The infectious nature of violence is the real boogeyman in Halloween Ends, the allegedly final installment in the Laurie Strode/Michael Myers rebooted-ish Halloween series.
This movie is also about the awesome recent career of Jamie Lee Curtis. She served up Laurie in the last movie, 2021’s Halloween Kills, largely from a hospital bed, which feels like a pretty rad way to collect your franchise check. Since restarting the Halloween franchise with Halloween in 2018, where she got to play a gun-toting revenge-seeking prepper, she’s been in Knives Out and played Deidre Beaubeidre in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Curtis is, at 63, living the life and even though these Halloween movies aren’t setting the world on fire for me they have, in total, given me a new appreciation for Curtis for being able to get fun work in movies past the age when Hollywood usually allows women to have that. (Also, for what it’s worth, they’ve made some good money at the box office.) “Good on ya, Jamie Lee Curtis” might actually be my strongest takeaway from this trilogy as a whole.
We’ve had a little time jump since Halloween Kills, which I guess took place in 2018 (the same in-universe night, I think, as 2018’s Halloween). It’s now four years later. Laurie Strode (Curtis) is still dealing with the death of her daughter (Judy Greer) at the hands of Myers at the end of the last movie. She lives with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) still in the same death-town of Haddonfield, Illinois, but now in a proper house in a regular neighborhood. She’s decorating for Halloween, writing about surviving all the Michael Myers violence and even awkwardly flirting with Frank (Will Patton), longtime friend and police officer. But even in happy moments she finds herself buried in the grief of the Myers killings. People blame her for all the death and destruction and she feels that the evil and violence of those actions have spread, not just to the Halloween Kills vigilante mob but to crimes perpetrated through the town over the last four years. One of the most gruesome, which we see in the movie’s opening scenes, happens in 2019 and features college-ish-aged Corey (Rohan Campbell), called in to babysit for a boy when his parents go to a Halloween party. The kid tries to scare Corey by locking him in the attic, but what happens next leaves Corey pegged as a new town boogeyman.
In the present day, Laurie sees Corey getting picked on by some high school kids and feels sorry for him. She takes him to the hospital to be treated by Allyson, who takes an instant liking to Corey. It is once again Halloween time and the tentative new couple goes to a party, where there are masks and angry townsfolk and instances of casual violence. Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney as “The Shape”), not seen since 2018, lurks in the corners but does he see in Corey prey or something else?
Look, I’m not going to pretend that this movie is super deep. It is still mostly stabbing and screaming and masked figures doing a power walk after running-in-terror victims. But there’s some “what is the nature of evil” and “how does hate spread” musings, often delivered by Curtis, between all of that, which gives the movie at least the veneer of thoughtfulness. We also get fountains of stage blood and some pretty gleeful squish noises, so I don’t feel fans of the seasonal classics will be disappointed. I did also appreciate the overall lo-fi quality of the movie, with its out-of-time setting (from clothes to hair to the fact that the whole town is glued to the rock radio station, there is still a general late-1970s/early 1980s vibe) and its quip-free, linear-plot-development no-nonsense approach to the story. There is almost something wistful about the whole endeavor, like you can feel a bittersweetly smiling Curtis saying “aw, I’m going to miss all this knife-welding.”
Halloween Ends ultimately feels like it’s delivering vibes more than a scary story, but if you’re in the mood for Halloween-season fare, I feel like you could do worse. C+
Rated R for bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by David Gordon Green and written by Paul Brad Logan & Chris Bernier & Danny McBride & David Gordon Green, Halloween Ends (sure it does) is an hour and 51 minutes long and is distributed by Universal Studios in theaters and via Peacock.
Featured photo: Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween Kills.