Halloween Ends: Review
The wordless menace of Michael Myers goes up against his illusive rival Laurie Strode for one last clash in Halloween Ends.
Indie director David Gordon Green's modern Halloween trilogy continues to garner divisive reactions. Some praise his attempts at confronting the slasher genre's blood-soaked norms with thoughtful meditations on trauma and manifestation of fear as a source of decaying humanity, while others critique the director for adopting a half-hearted balance of scares and social commentary. I enjoyed the director's work on Halloween and Halloween Kills - two films that reinterpret horror trademarks effectively despite some clumsy execution choices.
Green concludes his trilogy with the franchise's most ambitious project to date. I respect the spirited home run swing Ends attempts, with the film sidelining Myers for much of the runtime in favor of showcasing the Haddonfield community's descent into fear-mongering madness. Unfortunately, this overpromised and underdelivered final chapter struggles to satisfy its noble thematic pursuits.
Diehard fans of the Halloween franchise that already felt alienated by this modern trilogy will unquestionably not be converted by Ends. Audiences have hard-wired expectations of the rhythms that the slasher series should hit with each entry - a formula Green ignores with gleeful reckless abandon here.
In a world where remakes and reboots often feel encumbered by the success of their beloved predecessors, Ends at least earns points from me for trying to build upon the franchise's foundation. Viewing Michael Myers not only as a fearsome killer, but also as a source of dread that morphs the Haddonfield community into a cruel populous who haphazardly search for an outlet to voice their emotional baggage at, feels exceedingly relevant to our volatile times. Gordon Green's eye for grander personal and cultural ramifications infuses a new sense of agency into the franchise's well-traveled roots.
I found myself fascinated by Ends for what it attempts, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Green and co-writer Danny McBride bite off more than they can chew in terms of narrative, blending the age-old rivalry between Laurie and Michael with its newfound focus on Corey Cunningham, a Haddonfield local who becomes the victim of the town's vitriol. While both concepts work in a vacuum, the screenplay does not give either arc enough room to breathe. The result is a film that sprints breathlessly toward the finish line without coloring its concepts with proper nuance. Perhaps introducing Cunningham in Halloween Kills would have allowed the character to develop with more naturalism onscreen.
Strictly from a horror perspective, Ends also pales compared to its predecessors. Most of the gruesome kills are designated solely for the third act, and while the setpieces are executed with enough technical poise, there isn't any sequence that feels particularly innovative. It's especially disappointing that the much-anticipated showdown between Laurie and Michael ends with more of an anti-climactic whimper rather than eliciting its intended edge-of-your-seat thrills.
Halloween Ends is a commendable yet unsatisfying conclusion to the Laurie Strode-Michael Myers story.
Halloween Ends is now playing in theaters and on Peacock.