Halloween Ends (2022)
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenwriters: Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Rohan Campbell, Jesse C. Boyd
Halloween Ends. Thank the cinema gods that it does.
One year ago, Halloween Kills, the previous instalment in the new cycle of Halloween films, sunk the franchise to almost new lows (2002’s Halloween: Resurrection still marginally held the title). It took everything that Halloween stood for and turned it into a joke, becoming a muddled mess that disrespected its source material, presenting messy themes about evil being a plague. It even had a superhero slow-motion killing bonanza for Michael Myers.
This film is so, so much worse.
A year after the previous film’s storyline, a tragic accident occurs involving the death of a young boy and the babysitter is branded by Haddonfield as a murderer. Three years later, the effects are still felt, and he descends into madness and evil, bringing a slumbering Michael Myers out of hiding, and dragging Alyson (Andi Matichak) into the mix. Only Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) can stop this spread of shapeshifting evil, as the final confrontation looms.
There is no possible way to adequately describe how utterly awful, how impossibly disgusting this film is. But one has to try, and so one shall.
Let’s first mention the good points: Jamie Lee Curtis and Andi Matichak. Done. Let’s move on.
This is not actually a Halloween film, despite the title. It is the concept for a television series, the story of a disturbed individual taking up the mantle of a former serial killer and slowly assuming their identity as a representation of how a population suffering from collective grief and hysteria can create a cultural boogeyman, whereupon that boogeyman will eventually assume the mantle. If you crossed the Saw films and Ursula Le Guin’s short story “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas” you’d have this concept, in theory at least. When the producers found the script (probably rotting in a trunk where it should have been left), they retrofitted it to the franchise, threw in Laurie and Myers, carried over some of the whole ‘nature of evil’ chemical waste from Kills, and threw millions of dollars at it. For those at the back: this is not a Halloween film. It does not have the feel, nor the style, nor the grace, nor the pacing, nor the tone, nor the enthusiasm, of even the lesser sequels from the 1990s.
What it does have, is a good 30-40 minutes of pointless, lifeless, dull build up to a concept already explored in passing in Halloween 2018; that of evil passing from one individual to another. To do this, we have to bring back Myers, who was rotting in a kind of IT sewer underground dungeon guarded by a homeless man who protected him. Possibly. It doesn’t give any reason why he would need guarding, or why he decided to vanish for no reason at all after the final moments of the previous film (when he was a serial killer god), the fear of the town resurrecting him. Somehow. Or, for that matter, why most of the time he assumes his actual state of a man in his late sixties, blundering around and being distinctly aged and un-Myers-like. Someone thought this was a good idea, and it might be for a novel series. Not for a Halloween movie.
Despite this abundance of stupidity, Ends seems to think we are looking for more time following a storyline involving Alyson and her love life, and the descent into darkness of people near her. It preaches over and over again in a blunt fashion the same re-hashed ideas from a thousand better texts, spouting its dull and tired rhetoric through the dialogue of the original film in an attempt to get us to like it because of references. We are, however, in the era of the Easter egg (when “10 things you missed in the trailer for Film X” is one of the main marketing ploys for a film), so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s amusing that Halloween Ends only ever seems to really reference and hark back to the original, and never any of the other films in any way. All its references are old, done in, and buried.
The rest of any kind of sense is dragged through the dirt with the ever-growing recognition that the film thinks we are all stupid. It thinks that, by playing up ‘thematic ideas’ and ‘social commentary’ more than the actual horror (which is, after all, what we came for), by trying to be ‘elevated horror’, we’ll all appreciate it. Instead, one laughs at jump scares that aren’t intended to be cheap, tries not to fall asleep, and attempts to hold back from hurling insults at the screen out of pure respect for other cinema goers. When remembering what a refreshing back-to-basics, solid hitter the 2018 film was, one almost gives into the despair Halloween Ends is warning against.
There’s a constant truism that nobody actually listens to or regards a film critic. Nobody actually pays attention to them, and anyone will appreciate that the films that are praised by critics get seen by nobody, and the most awful things that critics beg audiences not to see are the ones the masses flock to. Despite this, hope remains, and so this following plea goes out…
Do not see Halloween Ends. Do not give it exposure. Let it remain part of Blumhouse’s strategy which has worked so well for it so far (that one in three films it puts out is good and the others should have been burned in the house that went up in the 2018 film), and let it be nothing else. Save your money. Save cinema. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll let Michael Myers sleep a little longer, and only resurrect him when there is a script that can honour him again.