E.L. King says Halloween Ends displays promise with its exploration of evil but ultimately disappoints.
[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS]
Halloween (1978) will always hold a special kind of charm. John Carpenter and Debra Hill created characters that embodied evil and good. Evil met its match in the good's intellect, empathy, and courage to defeat it. The resurgence of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a smart, resourceful, and resilient "final girl," taught us that women could be strong heroines that fight back and refuse to be broken by men, even when the fight is exhausting both physically and emotionally. The man in the mask has represented many things over the years, but above all else, The Shape has represented evil—pure and indiscriminating.
Halloween Ends is a particularly difficult film to critique. While it's a far more enjoyable film than Halloween Kills (2021)—the wonderful Halloween III (1982) nods aside—it wasn't a fitting conclusion to the stories of two beloved and iconic characters. In many respects, its onslaught of writers, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and director David Gordon Green simply didn't do them justice. What audiences get is the introduction of an exciting new character and an aimless tangent from Laurie about the realities of evil. The film's glaring fault is that it fucks with the original, cheapening what we've always been fed about evil. It never dies.
Dr. Sam Loomis stated, "I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil." I believe he also said, "I shot him six times! I shot him in the heart, but... he's not human!" We've been told for decades that Michael Myers wasn't a man, but the manifestation of pure evil, something that cannot be killed, and Ends seeks to prove otherwise.
Despite faults that will no doubt frustrate audiences, the writers present interesting ideas with the character of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) and evil as a contagion. It's an organism living within all of us that needs just the right spark to ignite and never truly dies, not because the body doesn't die, but because evil is infectious. Like a sexually transmitted infection, evil can apparently be transmitted through the simple act of eye-fucking in a sewer. Eye-fucking is all about maintaining a sexy gaze with someone without looking like you're about to murder them—and Corey gives in to evil after one such encounter with Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) beneath the streets of Haddonfield. It's a perplexing moment of queer gaze that had me considering another screening through a queer lens.
Kills brought evil to a head as panic ensued, and mobs chased an innocent man to his death, chanting, "Evil dies tonight!" The trilogy was always building up to the examination of evil as a final nail in its coffin. While the script is a sour candied apple, the film's performances are solid, although Allyson (Andi Matichak) is still a forgettably bland character that doesn't seem to fit the "final girl" mold. However, she's growing on me thanks to the dark side that Corey brings out in her character. Sadly, we don't see Haddonfield's creepiest power couple "burn it to the fucking ground."
While the final chapter of a franchise is an odd time to introduce a central character to audiences, Corey arrives, further complicating the narrative as a false protagonist and secondary antagonist. Corey is like a reboot of Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007), but as a boyishly handsome young man with an intriguing duality to his nature. He's the nerdy babysitter, the boy next door, and a devilish bad boy equipped with a motorcycle, ready to win Allyson's heart. Campbell delivers the standout performance, effortlessly shifting between Corey's two distinct personas of good and evil. However, Campbell also gives us humor, infusing the character with a mischievous and endearing tone, even when he's killing people.
Corey presents a fresh and exciting iteration of evil. However, this time, the Boogeyman has a motivation—get the girl and feed a growing bloodlust. He wants to shed the gloom of being the town pariah and know what it feels like to kill for the thrill of it and for the power that comes with being feared. To the disappointment of audiences, Corey is a trivial red herring in the end that won't rise to take Michael Myer's place as the shape stalking Haddonfield's nightmares. He's merely a distraction filling the film's runtime until Laurie and Michael meet for one final scare.
While its analysis of evil is intriguing, and the film displayed early promise, Halloween Ends fails to build on the concepts it introduces, determined to end Michael Myer's legacy. Corey might have ushered in an age where Halloween anthology films work, with evil as a contagion as the foundation for different stories that are thematically intertwined. Sadly, this notion is washed out with Corey's short-lived reign of terror and perplexing demise.
Halloween Ends is now streaming on Peacock.