Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Halloween Ends: A Review



If there is one point on which I have been roundly criticized, it is in that I have, for various reasons and circumstances, made Halloween Ends the first Halloween film that I have ever seen. Horror is not a genre that appeals to me. I do not hate it, but I am not passionate about it. As such, I just never found the Halloween franchise something I needed to see. 

Having now seen Halloween Ends, I think I can safely say that I have yet to see a Halloween film. Few films in a franchise, especially one billing itself as the epic conclusion to a long-running series, have gone as far out of their way to sideline their central characters as Halloween Ends.

Halloween Night, 2019. Twenty-one year old student Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) is babysitting for a wealthy family. The only son, Jeremy (Jaxon Goldenberg) is an obnoxious tyke who taunts Corey and locks him in the attic. In a rage, Corey kicks the door open, which somehow ends up causing Jeremy to plunge to his death four floors just as his parents come in.

Three years later, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is still coming to terms with the havoc her nemesis Michael Myers has caused not just her but the whole town of Haddonfield, Pennsylvania. Not quite a recluse but not a social butterfly, Laurie's time is taken up with her memoirs and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Allyson, also traumatized by Michael's murder of her mother, is working as a nurse.

This brings her in contact with Corey, now out of prison, whom Laurie helped after he was bullied by a gang of high school band members. Laurie at first encourages a romance between them. Soon, however, we see that Corey is developing a dark, murderous side. The bullying and an encounter with Michael Myers himself turns Corey into a de facto protégé of our favorite serial killer.  Soon, Corey starts killing while still pushing Allyson to leave this Podunk town behind. 

Corey's murderous mayhem can only be stopped by Laurie, who also must face off against her decades-long antagonist.

Again, I come at this from the vantage point of someone mostly unfamiliar with the Halloween mythos. Despite my admittedly limited knowledge however (here helped by an early montage that caught people up via Laurie's memoirs), I imagine that Halloween fans would feel that Halloween Ends was a bait-and-switch of almost insulting proportions.

Halloween Ends is not a Halloween film. It is a Corey Cunningham film with Michael Myers as a guest star. So much of Halloween Ends centers around Corey that the film really could have cut Myers out altogether without affecting the story.

There were, by my count, fourteen and a half kills in Halloween Ends. Michael Myers was responsible for two and a half of them (the half coming from snapping the neck of someone who had already stabbed himself in the neck). One death was accidental, but the eleven other kills were all Corey. At one point, Corey literally takes Michael's mask and kills while wearing it.

Things like that, I figure, make a mockery of Michael Myers. People, especially Halloween fans, did not come to see Corey Cunningham go on a murderous spree. I also do not think they came to see their favorite serial killer be made into someone else's servant. There are four credited screenwriters to Halloween Ends including the film's director, David Gordon Green. That is already a bad sign, to have so many hands on a script.

That four people minimum came up with one awful to idiotic decision after another is bad enough. Such things as having Corey recreate Michael Myers moments, not explain how after being tossed off a bridge Corey no longer needed his glasses and making vague suggestions that Michael either transferred his powers to Corey or at least looked into his soul are eye-rolling.

What made things worse is that one suspects there were more people working on the script. It felt as if the various screenwriters were throwing everything at the script to force a delay in the confrontation between Laurie and Michael. It also felt as if Halloween Ends wanted to build up a character that is not important to the past stories and which they cannot build up any future Halloween films. 

So much time is spent on Corey and his romance with Allyson it is almost like Halloween Ends does not care about Laurie or Michael. I do not understand the thinking behind every decision in the film.

Some of the scenes that were meant to inspire horror only ended up having the opposite effect. The radio DJ was supposed to meet a grisly end, but if so, the audience laughter showed they failed to do so. You cannot have characters such as Corey's mom say things like, "Boys who keep secrets don't get custard for dessert" and expect people to take this remotely seriously.

As Corey is essentially the lead character in Halloween Ends, I think Rohan Campbell gave as good a performance as he could given this is still early in his career. In the early scenes as the pre-loony Corey, he was pleasant while still feeling a bit off. It is only when he comes back that you struggle to believe he is bullied by people who went to band camp (even if three of the four were unpleasant, with only one showing even the smallest glimpse of kindness). Sometimes Campbell felt forced as the menacing Corey, the angry young man turned psycho.

Curtis made Laurie look slightly bonkers. Granted, the character has been throw a lot. However, she could not muster the menace of finally facing her tormentor once and for all or the wounded woman attempting to protect her granddaughter. Matichak looked bored throughout, as if silently cursing her agent for wrapping her up in this. 

I figure there were a few cameos and appearances from those in past Halloween films, but they did not elicit any responses. Instead, Halloween Ends is a disservice to Halloween fans. It is not a Halloween film. Filled with bad performances, nonsensical story beats and a central character no one cares about, Halloween Ends is a terrible, even sad, way to end this long franchise.

In the final analysis, I can see why it was called Halloween Ends. It is because no one would go see a movie called Corey Begins


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