Five years after the events of Halloween Kills, Laurie Strode has bought a house in town where she lives with her granddaughter Allyson and spends her days finishing her memoir, hoping it will help others struggling to overcome trauma. But the town holds grudges. Many residents blame her for Michael Myers’s murderous rampage and since his disappearance, have received no closure. A chance encounter with Corey, a young man enduring another of the town’s grudges, leads Laurie to introduce him to Allyson. Corey and Allyson hit it off, but as Corey’s behavior grows darker and more erratic, Laurie senses a familiar presence, leading to a final showdown with Michael.
An interesting, albeit flawed, franchise entry. It tries something new, more in line with director David Gordon Green’s comfort zone of portraying young people struggling in a depressed small southern town, as seen in his debut, George Washington. But it remains shackled to the Halloween franchise and must shoehorn in the inevitable confrontation between Michael and Laurie, despite regulating Michael to a tertiary character.
It also makes a crucial misstep in compressing Corey’s story. Better to introduce him in the first film, and endear him to the audience. Then, in the second film, shock us with his misfortune and the town’s wrath, leading us to view him as tragic at this film’s start. This would render his descent into darkness more haunting and it help sell Allyson falling for him. As is, he fails to endear himself before his misfortune, and afterwards comes across as self-absorbed and petulant. He wanders into traffic, bumps into everything, and storms off at the slightest conflict.
A chance encounter with a weak and wounded Michael in the town’s sewers changes Corey. It’s unclear if Michael recognizes and triggers something already present inside Corey, or somehow transfers his murderous spirit. Regardless, after this meeting, Corey takes on Michael’s mannerisms, becoming more aggressive and assertive. Now this Corey we can get behind, as exemplified by a terrific scene where Corey stares down Allyson’s ex, a town cop who harasses her at the local diner.
Allyson seems oblivious to these changes, but Laurie recognizes Corey’s dead eyes and starts to investigate. This is the Laurie I suspect fans wanted in the prior films—vigilant, but not paranoid. Her digging affords us a glimpse of Corey’s horrific home life and his dominating mother. A dynamic more reminiscent of Rob Zombie’s Halloween than John Carpenter’s.
Laurie’s suspicion drives a wedge between her and Allyson, who agrees to leave town with Corey. But before they can go, Corey returns to Myers, beats him and takes his mask, then sets out on a murderous rampage, culminating with an attempt on Laurie’s life. But of course, this isn’t Laurie’s first rodeo. The film packs one last surprise before the predictable ending.
Disappointing, but not without its moments. In a nice touch, Corey’s chief tormentors are from the local high school marching band. Green coaxes cruel yet believable performances from the young actors and allows for an illicit thrill when Corey strikes back. That said, one bully dies off screen, which, after the last entry’s brutality, disappoints.
And it’s nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie return to normality after the alcoholic survivalist she played in the prior films. So nice that we overlook the logic in her spending years on high alert when Michael was locked up, only to relax now that he’s missing after murdering far more people than he did during his original rampage—including her own daughter.
This raises a nagging suspicion: I don’t think Green and his writing partner, Danny McBride, had a story. They may have had an idea and a pitch, but not a mapped out narrative comprising multiple arcs. This would explain Laurie’s uneven characterization and Corey’s delayed introduction. Granted, Green and McBride only intended two movies, not three, but, at best, Halloween Ends feels like an unrelated horror film grafted onto the Halloween story, not a planned conclusion. Unfortunately, the folks most likely to enjoy it may have already abandoned the franchise.