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MICKEY FINS AND JAMIE LEAVES
Halloween Ends (18)
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenplay: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Paul Brad Logan
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Andi Matichak
Review: David Stephens
So here we are. The conclusion to a trilogy that no one would have seen coming five years ago. Unfortunately, the almost-wholly positive reaction to 2018s Halloween has been tempered by the decidedly mixed reaction that Halloween Kills had last year. Despite some gnarly slayings and the odd moment of awesomeness, most people still can't hear the words "Evil Dies Tonight!" without a shudder… and not in a good way. After the reboot re-established Shatner-faced Michael Myers as a purely human predator with no real beef with Laurie Strode, Kills did more U-turns than a British Politician. It ended with the lack-lustre death of a main character, the seeming confirmation of Mikey's indestructibility, and the bizarre motivation that he was still a little boy, in essence, who just wanted to go home and look out of his bedroom window. Got all that? Good. Now forget it because Halloween Ends is here to finish the story, and it's not what you expected.
Four years after the new "night he came home" and the hysteria that swept through the streets of Haddonfield, Michael Myers is an urban legend. Again. He disappeared straight after the massacre, and no one knows where he went. But enough time (and therapy) has passed for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, of course) to turn her life around. She's writing her autobiography, talks in memes, and has bought a non-booby-trapped house with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Allyson is now a nurse and becomes interested in Corey (Rohan Campbell, who seems to now have Woody Harrelson's vocal cords), who is the town pariah after a Halloween prank went horribly wrong. Unfortunately, the taint of Michael's actions remains active, and Laurie finds herself having to face the murderous Shape for one last time…
The trailers and posters hype Ends as being based on the climactic battle between Laurie and Michael. Well, it's not. In fact, it's barely a slasher, and it doesn't feel like a Halloween movie. Gone is the shark-like stalking by Michael and tension-filled hide-and-seek sequences. In fact, if the running time were represented by the slices in that pumpkin pie that Laurie ruins near the start of the plot, it would be 50% = Haddonfield's residents behaving like assholes towards one another, 10% = awkward "meet-cutes", 30% = Ruminations on the nature and infectious quality of "evil" and negative emotions, and only 10% = Myers murdering. In some respects, it's a bold approach for the director (David Gordon Green) to take when winding down this so-called "H40" trilogy. The 2018 reset was so good because it managed to subvert and yet still honour the classic content of the 1978 original. By contrast, this just feels like a bit of a confusing mess. JLC and the Shape are conspicuous by their absence for some of the running time. Instead, sub-plots around the treatment of Corey and how Michaels' legacy has poisoned the town and the populace within it dominate the story. Some parts of the plot veer towards dubious territory explored by another horror franchise during one off-kilter sequel (possible spoiler, so we won't name it), and it just doesn't fit the franchise in tone. Some of the characters have become almost metaphors rather than individuals. Allyson bonds immediately with Corey for no good reason in the space of a couple of days, Laurie's positive mental outlook seems out-of-sorts with the previous two films, and likeable character actor Will Patton is given to wittering about cherry blossoms at every opportunity.
Green has previously said that both Kills and Ends were exactly the sort of films he wanted to make, but they may not be the sort of films that will satisfy the horror community. We kind of get where he was going with Ends. Like Kills, it looks at the bigger picture and how society collectively deals with things like trauma, guilt, scapegoating, and grief. It also tries to examine what makes someone "evil" – basically, if you treat someone as if they're a psychopath, they're more likely to embrace a "dark path". Not exactly Freud, but some interesting points are made. Do people really want that from a classic horror franchise, though? Possibly, but it's questionable when the film is being sold as a battle of blood and wits between horror icons.
Along with the erratic characterisation, there are some dodgy lines as well "("Boys who keep secrets don't get custard on their dessert"). Real scares are completely absent, jump or otherwise. Gory killings are restrained until the final sequences, where they go predictably ape-shit. Knife meets skin, and "Kensington Gore" is slopped all over the place. Like the previous entries, there are some nifty callbacks to previous shots, such as the stalker by the hedge and the victim impaled to the wall. The climax is, to be honest, fairly ridiculous. But at least it provides some satisfaction and a sense of conclusion, which is sadly missing in the rest of the narrative. JLC is still watchable and awesome in parts as well. But on the whole, this falls well below the hopes and expectations that people may have had after watching the 2018 film and hearing of the two sequels. Kills may have fumbled the ball, but Ends trips over its shoelaces.
At least you can say that the film mostly strives for an unconventional finale. The problem is that now most of it feels alienating and strays too far from the original concepts. Characters become annoying and behave unrealistically; perhaps it would work better as a social behavioural study outside the franchise. But JLC still rocks in scenes, kills are cruel, and the admittedly-ridiculous endgame has some satisfying moments…. Still a huge disappointment after the banging 2018 reboot, though.
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