Halloween isn’t over. It’s frightful that I must start this epilogue to my review series with a reminder that we’re still due a 2022 film called Halloween Ends, which will wrap-up the reboot of the franchise that started with the 2018 film. Rest assured, I’ll be back to review that movie when the time comes, but for now it’s the end of the road.
It was striking to me how much the franchise fell from grace after the first movie. The 1978 film is a classic, and I even found myself enjoying Halloween 2 (1981) more than I expected. And while Halloween 3: Season of the Witch wasn’t as bad as everything to come after it, it’s rushed pacing and forced story beats would only be the start of what lay in store for Halloween 4, 5 and 6.
To my surprise, outside of the original, it was the modern Halloween films that seemed to be doing the heavy lifting in so far as providing the franchise with longevity; Rob Zombie’s movies might have been unconventional and divisive, but his willingness to commit to his unique vision for the series and provide his set of films a definitive end set them apart in a positive way for me. And then Halloween (2018), while far from great, still did a solid job at being a reboot. It set up Halloween Kills to be a good movie starting from a good place, so it’s a shame the 2021 film didn’t capitalise on the goodwill its predecessor generated.
Of course these weren’t the first reboots the franchise head seen; Halloween H20 did that. And what made that movie work was it’s self-awareness and ability to recognise almost nothing new could be done with the premise of having Michael Myers kill people. It’s short run-time, barebones story and simple twist on the slasher formula – wherein the final girl this time goes hunting for the killer – is what made it work. It’s certainly one of the peaks of the franchise in my opinion for simply knowing what it wanted to do and executing itself in a satisfying way. H20 might be my favourite reboot simply because, unlike a lot of modern movies, it doesn’t nostalgia bait a whole lot. Sure, it brings back some old cast members and gives callbacks, but these things are in service of the story and not just making you point at the screen to say “I understood that reference”.
These standout films all have one thing in common; they rebooted the series in a way that reinvigorated it and breathed fresh air into a dated premise, hence their success. However, they also have another thing in common; their sequels undo all of this goodwill.
Think about it: The sequel to H20 is Resurrection, which spends 20 minutes of its opening making sure we forget H20 ever took place before moving on to a generic haunted house premise where Michael predictably kills teenagers one by one. Halloween Kills undoes the 2018 movie’s commitment to a blank-slate depiction of Michael by once again giving him motivation and taking inspiration from some of the franchise’s worst entries, such as Halloween 4 and 5. And while Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009) might not repeat the franchises previous mistakes, the direction it takes and the way in which it’s themes are communicated to the audience frequently feel intentionally alienating. The very commitment that made Zombie’s 2007 remake stand out seems to go too far too fast in it’s sequel. The same themes and stories Halloween 2 (2009) wanted to explore could have been achieved if Zombie had the capacity to save much of his insanity until the movie’s climax, and instead provide us with a steadier build-up to his more ludicrous imagery and supernatural elements.
All this brings me to one conclusion; this franchise needs to end.
There is next to nothing worth doing with it anymore other than pump out endless sequels to garner cold, hard cash for studios. If Halloween Kills is any indication of the franchise’s direction, in that it worships the old movies so much that everyone Michael goes up against looks as though they’re two weeks away from being committed to an old-folks home, then it seems even the franchise itself knows that the best of its days are behind it. So regardless of if 2022’s Halloween Ends is a good movie or terrible one, I’ll be giving it extra points if they decide to never put Michael Myers on the screen again thereafter. Alas, I feel that line of thinking might be naive of me…
I’d also quickly like to share some behind the scenes stuff: It was a lot more difficult to rank these films than it was with the Godzilla ones. When I reviewed the Godzilla movies the ranking list never changed from when I started and when I ended, probably because of how much more clear-cut the line can be between good and bad in that franchise. But in Halloween, there’s a lot of movies that are in a grey area where they aren’t terrible, but aren’t really good either – I found that to be the case with Halloween 3, 4 and the 2018 reboot. These movies went up and down the list a number of times, as I reranked them. I generally give myself a bit of time before writing a review so I can avoid these sorts of inner conflicts about the movies, but putting them side-by-side in a list of the other equally “meh” movies had me altering the list quite a lot before publication.
The thing is with Godzilla you always know what you’re getting into; the first 10 minutes of those films generally give you an accurate idea about what the overall quality of the film is going to be like based on the tone, dialogue writing, sets and so on… With Halloween, watching these movies back to back is like being on a rollercoaster. You get a string of great movies, and then a string of bad ones, and then a string of good ones again in an endless cycle.
Anyway, overall I did enjoy watching all these films. It’s interesting doing these franchise reviews and I’ll definitely be diving into another one (though I haven’t decided what yet) in the future. But first there’s some other movies I need to catch up and would like to talk about before I commit to another long series. I hope you enjoyed reading the Halloween reviews as much as I liked writing them.
The final ranking of the Halloween films I have reviewed can be found below. When Halloween Ends comes out, I shall review it and update the rankings on this post to reflect it. I’ll also include the final list at the end of that review when the time comes.
THE HALLOWEEN ENDS UPDATE:
So Halloween Ends came along and as an odd ball. It seems David Gordon Green took his relatively complacent and content little trilogy and finally decided to do something risky with it. For many it didn’t pay off, but I really liked what it had to offer. I struggled as to whether it should be above or below Halloween 2018, but I think it should be above. Good as 2018 is, it’s just H20 with a modern and edgier aesthetic, mixed in with the idea of updating ol’ Michael for a new generation. All of those things, while executed well in the film, are nothing Halloween fans haven’t seen before. But Ends does offer something we haven’t seen before. It’s a glimpse of this franchises willingness to step in new directions, and the story on it’s own did work for me. So yeah, it’s the new number four spot on the ranking.
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween H20 (1998)
- Halloween (2007)
- Halloween Ends (2022)
- Halloween (2018)
- Halloween 2 (1981)
- Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1983)
- Halloween 2 (2009)
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
- Halloween Kills (2021)
- Halloween Resurrection (2002)
- Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)