If my blog was dormant before, “It’s alive” now, to quote Henry Frankenstein from Frankenstein (1931). Horror movies are to my blog what mushrooms are to Mario. Terrible use of quotes and analogies aside, there’s been some small measure of anticipation (on my end) for Halloween Ends. Regardless of the franchise’s future, there’s something poignant about seeing Jamie Lee Curtis playing and ultimately closing the book on a character that’s defined her career. But is the film a worthwhile swansong for Laurie Strode? Have you seen Halloween Ends? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you like my ramblings on all things horror then you can check out more of my work at my second home, Horror Obsessive. One of my first pieces for the site was about the primal themes of Halloween that I examined through Michael Myers and Laurie via the 1978 film, H20 (1998) and the 2018 Halloween film.
Much like some of the previous Halloween sequels, the current crop of Michael Myers’s films have been a mixed bag. The 2018 film was a straightforward and occasionally subversive piece of franchise clearing, using homage to paint a fascinatingly monstrous picture of an aged Laurie Strode. Halloween Kills swung for the fences conceptually, by depicting the ills of mob rule after it perceives a lack of action from authority. However, it was marred by sloppy execution, cynical use of nostalgia and writing that become meme-worthy (in all the wrong ways). It comes as something of a surprise that Halloween Ends worked for me. It’s audacious, ambitious, and comes the closest to the original 1978 film insofar as feeling like a potent horror fable.
Taking place four years after the events of Halloween Kills, Ends sees Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) living in relative peace with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). However, this seemingly quiet existence is disturbed by the introduction of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). The young twenty-something was involved in a tragic incident while babysitting one night. After getting trapped in an upstairs attic, by a young boy called Jeremy, Corey aggressively kicks down the door, which results in Jeremy tumbling to his death over a flight of stairs.
Despite being cleared of charges, the young man is hounded and mocked by being called a child killer and general psycho. Despite entering a relationship with an empathetic Allyson, Corey finds himself pulled into the darkness, something that’s accelerated when he survives an encounter with Michael Myers, who has been hiding in the sewers since the events of Halloween Kills.
If Halloween (1978) was a horror fairy tale about the awakening of a shy young woman’s maternal instincts then Halloween Ends is a horrific fable about the awakening of a young man’s capacity for violence and evil. Ends’ screenplay attempts to parallel Laurie and Cory (their names rhyme) by contrasting their tragic plights and how they changed them. Laurie’s encounter with Michael Myers made her fearful, paranoid and a monster (in some ways) who over-protected her daughter and relatives. Whereas, Cory’s encounter with Myers awakened a deep-seated sense of frustration (manifesting in sudden actions such as his flipping all the medical equipment in reaction to Allyson being called cute by her boss at her workplace).
These subtle instances that illustrated a loss of control were all too relatable to me and imbued the character with a genuine sense of pathos. At the same time, the screenplay is also possibly giving us a glimpse into the psychology of Michael, someone who in the original snapped and killed his sister after she slept with her boyfriend.
Ends’ choice to focus on Corey is not new for the slasher genre. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy Revenge was about Freddy Kruger possessioning a young man and getting him to enact his will. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was a murder mystery in which a copycat killer is unmasked as Jason Voorhees. Even the Halloween sequels flirted with the idea of Myers’s evil being transferred (and possibly him being an accomplice) via the ending of Halloween 4, which had Myers’s niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) who killed her stepmother like her uncle (even wearing the same clown mask).
The difference is the execution. In his performance as Corey, Rohan Campbell is charming as the shy, goofball kid who transforms into a downtrodden, cold and violent being who lashes out at those who put him down. In an extended role as Allyson, Andi Matichak is charming, lighthearted and tragic in how she cannot connect with Corey (at times). In one scene, she holds out her arms as though she’s about to hold or embrace the young man. To me, the moment was near tear-inducing in showing Allyson’s constant search for connection.
In her lighter scenes, Jamie Lee Curtis comes closest to embodying Margot Kidder in Black Christmas. However, her most outstanding moments as the character come near the end, where Laurie is almost engaged in a silent play, contemplating her life, what she lost and the demons that have defined her.
John Carpenter once again in collaboration with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies delivers an interesting and rich score. The standout track is “The Procession”, which is experimental in its industrial tones that underscores the will and resolve of Haddonfield as it unites to see Myers finally die.
David Gordon Green really impresses in his direction whether it’s these dizzying push-pull shots of a long and ever-expanding staircase that references Vertigo, and greatly juxtapose the past and how characters are still lingering in it. Or his homage to the end of Halloween (1978), in which the movie itself is almost looking for Myers via a series of medium shots of various rooms in a house. Whilst those ending shots were bathed in darkness, the cinematic homage has them engulfed in light, with a subtle placement of Myers’s mask. The choice suggests that the slasher has been found, but will always linger in our collective consciousness.