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‘Halloween Ends’ is a grim farewell to a horror franchise

‘Halloween Ends’ marks David Gordon Green’s farewell to a franchise that shows that evil doesn’t really end

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Jamie Lee Curtis arrives at the world premiere of “Halloween Ends” at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Jamie Lee Curtis arrives at the world premiere of “Halloween Ends,” Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Jordan Strauss, Invision via Associated Press

When a horror movie series has been going on long enough, the filmmakers have to answer the question: Why is this killer still running around?

Wanting the killer to appear in multiple movies, many filmmakers have dealt with this conundrum through giving the killer supernatural powers, either from the offset such as in the case of Freddy Krueger, Chucky or Candyman, or revealing them over time such as with Jason Voorhees.

The latter approach also applies to Michael Myers. In John Carpenter’s original classic “Halloween,” the escaped killer Michael Myers has something of a supernatural touch. Throughout the movie he is referred to as “the boogeyman,” and described by his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis as “pure evil.” He is able to appear and disappear faster than a normal human, has super strength and, at the very end, survives six bullet wounds straight to the chest.

Michael Myers as metaphor

“Halloween Ends,” the conclusion to David Gordon Green’s reboot trilogy, brings Myer’s supernatural qualities to the forefront. While other entries in the franchise have referred to Michael Myers as an embodiment of evil, that concept is central to Green’s movie. More than the actual physical serial killer, “Halloween Ends” is about the idea of Michael Myers.

Owing more of a debt to Stephen King than Carpenter, “Halloween Ends” views Myers as a physical manifestation of the evil that lurks underneath Haddonfield, Illinois, just as Pennywise the Clown was for Derry, Maine, in King’s “IT.” Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) — the consummate survivor of the masked killer’s attacks — describes evil as an “infection” and the movie explores the different ways it can spread. Michael Myers, as conceptualized by Green, is a metaphor for pain, grief, anger, tragedy and trauma. He’s the boogeyman.

“Halloween Ends” begins as the series started, with a babysitter on Halloween night. Four years after the killing spree that kicked off Green’s trilogy and forty years after the one that turned Michael Myers into an icon, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell, a Michael Rooker look-alike) arrives for a routine babysitting job that turns to tragedy with the accidental death of the young ward. After a stint in prison for aggravated manslaughter, Corey finds himself unable to move on and the town of Haddonfield won’t let him either.

At the same time, Laurie Strode is also attempting to move on. She has moved into the heart of Haddonfield with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), now a nurse, is writing a memoir about her experiences and flirting with now-retired deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton).

Through Curtis’ loose and comfortable performance we see Laurie as the teenager that she wasn’t able to be. Laurie and Corey cross paths, and recognizing a fellow wounded outcast, she attempts to take him under her wing. A dark romance develops between Corey and Allyson as he struggles with whether to give into his killer tendencies — tendencies that only intensify after a freak run-in with Michael Myers in the Haddonfield sewer system.

Green’s approach to the material owes little to the lean, indie vibe of Carpenter’s original. Instead, it more clearly recalls the self-flagellating, existential fear of Stephen King’s work like “Christine,” “IT” or “The Dark Half” and the neon-dripped, shoegaze-y aesthetic of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark” and Joel Schumacher’s “The Lost Boys.” It includes visual references to Wong-Kar Wai’s “Fallen Angels” and David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” something I have never before seen in a slasher film.

Doesn’t feel like a ‘Halloween’ movie

The pacing is slower than one usually finds in any slasher movie; rather melancholy and funereal. Someone going to the movie theater wanting to watch Michael Myers kill teenagers is going to be sorely disappointed.

In fact, the movie sidelines Michael Myers to such an extent that any reference to him feels contractually obligated. The heart of “Halloween Ends” is with the characters of Corey, Laurie and Allyson and in their interactions, leading to rather curious, uneven results. The character-first approach is commendable, but the writing just isn’t there, offering platitudes in favor of psychology and archetypes in place of character.

Campbell gets lost in the mire; never able to adequately explain Corey’s psychology to the audience and conveys menace through a constipated look. The only one who is able to rise above is Curtis, playing Laurie Strode with command and gravitas, giving the character a powerful send-off.

Yet, for all of the messiness and untrodden paths, there’s a power to the way that “Halloween Ends” commits to its ideas. Evil as a virus is conceptually compelling, if not in execution. I expect that this movie will play better when divorced from the expectations of a Laurie vs. Michael showdown and be reappraised in ten years or so. It will certainly not be the last we see of Michael Myers. Because if there is one thing that “Halloween Ends” teaches us, it is that evil doesn’t end, it just changes shape.

What is ‘Halloween Ends’ rated?

The movie is rated R for bloody violence, horror and gore, language throughout and some sexual references. It’s not family friendly — there is graphic, disturbing violence and rough language. According to Common Sense Media, the film is appropriate for ages 17 and up.