Ladies and gentlemen, I gather you all to this Halloween review, posted on Halloween night, to announce that I am completely and utterly shocked. They made another good Halloween movie! The first good one (in my opinion) since Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake. Looking back on my reviews of the Halloween films, particularly of Zombie’s movies, it seems I am quite the contrarian when it comes to this franchise. And I’m going to continue in that spirit by saying Halloween Ends is by far the best movie in the new rebooted trilogy, which started back in 2018.
I can’t make it any simpler than the fact that I like it for the same reason I like the 2007 remake and, although to a much lesser extent, some of the 2009 sequel to it; Halloween Ends does new stuff. It’s fresh, treading new ground and is (for the most part) someone’s creative vision. All that to say that if you watch this movie and expect to see Michael kill people for 90 minutes, only for Laurie to beat him up in the last twenty, then you’ll disappointed, at least with the first half of that sentence.
Michael Myers is old in this movie. I mean, in this timeline, he’s always been in his 70’s, but I mean he’s old and fragile and broken. The first dude he kills beats him so bad that he falls over and literally needs help to get back up again. Yes, you read that right. He needs help. Help from this movie’s actual main antagonist who, no, is not Michael Myers.
Corey Cunningham is the antagonist of this movie. He’s a normal guy who wants to go to college and earns money babysitting. Then he inadvertently kills a child after being tricked into thinking he needs to protect the child from an intruder, which sends his whole future on a downward spiral. Set multiple years after Halloween Kills, people can’t be mad at Michael anymore. He’s not around to blame for any of the awful stuff that is happening in the town. And yet, even in his absence, his presence is felt; we’re shown at least one other Halloween murder not performed by Michael a year later, and people committing suicide on the night two years after Kills. The events of those nights are exploited by the media, and survivors of the previous movies are hostile to Laurie and Alison for getting away physically unscathed, and because they perceive them as provokers of Michael’s killing spree years prior.
It’s a great atmosphere. Haddonfield is such a crap hole town. Everyone is pessimistic, downtrodden and sunk in their own sorrows. Not in a depressing kind of way, but in a I don’t like the way you’re looking at me kind of way. And while a lot of emphasis is put on this during the movie’s first act, it runs throughout the film too. It’s just stuff you notice in the way people speak to each other and of the events of the previous films. It’s a different kind of scary; not inherently so just because some of it’s set on October 31st, but because of how natural it feels for the town to be in this state. It seems they somehow scrounged something good out of that Michael is making us evil stuff from Halloween Kills, and it shows.
In this toxic environment that Michael turned the town into, Corey Cunningham becomes the blame for the town’s troubles. He’s let off easy by the law for the accidental murder of the child he babysat and is wiped across the floor socially and physically by most of the town. One night he is beaten to a pulp by high school kids half his age and, a solid 30 minutes into the film, we finally see Michael Myers try to kill a vulnerable Corey. But he let’s Corey go, seeing something in him. And thereafter, Corey is involved in another accidental murder after the only other person who knows of Michael’s existence tries to forcefully return him to the killer. And Corey likes it, to have killed one of the many people treating him like dirt.
And that’s what this movie is. A slowish slasher about a regular guy turning into a murderer, and into the next Michael Myers. There’s a lot left up to the imagination here as Halloween’s unsubtle themes of pure evil return, but at least do so in a bit of an interesting way, begging the question of whether Corey always had the capacity to be evil or whether his evil was nurtured. It might sound like I’m diving deep here, but all this stuff is on the surface. The movie isn’t subtle about what it’s getting at with Corey, mainly because every scene that sets up why he wants to kill someone is in your face NATURE VERSUS NURTURE, YOU DECIDE. And I think that’s neat. Too on the nose? Definitely. But still neat.
What I also think is neat is the supernatural aspect of it. Because you can definitely read this movie as Michael intentionally transferred his evil into Corey or as Michael simply recognised something in Corey, which Corey intentionally fed into after meeting Michael. Both, I’d say, are equally valid readings of what’s going on in the film especailly as Corey doesn’t get Michael’s super natural powers after this. And the fact that there’s just one extra Halloween movie that bothers to be about something other than how many people Michael can kill, I think is worthy of praise. And sure, while this movie could have fallen flat on it’s face, it didn’t…
Not until the last twenty minutes.
You see, the first hour and forty minutes of this film truly do feel like director David Gordon Green’s creative vision, in the same way Rob Zombie’s movies felt like his visions, for better or worse. But the last twenty minutes of Halloween Ends simply reek of studio interference. It’s like they got cold feet and needed to revert back to the formula of Michael Myers having a fight with Laurie Strode. So, even though the 2018 film which started this trilogy already had a satisfying Laurie VS Michael showdown, we get another one here.
What’s so odd about this scene is the timing because the film already feels as though it’s reached its natural end by the time the fight occurs. Corey fights Michael and knocks him down very easily simply to steal his mask so he can impersonate and become the new Michael – costume and all. It seems as though Michael won’t be in the movie again. But he is. He pops up after Corey is dealt with, fails to kill the first person he sees – Laurie Strode – and gets absolutely beaten to hell by her and Alison. He dies.
Yep. For the first time since the Halloween 2 (2009), Michael Myers undisputedly dies on screen in such a way that would not facilitate any sequels set in this timeline.
But he really didn’t have to. As I say, what’s interesting about this is that Michael already feels dead. He’s pathetically weak in a way that is interesting to watch for what few scenes he is in, and is so side-lined after Corey becomes the new him that he really has no right existing in the story anymore. He doesn’t have to die to no longer be a threat to Haddonfield in this film or any other. Remember that he’s 70 years old and, for the first time in this trilogy, looks and feels it. So the fact he officially dies is nothing more but fan service in a tacked-on studio ending so we can all feel happy that Jamie Lee Curtis (after already decapitating him in H20, before it was retconned for a sequel) kills him again, but for real this time.
I say studio ending… I don’t know for a fact that this is some tacked-on garbage ending. But the whole feel of the last act and direction of the plot really doesn’t lead up to or facilitate this ending for Michael at all, given how absent he is for most of the plot. I just can’t imagine a world where any competent film maker sits down and decides this is 100% the ending they want for this particular movie. Like, Michael’s main purpose in this film is to facilitate Corey’s dark awakening and enable his actions through most of what he did in the previous movies, but this ending treats him as though he was the big bad, when that right belongs to Corey.
I think if Michael absolutely had to die for this trilogy to close, Corey should have just done it when he brawled to steal Michael’s mask at the end of the movie. Michael dying in the shadows might leave the other characters wothout closure, but since this film has such a heavy emphasis on trauma then I feel that’s appropriate; things don’t always neatly resolve. Then they could have a final showdown woth Corey in the mask, unmask him and think *oh crap*, which would cement the whole passing of the torch thing they were going for. I don’t know, that’s my two cents on Michael dying.
This movie is getting a lot of negative attention. And I agree with pretty much all of the stuff regarding the ending with Michael. It’s stupid. But I don’t get the hate around a lack of Michael or of violence. Sure, it’s not until 40 minutes in that we get our first kill since the intro sequence, but the finale when Corey embraces being the new Michael is full of fun kills. The same shockingly corny and gory stuff slasher fans will like. Some are very brutal, some are very fun. They strike a good balance and I enjoyed the sequences they came up with.
I semi-understand the criticisms around Corey being this sympathetic villain character. We do live in an age now where villain movies – particularly those in the superhero genre like Joker – are a dime a dozen and why this movie might be late to the party or feel a bit samey. These types of films tend to have a pretentious aura around them where they think they’re deeper than they actually are. I think it’s fair to say that of this movie too, to an extent, especially considering that in this trilogy, Corey is a character they whipped out of nowhere and suddenly made the focus of their last film in the final stretch of the three-movie narrative. It certainty is a jarring surprise. But on the other hand, Corey is well written. He’s sympathetic to a degree and even likable to begin with. Unlike something like Joker, the film never feels the need to justify or romanticize his evil, however. You feel exactly what they want you to feel when you see his downfall – it’s a bit sad, a bit disturbing and terribly interesting. And even a bit fun when he does dawn the Michael mask. And for how Corey is implemented and executed, as a character, I can’t really count those other things against the movie. I just think he works too well and that the real problems that prevent this movie being better exist outside of him and his story arc.
Halloween Ends isn’t perfect. It’s a bit weird. The ending is a little (a lot) all over the place. It doesn’t really feel like the end of this trilogy, so much as it feels like a Halloween movie that exists parallel to those other films… If that makes sense at all. References are made to Halloween 2018 and Kills, but they feel so far away from this movie’s plot and only really serve to enhance the setting of Haddonfield than anything else. But it’s also surprisingly well written and subversive for a Halloween film, and interesting beyond what a modern Halloween sequel has any right being. It makes you think. It’s a dumb slasher movie with Michael Myers turning some kid evil by looking at him for too long, and it makes you think. What else can I say? I like it. I like it and I would certainly recommend it.
The updated ranking for all the Halloween movies I’ve reviewed:
- 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)
This new ranking is now included in my An Epilogue to Halloween post, along with just one extra paragraph of how I think it fits in with the other movies around it. Not essential reading, this review is the bulk of my thoughts, but it’s just there for anyone who’s interested.