Trilogies were a mistake. That’s one of the lessons I’ve taken away from Halloween Ends, one of the dullest, most pointless and inessential horror franchise films I’ve seen in ages. What started with such promise and vigor in 2018’s Halloween got dragged into a mess of confusing storylines and worthless side characters in 2021’s Halloween Kills, only to die with indignity in 2022. RIP.
Set four years after Kills, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has settled into a new home with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Michael Myers hasn’t been seen in that entire time, but the echoes of his presence still ring through the town. Right around the time when a troubled young man named Corey (Rohan Campbell) enters Laurie and Allyson’s lives, people start getting murdered, and it appears that Mike Myers might be back again. Once more. Yadda yadda yadda.
Let me just say this right away to let you know what the tone of this review will be and what I really think: Halloween Ends is a cross between sloppy fan fiction and a cheap soap opera found on an obscure streaming service in the bowels of Roku’s channel list. How’s that for a pull quote? Yes, children, I will be reading this film to filth because it’s been a while since I was so bored and frustrated with a movie that didn’t have the word Jurassic in its title.
One of the biggest problems with Halloween Kills was how it seemed to sideline Laurie and her history with Michael. It even strongly suggested that there was no real connection between them, even though that had been the entire point of the movie that had come before it. Here, Michael is so sidelined that he doesn’t even show up until 56 minutes in. (Technically it’s 40 minutes, but he doesn’t really do anything of note until literally the film’s half-way point.)
What happens in the almost-hour before it? A poorly written drama about Corey and his budding relationship with Allyson, while Laurie writes her memoirs and occasionally looks concerned in the background. A budding relationship, that I would like to point out has next to zero chemistry and even less of a reason to exist. It’s not necessarily due to the performances of the actors involved, although their only sort-of compatible energies do factor into it. No, it’s almost entirely down to the godawful script that gives off so much self-consciously edgy teen drama vibes that I had to research the ages of the writing team involved. Because four people wrote this. FOUR.
Here’s the thing: Corey is a haunted sad boy that’s misunderstood by the miserable citizens of Haddonfield (I’ll get to them in a moment). A few years prior to the opening of the movie, we see in a dragged-out prologue that when Corey was babysitting, he accidentally pushed the kid to his death. So even though he’s innocent, he’s been labeled the “psycho babysitter” by the town and used as everyone’s punching bag ever since. It’s clear from early on that the film wants to use Corey to demonstrate how people respond to and are shaped by such abuse, but the script can’t ever decide if it wants to show Corey as a victim or as a genuine creep. The lack of distinct characterization prevents any narrative trajectory from taking off and makes Corey a bit of cipher, which would be fine if a huge chunk of the film didn’t revolve specifically around him. Rohan Campbell tries as best he can, but making Corey an interesting or even likable character is far outside his abilities.
Very little in this film makes any kind of logical sense. There’s almost no connective tissue, no strong narrative lines tying things together, and absolutely no sense of flow or consistency. Characters react to things as if they read ahead in the script, and a large portion of the plot resolves entirely on coincidence and miscommunication to the point where nearly everyone but Laurie comes off as rock stupid. Although to be fair, Laurie does have moments in the film where her brain is as misfired as everyone else’s.
And speaking of rock stupid, let’s get back to those citizens of Haddonfield. They are, to put it bluntly, nearly to a person some of the most unpleasant a-holes you’re ever going to meet. Yes, even the kid that Corey accidentally killed. Granted, everyone’s dealt with a lot of trauma, but even Halloween Kills did a better job of exploring how such constant fear and uncertainty could turn a community toxic. In that film, the town was like a tinderbox ready to erupt at the slightest hint of a flame, but here they’ve decided as a collective to turn their ire on Laurie. You see, most people now blame her for Michael’s rampages, accusing her of “teasing” and encouraging him. Seriously. WTF, Writing Team?
Let’s just say that when some of these people end up on the chopping block, it’s seriously a “he had it coming” kind of thing. Even then, there’s no satisfaction in seeing any of these remarkably unpleasant people perish. The kills here are gross and completely devoid of artistry. It’s just basic, blunt brutality with no poetry or style; a Baby’s First Murder Spree Kit. Occasionally, it becomes tasteless enough to accidentally dip its toes into black comedy, but edgelords never set out trying to be funny. The violence doesn’t elicit gasps or jumps as much as a constant stream of obscenities and “Really?”
So is there anything good about this film? Well, it’s always nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis, even when she doesn’t seem to thrilled to be there. Her best acting was in the featurettes hyping up the film, but we still love her. Andi Matichak also tries her best, but the vibrant Final Girl of the first film has been slowly diluted over the course of the trilogy. All the same, Matichak doesn’t sleep on the job and tries to give Allyson’s story the emotion it needs despite the script getting in her way.
Plus, you know, any score that includes John Carpenter’s creative input is worth the time. Is it his best? Oh, far from it. But it does help some of the most tedious and pointless parts of the film go down just a little easier. He has great partners in his son Cody and frequent collaborator Daniel Davies. The score is one of the few things that makes this feel like a genuine Halloween movie and not a cheap knock-off that had a dollar-store Mike Myers mask forced on it by a clumsy studio executive. (But just barely.)
Halloween Ends should not exist. This new trilogy should not exist. We should have had one film and called it done instead of dragging this storyline out until it became the massive hot mess we see before us. You know in the trailers how it keeps hyping up the showdown between Michael and Laurie? That’s the last 10 minutes of this film, and well before that I was screaming at the screen for things to end. The franchise deserves better this, and so do we.
FBOTU Score: 3 out of 10 / D
Halloween Ends can be streamed exclusively on Peacock Premium.