David Gordon Green just about makes up for 2021's woeful Halloween Kills with a smarter and more character-driven finale
Last year’s Halloween Kills, the middle instalment of this new trilogy from David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, suffered from its “between acts” placement more than many other films in recent memory, a mostly rubbish exercise in treading-water relying entirely on the planned sequel to redeem it. With this grand task ahead of it, Halloween Ends has arrived and, though it doesn’t make up for the time-wasting of its predecessor, it is a solid and, yes, final enough ending to do this hit-and-miss franchise justice.
Though Halloween 2018 and Kills took place across one violent night, Ends jumps forward four years to find a Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who seems to finally be at peace with herself and her Michael Meyers-induced demons, not least of which was the death of her daughter in a weirdly throwaway scene at the end of the last film. Living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), Laurie is trying to seize what she has left of her life now that Michael seems to have disappeared.
We don’t actually meet “The Shape” (James Jude Courtney) for quite a while in Ends and, when he does pop up, he’s not given as much to do as fans might like. Instead, we look at how his evil has infected and poisoned the Illinois town of Haddonfield, its people more bitter and unforgiving, prone to look for monsters at the first sign of trouble. It’s another moral message after Kills’s misfiring attempt at condemning “mob mentality,” and though Green and McBride’s script still isn’t quite up to the task of exploring a Big Issue effectively, it feels far less in the way this time.
A lot of that is down to the fact that we actually get to spend time with the main victim of Haddonfield’s paranoia, a young man called Corey (Rohan Campbell) who has been a pariah since 2019 after a tragic accident killed a kid he was babysitting – a moment that makes for a suitably tense opening set-piece. Pushed to the limits by his subsequent treatment by the town, Corey becomes something of a secret protégé to Michael once he re-emerges, learning how to hunt and kill.
It’s a genuinely interesting thread, not to mention one that gives us some really great kills – the brutal death of a radio DJ is probably the most thrilling and darkly funny murder in this entire trilogy – enough to make you briefly forget that the Laurie/Michael confrontation that should be at the heart of the film is rather sidelined. Less effective is Corey and Allyson’s romantic subplot, which really comes out of nowhere and never works (performances other than Curtis’s are pretty poor across the board).
When this final battle does finally come around, it’s done surprisingly quickly, but that’s not to say it isn’t well-handled. Curtis really gives it her all and Green understands the weight of the moment, all the individual punches, slashes, and strangulations in this war of wills hitting harder at the end than anywhere else in the film. Halloween Ends might prove pretty underwhelming to fans who were expecting more of a streamlined finale to the Laurie/Michael saga, and of course it still doesn’t come close to John Carpenter’s original, even with his music on the soundtrack, but I still found this a satisfying way to close out this chapter of a truly iconic slasher story.
Halloween Ends is released in UK cinemas on 14 October.Where to watch