Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, Will Patton, James Jude Courtney, Kyle Richards
Written by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Directed by David Gordon Green
Produced by Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
Executive producers: John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride
Music by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies
It’s unbelievable–and unfortunate–that we’re all still putting up with, dealing with and being irritated and annoyed by yet another disappointing, unscary, Z-movie-style, mindless, overly-violent, overly-gory moronic psycho slasher “Halloween” movie–“Halloween Ends”–that’s scheduled to be released during the cursed weekend of October 14-16, 2022, an equally-unbelievable forty-four years after the release of John Carpenter’s original classic, 1978’s “Halloween.”
It’s been said many times before, but it still needs to be said again: There was never any need for any other “Halloween” movie after Carpenter’s 1978 original, and none of the following films that were released after the original were good movies, on any level. None. Zero. Zilch. There was just no need or purpose, really, for any of the subsequent twelve–that’s right, count ’em, TWELVE–“Halloween” movies that have littered the popular culture and filmic landscape for forty-four years like so many bloodied, murdered bodies that have been left rotting in unfortunate Haddonfield, Illinois, and elsewhere at the hands and knives of crazed psycho killer Michael Myers.
And, since we’re on the subject once again, since it’s relevant to this review, and since it’s the Halloween and scary movie season, it’s been said many times before, but it needs to be said once again: For most horror movie series, throughout film history, there has been no reason for the existence of most of the franchises’ sequels, prequels and reboots, and nearly all of them have been, simply, terrible, awful, or, specifically, poorly-produced, poorly-directed, poorly-written and poorly-acted. Most horror movie follow-up films have just been embarrassingly moronic.
To further elaborate: The sequels, prequels and reboots for all of the following series’ classic, trendsetting, groundbreaking–and entertaining–originals didn’t need to be made and were just awful: all of the series films after Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” from 1974; William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” from 1973; Richard Donner’s “The Omen” from 1976; Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” from 1976; Sean S. Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” from 1980; Ivan Reitman’s “Ghostbusters” from 1984; Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street from 1984; Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” from 1987; Tom Holland’s “Child’s Play” from 1988; James Wan’s “Saw” from 2004; and many more, add (yes, add) nauseam.
Some notable, positive and welcome exceptions to SequelitisAndRemake Syndrome have been Richard Franklin’s “Psycho 2” from 1983 (Tom Holland co-wrote the screenplay with Franklin); John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing” from 1982; Philip Kaufman’s remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” from 1978; John Badham’s “Dracula” from 1979; two of George Romero’s sequels to his 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead”–1979’s “Dawn of the Dead” and 2005’s “Land of the Dead; the offshoot of that series from Dan O’Bannon, 1985’s “The Return of the Living Dead;” and Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” from 1999.
But those excellent horror film sequels and reboots are rare exceptions to the ghoul.
Which brings us back, alas, to this weekend’s monstrosity monstrous mess of a movie, director, co-writer and co-executive-producer David Gordon Green’s awful, disappointing downer disaster “Halloween Ends.” The most scary thing about this stupidly gory, gross-out, unoriginal, dumbed-down and unscary movie is the fact that another “Halloween” movie is invading movie theaters in 2022, in an industry that is desperately trying to get moviegoers back into the theaters. And the most entertaining thing about this movie–really–is hearing those occasional snippets of John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween” theme music, which is still one of the great horror movie series theme scores.
But when the most entertaining aspect of a big-budget, modern-day, technologically-savvy horror movie is its musical score, you knows you’re in deep trouble.
Not as much trouble, though, as the poor, hapless, unfortunate characters in “Halloween Ends.”
“Ends,” to its brief credit, desperately, continually tries to get at and to some deeper psychological ruminations on the elusive natures of good and evil; on the natures of perceived freaks and psychos and how people treat them; on how good people turn bad and sometimes never come back; on the inherent evil, or biased, attitudes of otherwise good people and the resulting destructive aspects of their behavior; and on how some people can fight their demons–physical and mental–and survive while others too easily succumb to their demons. These are all worthwhile, respectable points, subjects, messages and themes, of course–however, with “Ends,” just about all of that intellectualizing is thoroughly, dumbly wasted, thrown out and cast aside in favor of–you guessed it–just too many rote, trite, trope, cliched, unscary and all-too-familiar dumb scenes of people getting skewered, pierced, sliced, diced, battered and bashed in unpleasant, disgusting scenes of murder that are wholly lacking in any sense of style, class, originality or panache.
Yes, a good horror movie can, and, most of the time, does have many scenes of scary murders–of course–but the entire key to making kill scenes interesting, scary, terrifying, horrifying and entertaining in a chiller thriller film is how those kills are executed in a satisfying filmic manner, how the overall suspense and tension and frights are handled, how the timing, pacing, editing, camera work, lighting and music are integrated, and how the murders are woven into the overall story, plot, subplots and characterizations of the movie.
In “Halloween Ends,” there’s some attempt at all of this, as noted, but despite the efforts of four screenwriters, an army of producers and executive producers–which includes, by the way, John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis–and even some strong performances by several leading actors, once again, the bloody, gory, gruesome murders end up overtaking, smothering, obscuring, engulfing and ruining any of these attempts to be intelligent, deep and insightful. “Halloween Ends” simply fails in the end because of its crazed, sick insistence on unnecessary, overly-sickening scenes of obsessive violence.
If Green, Carpenter, Curtis and comrade-in-severed-arms horror schlockmeister and co-producer Jason Blum had only stepped back, taken a deep breath, thought things through on a more intellectual level, avoided the blood-and-guts and graphic nature of the violence–that’s right, avoided it–and made a real attempt at producing a truly original horror film that was more psychological, dramatic and emotional than graphic, grossly shocking and visceral, maybe they could have had a genuinely quality dramatic horror suspense thriller on their bloody hands.
“Ends” continues the storyline that Green, Carpenter, Curtis and others started in 2018 with the revisited, new “Halloween,” which was not a remake or a reimagining, but rather a direct sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 original, and the follow-up, 2021’s continuation, “Halloween Kills.” All three of these movies focus on original hero Laurie Strode, played by Curtis in the 1978 original and in all three of these new films, as Laurie deals with her troubled past and her equally-troubled present. Understandably, Laurie has remained haunted her entire life by the pure evil that is Michael Myers, the lunatic insaniac whose main hobby and goal in life is to simply kill innocent people, often in unusually horrendous ways. And one of Myers’ concurrent lifelong hobbies and goals is to simply kill Laurie Strode.
In “Ends,” set in current times, in 2022, Strode is enjoying a four-year respite from Myers, death, evil, murder and general unpleasantness–and she’s actually enjoying life, looking great, smiling more, settling into a nice existence in a beautiful single-family home in Haddonfield, enjoying living with her beautiful, independent-minded granddaughter Allyson (wonderfully played by a captivating Andi Matichak), and, in a healthy way, even writing an often-eloquent autobiography about her bizarre life. And she’s even enjoying some later-in-life, mature and even sweet romantic attention from local deputy Frank Hawkins, wonderfully underplayed by a calming Will Patton. Life seems to be pretty good for Laurie Strode–for a while, at least.
But then everything goes to holy hell, but not in a satisfactory manner. Strode’s newly-sane life is shattered when a local twentysomething, Corey Cunningham (well-played by Rohan Campbell), who was previously falsely accused or murdering a local kid in what was revealed to be a freakish accident, suddenly gets into a romantic relationship with Allyson. However, at the same time, Corey, who has wrestled his entire life with the demons of the fatal accident he was involved in, encounters Myers hiding out in a hidden sewer lair near town and, well, strangely becomes some type of odd student/follower/fan of Myers. It’s an interesting twist that also could have benefited from a more psychological, intellectual, dramatic focus. But–you guessed it–Corey and his newfound murder-buddy-best-pal Michael go on that aforementioned killing spree, and, as a seemingly endless body count piles up in just a nauseating manner, that’s when the entire movie, story, plot, script, direction and production come to a complete stop, breaks down, devolves, implodes and destroys itself.
The movie even continues to yet another graphically violent, completely unoriginal and tiresome battle between Laurie and Michael–yet again. This fight, which should have been epic, memorable and heroically climatic, is none of the above. It’s just two old foes fighting with sharp and heavy things–knives, refrigerators–in a dark kitchen. It’s no spoiler, really, to report that Laurie wins and Michael dies. It’s no spoiler because, at the very least, diehard fans should have at least one bit of good news, considering how most of the rest of the movie is, filmically, bad news.
As for Corey, well, things don’t go so well–he goes completely Michael Myers and dies after killing what appears to be most of the main cast of characters. Allyson survives along with Laurie, and she gets a nice ride into the sunset, befitting her character’s independence and her need to finally break free of everything “Halloween,” Haddonfield, Michael Myers, murder and death.
Watching Allyson ride off into the sunset, filmgoers who have suffered through this movie up to this point near the end of the movie will feel a huge urge to run after her, jump in that car and also escape everything “Halloween” and Haddonfield.
Amid the downer despair, gory gloom, viscious violence and murderous mayhem, Green and his co-writers do remember to throw in a few honorable, respectful nods of homage and recognition to Carpenter’s original 1978 classic. In the original, Laurie hides out in an upstairs closet before fighting Myers. In “Ends,” Laurie hides out in a kitchen closet before fighting Myers. In the original, some kids watch Christian Nyby’s “The Thing from Another World” movie from 1951. In “Ends,” some folks watch John Carpenter’s 1982 remake, “The Thing.” In the original, Laurie and one of her friends listen to Blue Oyster Cult’s classic “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” In “Ends,” the song is played at the start of the closing credits.
It’s nice for the younger filmmakers to show some respect and recognition to Carpenter’s original classic in such ways. However, the ultimate homage would have occurred if the filmmakers had somehow managed to make a good movie in the tradition of the 1978 original.
Curtis and Blum and Green and Carpenter have promised that “Halloween Ends” will indeed be the last movie in the “Halloween” series.
Please, please, please, in the name of all that is holy and unholy, good and bad, good and evil, old and new, heaven and hell, and for the sake of Laurie Strode, let this “Halloween” movie series, this story, this franchise, and a nicely surviving and heroic Laurie Strode, finally rest in eternal peace.