|Synopsis||The citizens of Haddonfield try to move on from the events in Halloween Kills and a subsequent tragedy, although Michael’s presence can still be felt around town.|
|Length||1 hour, 51 minutes|
|Release Date||October 14, 2022|
|Distribution||Universal Pictures (theatrical), Peacock (VOD)|
|Directing||David Gordon Green|
|Writing||David Gordon Green, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride|
|Composition||Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel A. Davies|
|Starring||Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Rohan Campbell|
Halloween (1978), like many financially successful movies, sparked a number of sequels and reboots, eventually running itself into the ground once the well of original ideas started to dry up. After a long break from this genre-defining slasher franchise, out came 2018’s annoyingly titled Halloween which was a remarkable return to form. If the original film was the inciting incident, then that film was Laurie’s story, and it did well to explore her character whilst offering audiences some cathartic and emotional returns. The follow up film, Halloween Kills, was then considered Michael’s film, as it mostly followed his journey as he infamously went on a killing spree throughout the town. Halloween Ends is the last of this new trilogy (even though it’s a quadrilogy as the original film is included in the narrative). Anticipation amongst fans has been immense given it’s suspected to be the final major showdown between Laurie and Michael, with no one really knowing how things may conclude in regards to who lives or dies.
Or at least that’s what everyone was led to believe…
Violence/Scary Images: Halloween Ends is a horror film that is part of a major slasher franchise, therefore it aims to terrify its audience through violent and scary acts. Multiple characters are stabbed or dispatched through blunt trauma or horrific accidents. Sometimes they are mutilated on screen. Surprisingly it would only be considered medium on gore in comparison with others in the genre. Also includes gun violence, assault, severe bullying, and moments depicting suicidality.
Language/Crude Humor: It utters most of the major swear words (sometimes repeatedly) at some point in the story, and God and Jesus’ names are used in vain.
Drug/Alcohol References: Teens trying to get adults to buy them alcohol is a major scene in the film. Alcoholic drinks are consumed by adults socially at a party, and one character drinks heavily at home.
Sexual Content: No nudity. Sexual intercourse is implied between an unmarried couple. Another are interrupted before the act begins. The topic of sex is discussed. A character views pornographic magazines although the audience doesn’t see any nudity.
Spiritual Content: The film takes a deep dive into analyzing the nature of evil; whether horrid events can beget more hate and horrific acts, as though it’s a toxic social contagion.
Other Negative Content: An inappropriate workplace relationship takes place. There is a heavy mob mentality shown amongst the townsfolk, where forgiveness is absent and constant persecution is displayed.
Positive Content: It’s a film that studies the aftermath of a town that experienced a horrific event, and how the citizens struggle to move on from the reputation and trauma. While the film focusses more on the negative outcomes, there is one character that is taking a healthier approach and being grateful for the positives in life.
Here at Geeks Under Grace, we try to keep our reviews as spoiler free as possible, only speaking about things that have already been revealed through press releases and in the trailers, or logical progressions from what is already shown. Unfortunately in the case of Halloween Ends its marketing strategy needs to be critiqued, and in doing so, some unknown information will need to be revealed. So if you wish to go into this film completely blind (which I actually don’t recommend for this particular film as I feel it will be more beneficial to your viewing experience with your expectations realigned and managed) then you will sadly need to stop reading here.
This is because the movie is completely different to what the trailer suggests.
Even IMDB’s plot synopsis is completely off.
Yet I’m not angry. In fact, I completely understand why they made this decision. If the promotional material properly advertised the actual content of the movie, then sadly no one would have been excited or keen for this film. They took a massive risk in regard to the narrative’s direction, and it’s the film the franchise needed, not necessarily what fans wanted.
Sometimes a fandom thinks they know what they want or what would be best, but in reality from a filmmaking standpoint, it’s not actually the strongest choice. The latest Star Wars trilogy comes to mind, where The Last Jedi went out on a limb and did something different and was blasted for it, yet when The Rise of Skywalker delivered more on audience’s expectations, suddenly it became obvious why acquiescing to the fandom’s desires may not always be the greatest idea. Looking back now, The Last Jedi has aged better because it was bold and had a more mature sense of self-identity.
All this is to say that Halloween Ends is The Last Jedi of the Halloween franchise. It goes off on a completely different tangent, is tonally ajar from all the others that preceded it, it takes risks (some pay off), it’s thematically explorative, but it’s also the film you’re least likely to have as your “go-to” when you have that urge to watch something within the franchise.
The opening sequence perfectly sets up the idea that this film will not deliver what you expect. It’s rare for a slasher or for any franchise this old to still hold some surprises, so one must at least congratulate the film on this front. After a strong beginning, the film can then be best described as a drama with horror elements which slowly warms into the brand of story that we’re used to seeing from this series. It’s about Michael but not actually about Michael. He’s very much the bogeyman that haunts the psyche of the residents in Haddonfield, though his more literal presence is only seen in the back half of the film, causing many fans to feel like this iconic villain was sidelined in his own movie.
What fans really wanted to see was a final epic showdown between Michael and Laurie. This still occurs, but it’s not the main focus of the plot, and it only takes up a mere fraction of the film’s runtime unlike what the trailer suggests. In hindsight, this is probably a good thing. If Halloween Ends was the film the trailers advertised, then it would be ultimately criticized for being a rehash of 2018’s Halloween. Such a film already exists. Halloween (2018) already scratched that itch and did it well. Likewise some fans are into analyzing Michael’s kills and wanting to see high body counts. Yet again, that movie already exists. That scratch was itched in Halloween Kills.
Part of the problem is that Halloween Ends doesn’t scratch the most obvious itch—it doesn’t tackle an urge in the fandom. The other two films did it so well. It was incredibly satisfying to see Laurie go Rambo on Michael in 2018’s Halloween to the extent that one begins to wonder who is the greater psychopath. It was interesting to see Michael completely unleashed and wreak havoc in the suburbs in Halloween Kills, causing the residents retaliate as a fed-up mob of hatred and violence. Those were great “what if” scenarios that were put to screen, setting up the expectation that Halloween Ends would follow suit. When it didn’t, as it chose to explore a completely different direction, it’s difficult to rein in one’s disparate world of thought and quickly realign it with the intended goal of the narrative. After reading other reviews it seems some people still held onto their original expectations which grossly altered their interpretation of the plot, leaving the cinema with wild theories which should only belong in the schlockiest of horror films.
Indeed, it’s easy to wonder why on earth they decided to head in the direction they did, and I personally think the best answer is to step back and look the thematic spine of this trilogy as a whole. These films may look like wildly different entities, but they all try to explore the different aspects of evil: the festering destructiveness of revenge, the miscarriage of justice in mob rule, and in Halloween Ends, the self-fulfilling prophecies that come about due to fearful, hate-filled, and misguided persecution. All of them link back to the events in 1978’s Halloween, where Michael Myers’ evil act left a scar so deep on an innocent community that generations later it’s still trying to heal from it, toying with the idea there’s a contagious element to the nature of evil, that it never truly dies, rather it mutates and carries on in another form. It’s an assessment on collective trauma and the need to find some way to address it in order to properly heal.
If Halloween Ends does tackle an often-pondered aspect of the franchise, then it’s to do with the topic of succession. The Halloween series has an obvious problem in this area. Freddy and Jason are effectively supernatural and immortal beings, so future films with them are secure, whilst a different killer dons the Ghostface mask in every Scream movie, making those movies easy to continue as well. The Halloween franchise loves to grapple with the question as to whether or not Michael is just a man or is the embodiment of evil itself, and Halloween Ends is no exception, once again taking the route of a certain little taco-loving girl and saying “why not both?” Whilst I adore the symbolism this choice can bring, the problem is that all men must die. If Laurie’s now old, then Michael must be really old, and it’s getting harder and harder to not break the audience’s suspension of disbelief when he still manages to overpower muscle-clad men a third his age. Halloween Ends does touch upon this issue, which once again is needed, but not necessarily what fans wish to see.
For a slasher, Halloween Ends is a surprisingly rich film with its themes. It’s interesting to compare it to the most recent Scream entry; two long-time franchises of an aging subgenre that are needing to find ways to stay relevant in cinema. Scream cheekily mocked the current trend of elevated horror, understood its roots, and firmly re-established itself as a slasher. Meanwhile Halloween Ends is a slasher that tries its hand at becoming elevated horror. If you’re willing to take the dive, this film can be deep, much deeper than most. It’s purposefully not catering to the gore hounds, the teens wanting jolts from jump scares, or the horror geeks that are keen to judge the kills and tally the body count stats (it does a little, but it’s not the defining feature of this film).
Yet I was thrown for a loop—this is the type of horror that I love most, and yet I found myself itching in my seat, waiting impatiently for Michael to come and just start killing people. As a Christian, after the film I needed to take some time away to reassess my heart and to question whether I was consuming these films from the right place. It took a few days for me to pinpoint the problem, which ultimately was a side effect from Halloween Ends relying on the awful tactic of the bait and switch. While it made sense to dangle the carrot of the film’s compelling final act to get patrons into the cinema, the false promises take a toll on the audience. What movie you select to see is based on one’s mood, and slashers like Halloween Ends typically operate as a thrill-seeking ride with a simple morality tale at its core with some survivalist training thrown in for good measure. If you want a serious drama then you go and watch something else, yet here’s Halloween Ends somehow delivering a deeper message than Don’t Worry Darling (which I suppose is as much of a comment on the depth of Halloween Ends as it is the shallowness of Don’t Worry Darling). When studios falsely advertise the tone of their movie, they’re effectively drawing in an audience that will be in the wrong mood, proverbially starting off on the wrong foot, which it then has to work extra hard to convince viewers that what’s on screen is better than what people initially craved or expected to see. Simply put, Halloween Ends is a hard sell, and ultimately the bait and switch is a disservice to an otherwise unusually ponderous entry in this overdone subgenre.
+ Is ponderous over the nature of evil
+ Took a risk
+ Deeper themes than most slashers
+ Tells the story it wants—ignores fan service
- False advertising
- Where's Michael?
- Michael's getting old
- Doesn't deliver audience's expectations
- Will be hated
- Tonally different—off brand for the franchise
The Bottom Line
Halloween Ends certainly offered something different. If one can get past the initial shock and disappointment, a thoughtful and thematically deep dark drama awaits within this slasher finale.