Updated: Oct 15
by Paul Deeter
In 1978 we met Michael Myers. The ultimate villain pre Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger, Myers was our first silent looming slasher. Of course the slasher movie has been claimed to having been conceived in 1960 with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. But Halloween is not unlike Psycho even though it established a different kind of horror story. Resting on a late act twist and a lack of violence, Psycho was groundbreaking and Halloween lent some respect towards the classic film. After the success of Assault on Precinct 13 in 1976, the early director John Carpenter was scouted to make a psychotic killer film who would prey on a victim babysitter, for an independent budget and with a quickly scripted screenplay. With all of the small scale makings and short shooting schedule of Halloween, its impressive just how complete and solid the film came out to be. This especially considering some of its rag-tag makings (including the last-minute use of a now iconic mask of Captain Kirk for our boogeyman), Halloween would go on to make 70 million on its $300 thousand dollar budget. It would be critically considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time, and the best film of 1978. It would also establish the biggest consistency of the series: our leading star and debuting actor Jamie Lee Curtis.
Part of the similarity to Hitchcock's Psycho was in respect to the film's almost bloodless portrayal of the murders by "The Shape" or Michael Myers' boogeyman. Once-dismissive critics became impressed by Carpenter's choice of camera angles and simple music, and surprised by the lack of blood and graphic violence. The movie's cinematography and slowly built tension worked in ways the sequels did not, with a lot more of their reliance for shocks coming from cheaply set up jump scares instead. There are countless more reasons to justify Halloween's cultural significance and film influence. ..it was largely responsible for the popularization of slasher films in the 1980s and helped develop the slasher genre..... Halloween helped to popularize the final girltrope, the killing off of characters who are substance abusers or sexually promiscuous,and the use of a theme song for the killer...These elements have become so established that many historians argue that Halloween is responsible for the new wave of horror that emerged during the 1980s. And with the influence it had on both horror modern and classic, its slasher tropes were often abused for the sake of ultra-violence and sexual overtones.
It's a long winding road that follows 1978. Halloween received a direct sequel due to its success in 1981, establishing the now frequent idea of the immortal boogeyman. Myers returns to slay and spill more blood, with the film's reliance on gore and viscera outdoing its need for actually earned suspense and tension. Love it or hate it (and present company loves it) the movie would immediately inspire a more infamous horror series: Friday the 13th. This film franchise favored S&M over horror, but its camp and charm make up for the overt sexuality of each entry. The Halloween franchise after 1981... starts to get confusing. In the overall (but inconsistent) canon of the original franchise, Halloween would have seven official sequels until 2002 with Halloween: Resurrection. Post the initial sequel, Carpenter bowed out and many other directors attempted to breathe life into the lifeless body of our boogeyman. Some of them are quite good, and if you come back in a week I maybe will have the films ranked.
But 2007 was a nasty year for Michael Myers. Rob Zombie infamously picked up where the 2002 film left off, but instead used the character in a remake of the original, and a sequel to his remake as well. These two films are arguably the worst of the Halloween series, even considering Halloween III: Season of the Witch which doesn't include Myers at all. His films are shockingly violent and dark, with a nastiness to them that doesn't favor any of the overall suspense or horror of the original. They were critical duds and two of the lower performing box office releases of the overall franchise. Zombie finally put the nail in the coffin of our boogeyman, or so we thought.
If this is starting to get confusing, refer to the chart below.
In 2018, David Gordon Green would return to the franchise with his own sequel to the original Halloween film, instead of doing a direct remake like Zombie attempting to honor the events of the first film after 40 years passed in the film. Considered by some horror fans as H40 in comparison to the predecessor of Resurrection with the film H20 (not based on water unfortunately). It's canonical for some, and for others considered a blight on the classic, but critically and commercially it showed a return to form to the franchise. Despite its leaning into modern jump-scares and ultraviolence, the film was a love letter to the original, offering many homages in its soundtrack and cinematography. Some of the original film's shots are actually lovingly recreated here. But instead of letting Halloween (2018) put a nice little bow on Myers, leaving his fate to burn alive by the hand of Curtis and her two generations of daughters, Green decided to make Halloween Kills in 2021. Kills is not the worst entry of the series but a noticeable drag on the 2018 entry, often aimless plot-wise and even laughable (evil dies tonight!) It wasn't nearly as successful as the 2018 feature, but would make quite a profit despite its negative reviews. And just a year later, here we are. Will this be the final Michael Myers film? Will this be an end to a long history of classic slasher franchises? Do we want or need more Myers??
Let's dive in.
The film's decision not to immediately follow the events of Halloween Kills instead roots it in 2021 after 3 years has passed since Myers last appearance. Much like the last two movies, the community is still on edge over the incidents involving Myers' spree, and the town is tentatively healing back into celebrating the holiday while discussions spread via talk-radio stations of whether he might return. The movie sets the stage with a character named Corey on a night babysitting a little brat named Jeremy. In a cruel prank Jeremy plays on Corey goes wrong, Corey knocks Jeremy off a banister in his house to his death, in a very poor taste dark moment that might pass for laughs. The set up of the kid being a cruel prankster locking in our babysitter protagonist somehow seems like an appropriate way to set up a sympathized "freak show" character who only accidentally kills a ten year old kid. His strange relationship with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, returning as our most famous final girl) exists because both of them are exiled by the community, Laurie instead for her involvement with the deaths of the community by the hands of the murderer Myers.
Understandably, in the three years after the incident of Myers and the accidental death of the kid, the community has not been kind on Laurie or Corey. Corey lives in Haddonfield free due to the judge's decision of his unintentional involvement of Jeremy's death, much to the chagrin of the community. He works in a junkyard avoiding eye contact with the neighborhood bullies that are probably years younger than him (and one with a mullet) who still choose to torment and beat him up at any passing. Laurie defends Corey when she can, sympathizing as if her situation has any semblance of relevance to the horrors of Myers. The movie follows both of them and Laurie's granddaughter, who has a crush on Corey and attempts to woo him to his hesitancy. And his hesitance is justified as he's constantly beaten and followed by the town's bullies and even Alyson's ex-boyfriend cop.
One night after a promising Halloween dance with Laurie, Corey is pushed over the edge (literally) and left for dead after a run in with his aggressors. The morning after he awakens to the sight of Michael Myers (finally onscreen after 40 minutes of runtime) and is nearly murdered at his hand. But as Michael stares at Corey he seems to see something there, a tortured soul too perhaps. A connection is made in their pain. Michael understands Corey like nobody else does, and a bond is immediately formed. This bond eventually forms them into accomplices; after Corey semi-accidentally murders a hobo and from there begins a fresh spree with Michael as his coach. This strange relationship isn't explored too deeply in the film, we are just to accept that Corey has final found his mentor. His role model. And as the mentorship gets more intense, so does Corey's relationship with Alyson and Laurie starts to take notice. Can she help Corey before he dives to deep into the abyss and takes Alyson with him? Or does she have another boogeyman to beat?
Halloween Ends can't be knocked for its creativity. Whether or not David Gordon Green reflected on the overall negative reaction to Kills is debatable. He's building up something new here as he threatens to End it. With the implementation of a whole new creep, it can be argued that Green is trying to branch out into a new franchise. But who cares about a 20-something jaded psychopath when "The Shape" has existed for decades? I certainly don't. And as I started worrying, the plot started to spiral out of control into a half-baked origin story poorly written with lame kills to boot. We're left to follow Corey on his spree as the new Michael, with far less presence or mystery as the original Shape. I can see why Green felt like the Michael arc needed a breath of fresh air, but I'd argue its never quite managed to do that since 78, unlike some more admirably clever slasher franchises. Did Halloween need a fresh take after Green's successful sequel? That answer lies in whether or not you were satisfied with Kills, which I was not. But Kills needed something to tie it up for sure, as Laurie couldn't be given the satisfaction in the 2018 film to have finally outsmarted him. So Green has to tie things up for good, 40+ years in the making.
Halloween had clever nods to the original with its recreation of certain shots and the reunion of Curtis. Where Ends attempts to finally prove itself is in the climax of the film. Finally we see the final face-off between Myers and Strode. And without entirely spoiling things, the end here tries its hardest to prove that things are over for real this time. The movie has its significant climax, its final fight and that's where you really get what you paid for with the cost of admission. But is it all, you know, "Ended?" I personally have to view this pragmatically. Ever since 1981, Hollywood had the idea that nothing could really kill the Boogeyman. Lightning, drowning and decapitation could not kill Jason. Being sent to Hell couldn't even kill him. Who's to say that whether or not the body goes, the spirit of Myers doesn't live on? In an afterword by Curtis, it is said "Evil doesn't die, it just changes shape."
I'm mentally stuck here. I didn't hate Halloween Ends as much as I wanted to after its ridiculous opening. I also never felt engaged in the story of Corey. By the time we finally closed that coffin and got what we came for: a Strode/Myers primetime cage fight, I was exhausted. I think fans are going to be split. I think the gatekeeping crowd who grew up with Myers won't ever agree on a modern change in his narrative. As I write this, someone is pre-producing the next Friday the 13th film. It's appropriately the 13th one in the series. But whether or not it can defend its purpose lies in if the film chooses to chase the boogeyman or chase the bank. Halloween Ends is a crooked-nail in a dusty coffin that doesn't quite know where it starts or where to end. It's the uneven ending we horror hounds and hags do not deserve, and its unfair not only to the legacy of Myers but also Curtis' career in general. I don't normally give film scores, but being how indecisive I'm about this movie, I'd probably put it in a C to C- range. It's not a complete failure and its simply nowhere near a success. Bummer.
Final Rating: C-