After 40 years and 13 films, it might finally be time to put the Halloween franchise in its grave. This is not because Michael Myers or Laurie Strode are lacking potential scares or plot possibilities, but because the most recent two films in the franchise have shown that filmmakers have no idea what to do with these two anymore.
Just like Homer Simpson designing a car, a single vision for the future of a creation is not always in the best interest of the end user. (In this analogy, director David Gordon Green is Homer and the audience are the ones left with a lumpy, unfathomably inaccessible auto.) While it could be argued that The 2018 revisitation to the earlier lineage of the horror film’s franchise was a decent film that explored unrelenting paranoia and trauma, much of the solid foundation laid then was destroyed in 2021’s Halloween Kills, and is completely absent from Halloween Ends.
Unlike the immediacy of the timeline in Kills, Ends picks up a year after the second Michael Myers attacks. It is Halloween night 2019 in Haddonfield, but Michael Myers is nowhere to be found. Instead, we meet Corey (Rohan Campbell) who is a substitute babysitter for the night so that wealthy parents can go get their costumed drink on. The kid being watched is a bit of a handful, but things go south for Corey when he agrees to play a game. A freak accident occurs, and Corey is now the new town pariah in a town of judgy busybodies.
Despite the strong evidence for angry mobs and prolonged collective, untreated trauma present in Haddonfield in Kills, Ends takes the approach to instead show us both Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Corey encountering neighbors with no filter who blame these two for all of the town’s woes. Laurie even tells the audience of these issues more directly through voiceover and montage about how difficult things are in Haddonfield these days. The voiceover is forced, but Ends tries to pass off this heavy handed philosophical talk by showing Laurie writing a book about her life and attacks.
All of this would be acceptable if it serves to set the scene of the film to follow, but it does so for the wrong reasons. Sure, there is value to quick exposition, but the real takeaway here is not the staging of the plot. What it is actually setting up is uneven, unpredictable, inconsistent, and incoherent characters.
While audiences feel like we know Michael and Laurie fairly well, each entry into the franchise has the right to take a little creative license with these wholly fictional characters. In Green’s previous two Halloweens he leaned into Michael killing at random, without logic or pity. In Ends, Michael plainly makes no sense. Is he an unbridled killing machine, a trainable sidekick, or a metaphorical representation of the bits of evil that live within all of us. Not only can we not tell if Michael knows, it feels possible that Green does not know either. Laurie, her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and the entire population of Haddonfield suffer the same disorganized fate.
Continuing the theme of inconsistency is the plot. To say it is incoherent might be to underestimate the savvy of audiences to do the assembling that editing and writing did not do, but this attention and heavy lifting should not be their responsibility. Ends does try to drape a story over the empty wire frames of the half-baked characters, but there is no hope for any of it.
Halloween Ends is by no means the worst horror film of the year, or even of the Halloween franchise, but it is a categorical disappointment and unworthy of the family name.