haddonfield overcome by fear. Michael has vanished, but the fear of the Boogeyman runs rampant through this town. This new trilogy has done an excellent job of exploring the themes of trauma and how fear can take over lives, but the strong themes of Halloween Ends cannot save the miserable storytelling and dissatisfaction of its conclusion.

This movie is not about Michael, nor is it about Laurie. Instead, this movie is about Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a babysitter accused of murdering a child he babysat. The people of Haddonfield have cast him out, and a lot of this movie is about him and his struggles. He strikes up a romantic relationship with Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and somehow, he feels like the protagonist for a while. It is baffling that this series would introduce such a pivotal character this late into the trilogy. It feels like the writers planned the first two movies and then tacked this on at the last minute.

It’s bewildering that the conclusion to a series known for its hero and its villain makes them supporting characters in their own story. Instead, this movie puts all of the focus on a brand-new character who you do not care about. The marketing was deceptively wise in keeping Corey out of the trailers as much as possible, because Halloween Ends barely focuses on the story of Laurie and Michael. It barely even focuses on the story of Haddonfield the way its predecessor did. These ideas are briefly touched upon, but the writers said, “You know what audiences come to a Halloween movie to see the most of? Corey Cunningham!”

Not only is it strange to introduce a character who is never alluded to in any movie that came prior, but the execution of this story is terrible. The romance between Corey and Allyson is highly forced. These two move at lightning speed, going from strangers to runaway lovers in a few days. Unfortunately, they share no chemistry, making everything feels artificially written. In addition, Allyson’s behavior in this movie is inconsistent with her previous portrayals, as her impulsive decisions and strangely antagonistic behavior make her a complicated character to root for.

Much of this movie doesn’t feel like a horror film. This is more of a poorly written drama with a few annoying false jump scares littered throughout. There are seeds of excellent ideas, such as the budding romance between Laurie and Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton). Still, the screenplay’s failure to balance out the character drama with the scares makes this a disjointed experience where you won’t even be sure what you’re watching half the time. The film lacks all the tension that Halloween Kills had by sticking Michael Myers into a sewer for almost the entire movie. You don’t feel fear and danger; you just get very annoyed as characters pop up behind others with loud noises attached.

Somehow, the big finale of the Halloween series features Michael at his lowest. He is at his weakest in a movie where he should be scarier than ever. The film reduces him to a pathetic older man in a mask. Unlike in previous films, he doesn’t strike fear or dread into your heart. He does not stalk people. He stays in one place as another character looms large as the antagonist. The movie also fails to commit to its bolder, riskier ideas by abandoning story threads in the final act, finally giving us the movie we paid to see with 20 minutes left in the film.

The more Corey showed up in this movie, the more I wanted him out. The film could have developed the relationship between Laurie and Hawkins, it could have explored Laurie and Allyson’s relationship further, and it could have explored Michael Myers as a character. However, Michael feels contractually obligated to be in a movie synonymous with him, killing almost nobody when that’s the only thing he’s famous for doing. Additionally, the film does a poor job of resolving storylines, even if it features Curtis in her scream queen element.

This was not the satisfying conclusion it should have been. This series should have stopped at the first one, or even the 2018 Halloween, which would have done a much better job of concluding the story than this film. That film features a much stronger third act, while this movie seems to be halfheartedly going through the motions of what you would want from a Laurie vs. Michael showdown. With the reboots and retcons this series has endured, who’s to say we won’t get Halloween: Reborn another twenty years from now? Hell, they may even go down the anthology route again and make a sequel to Halloween III: Season of the Witch. For a film called Halloween Ends, let’s pray that this time, it’s true.

SCORE: 3/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 3 equates to “Bad.” Due to significant issues, this film feels like a chore to take in.

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