What would Halloween be without another Halloween movie? It’s a moot point, because Halloween Ends marks the latest in a (very) long line of holiday-themed chillers that originated with John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 classic, and the third in the recent trilogy helmed by UNCSA School of Filmmaking graduate David Gordon Green, following 2018’s Halloween and last year’s Halloween Kills. In the overall canon, Halloween Ends is not the best or the worst in the franchise, but it’s a valiant attempt to incorporate some fresh blood (pardon the pun) in a well-worn formula.

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After umpteenth sequels and various “interpretations” (i.e. screw-ups) of the Halloween mythos, Green made a smart decision to bring original creator John Carpenter back into the fold as an executive producer. Another key component, also an executive producer, is leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis, whose screen career was established with the original Halloween -- earning her the moniker of “scream queen” — and continues to bring an authoritative voice to the character of Laurie Strode.

As we rejoin Laurie for yet another potentially (ha!) horrific Halloween in Haddonfield, that once-bucolic burg is rife with residents who express not grief or despair but anger, rage, and vindictiveness. Some blame Laurie for Michael’s repeated rampages, and in the interim Haddonfield has had another Halloween tragedy, in which teenaged babysitter Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell of TV’s The Hardy Boys) was implicated in the unfortunate death of his young charge.

This particular sequence, which kicks off Halloween Ends, is arguably the film’s high point, and certainly gets things off to a roaring start. Like Laurie, Corey is an outcast, tormented by his past and uncertain of his future.

The notion that Michael Myers, billed as “The Shape” (again played by James Jude Courtney), somehow feeds off the anger of Haddonfield, is an interesting one. Since Halloween Kills, he’s been biding his time and cooling his heels in an abandoned sewer. But it’s only a matter of time before his begins his rampage anew, and Corey is the instrument of his destruction. That Corey has tentatively embarked on a relationship with Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, also encoring) only fuels Laurie’s mounting paranoia.

It’s admittedly difficult to find a fresh angle or approach to Halloween, but it’s to the credit of Gordon and fellow screenwriters Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and fellow UNCSA grad Danny McBride that they’ve made an obvious effort to apply something of a novel approach. Some ideas work better than others, others don’t really work at all, but Halloween Ends isn’t lazy.

The narrative could have been streamlined a bit, although Green displays his technical proficiency as the narrative builds toward its inevitable bloodbath. Interestingly, a good number of the victims deserve just what’s coming to them. They’re not innocent bystanders or horny teenagers, but nasty, mean-spirited people. It’s been evident since Halloween that Green has respected themythos and the horror genre as a whole, while also approximating Carpenter’s distinctive style.

Matichak and Campbell are overly mannered at times but not unappealing, and it’s nice seeing Will Patton back as local lawman Frank, who has managed — like Laurie and Allyson — to survive a fair share of violence yet still carries a torch for her. Patton hasn’t much to do, but is a welcome presence nevertheless.

As the title implies, this should be the end of Michael Myers, although we’ve all heard that story before. Nevertheless, Gordon and company have managed to “conclude” the franchise with a modicum of dignity and class. 

 

See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2020, Mark Burger.

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