Halloween Ends Review : Cunningham – First Blood

An overly ambitious hotchpotch of drama, romance, psychological thriller, and of course, horror

Universal Pictures

Long-suffering, apparently impermeable boogeyman-fighter Laurie Strode’s story finally comes to an end in Halloween Ends – and based on the sighs upon exiting the auditorium following Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021), it’s likely a lot will attest it couldn’t come sooner.

While fun to see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her iconic role from the original John Carpenter film after a 16-year-pause from the character (her last turn as the character in the 2002 weak-sauce sequel Halloween Resurrection), those films lacked the suspense and intrigue that Carpenter’s 1978 classic achieved. Further, some of the horror and dialogue were just butt-pimple ugly.

While the third chapter in David Gordon Green and Blumhouse’s new crop of films – a trilogy that sees Curtis’s heroine, now a grandmother, coming face to face with the monster that’s forever haunted her since her babysitting days – is just as disordered and vacillating as its predecessors, it’s not as half as humdrum or unimaginative as what’s come before. Here, writers Green, Danny McBride, Paul Brad Logan, and Chris Bernier have crafted an overly ambitious hotchpotch of drama, romance, psychological thriller, and of course, horror that departs from the standard template of the traditional Halloween films. Sure, it picks up the story of heroine Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her aggressor Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), but they’ve taken some daring deviations in just where and how that story takes off again.

Biggest surprise to many will be that both Laurie and Michael almost take a backseat to a newly introduced character, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), who after being wrongly pinned for murder  – in a very impressive opening sequence – slowly transcends from naive innocent to impulsively dangerous young man.

It’s Cunningham’s story marks Ends boldest bullet point, consistently emphasising that anyone has the capability of doing evil things. By fixing on the greyer areas of the human condition, the very un-Halloween-like script goes so far as to suggest that not just out-and-out fruitcakes like Michael have the potential to butcher people – many have an untapped killer hiding inside them. Yup, Eeek.

For the first half of the film, you might even wonder whether you’re watching an adaptation of a Nicholas Spark movie – but scored by John (the soundtrack is killer, to be honest). Then, half-way through, when Myers finally enters the picture, it becomes a more traditional instalment in the 40-plus-year-old series.

Thing is, If Cunnigham’s ‘loss of innocence’ tale doesn’t grab you, and you’re here to see a bloody, slay-happy horror, you’ll be asleep by the time the killing kicks in.

The films biggest strength and weakness is the opposing tones. While it’s unique and refreshing, and there’s blobs of the film will be appreciated more than others – as If segments on a sketch series – as a complete package it doesn’t necessarily work. All signs point to a film that’s been tested, tinkered with, and toyed with in post a little too much. The backlash of the last previous film in the trilogy, Halloween Kills, likely had the marketing team scurrying to salvage this instalment. Whether they did or not will be answered on Metacritic.

Performance-wise, even if she’s taking a backseat to Carpenter movie homages and ‘Corey’, the always-dependable Carpenter still carves a mean pumpkin and gives a strong performance as the long-suffering Laurie, though audiences may feel let down by her big, final (?) come-together with Myers (There’s been Scream sequel finales that have packed more surprise and suspense).

Andi Matichak is excellent as Strode’s granddaughter Allyson, becoming more of a headline fixture here than on-screen nan Curtis, and her scenes with newcomer Campbell, as Cunningham, have some pop. He too, in what’s a difficult role, shows a lot of promise at times – a performance resembling young Patrick Dempsey by way of Mickey Knox.

In a 2021 interview with producer Jason Blum, he suggested he might have interest in rebooting Halloween III : Season of the Witch – you’ll recall it as the once controversial chapter that didn’t even feature Michael Myers!- one day. I believe that day has come, as that’s essentially what Halloween Ends is – an odd but unique stand-alone chapter that just happens to bare the same title as a popular slasher movie icon series.

One of the most unique and imaginative Halloween films since the Carpenter original, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a winner.  For me, Strode’s true story played out in the alternate timeline of the far more successful Halloween H20 – in 1998. Like it, heads roll here, but sadly, they’re likely going to be all offscreen in the Blumhouse writing department.

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