"Halloween Ends" Review

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Halloween Ends Review

"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

-T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Line of dripping blood.

Following on the heels of two masterful movies that partially rebooted and wholly reinvograted the Halloween franchise by correcting the flaws of their predecessors and weaving a riveting a new tale for The Shape and Laurie, Halloween Ends proceeds to utterly ignore what came before it and drunkenly drive the franchise into a muddy ditch.

Despite being the final entry in a series of sequels to one of the most legendary horror movies of all time, the only horror present in Ends, is the horror of what it has done to Halloween's reputation. It usually takes a major political election for so much goodwill to be built-up and summarily squandered into nothing.

This movie is such garbage that I am not even sure where to begin. It completely disregards the plot points and development in the past two movies and utterly side-lines popular characters (including, most unforgivably, The Shape himself), in favour of writing a bizarre psychological horror about a poorly-written brand new character who inexplicably goes insane and turns into a second Michael Myers overnight. Michael himself only makes sporadic cameo appearances before finally appearing at the end just to die a humiliating and nonsensical death. More on all of this later.

At the root of this movie's endless stream of flaws, which I will delve into in detail, is that it's not a Halloween movie in anything but name; it's a Christine movie awkwardly cobbled together from Halloween characters which are thoughtlessly squeezed like pawns into whatever roles they need to be in, consistency and coherency be damned.

This is not hyperbole on any level; the director, David Gordon Green himself compared the movie to Christine and admitted to being inspired by it. And when you examine the plots of the two movies, the similiarities are uncanny, right down to the antagonist's names (Corey Cunningham vs. Arnie Cunningham in Halloween Ends and Christine respectively.)

For those unaware, Christine is a horror movie about a murderous supernatural car named Christine that befriends a meek and bespectacled teenage boy and turns him into a confident but mentally ill man who discards his glasses, strikes up a relationship with a pretty woman, and joins in on Christine's murderous proclivities before the two of them are killed.

Halloween Ends, on the other hand, is a horror movie about a murderous supernatural man named Michael that befriends a meek and bespectacled teenage boy and turns him into a confident but mentally ill man who discards his glasses, strikes up a relationship with a pretty woman, and joins in on Michael's murderous proclivities before the two of them are killed.

Indeed, even Christine's mysterious initial kills and maimings, such as crushing a worker's hand via slamming its hood down in what appears at first to be an accident, seem to worm their way into Halloween Ends as Corey is inexplicably followed by more gruesome accidents than the child in The Omen, including somehow smashing a glass bottle with his hands and spraying an assailant with it, to accidentally killing a child he was babysitting.

I looked up ratings for this movie after I finished watching and saw that it was sitting at an astounding 38%. I can only assume that 2/5ths of the audience fell asleep waiting for Michael Myers to finally make an appearance and had pleasant dreams for the remainder of the flick. Perhaps not pleasant dreams, but almost certainly more coherent than whatever this movie was.

The attempts at character development in this movie are so far-fetched so as to be absolutely hilarious. Laurie Strode is the most notable example, with her character arc appearing to have accidentally been written backwards; her encounter with Michael in 1978 was shown in the 2018 sequel to have transformed her into a paranoid and trauma-riddled shut-in and survivalist, something that persisted even after 40 years of Michael consistently being in captivity.

But as Ends shows, Laurie, after encountering Michael yet again in 2018/Kills, nearly dying, and losing her daughter and her friends to Michael before he disappears into the night, has now completely moved on and forced herself to forget The Shape and live a carefree life in a new house with her granddaughter Allyson, as the only two survivors of the Strode lineage, even putting decorations up for Halloween, the day that previously drove her to drink to calm her frazzled nerves. Apparently she considers him to be far more of a threat when he's chained up in a cell than when he's out prowling the streets.

As bad as Laurie is treated, however, the copycat killer, Corey Cunningham, is the one that truly gets the brunt of the awful character development. Introduced as a pacifistic 21 year old man who is meek enough to be successfully bullied by random school-children, and who accidentally kills Jeremy, a child he is babysitting after causing him to fall down a staircase via unknowingly opening a door that the child was standing behind.

After being assaulted and left for dead by members of a high school marching band, he is dragged into the sewer where Michael Myers is hiding by a crazed hobo. Michael finds him and begins strangling him to death, before making eye contact with him and releasing him. A terrified Corey stumbles out of the sewer before being assaulted by the hobo, who demands to know how he survived, claims that he is the real Michael Myers, demands that he return into the sewer and steal The Shape's mask, and then proceeds to attempt to stab him.

In the midst of the scuffle, Corey stabs the hobo in the chest with his own knife, killing him. He immediately runs home, and barricades himself in the bathroom, overcome with horror over what he just did. His guilt does not seem to last very long, as, before we know it, he lures Allyson's drunken ex-boyfriend into the sewer and kills him with Michael's help. He then teams up with Michael to kill Allyson's perverted elderly boss and his young girlfriend, before turning on Michael, stealing his mask, and going on a rampage across Haddonfield, killing numerous people including his own mother.

The idea of Michael Myers making a friend is fascinating and a concept I admittedly squeed over when I first saw it in action, viewing it as an opportunity to finally get a glimpse into the enigmatic Shape's psyche. Lamentably, character development in this movie is as wayward as a drunk person erratically driving on an icy road at night with their headlights off, and the movie awkwardly skips back and forth from one thing to another with no explanation.

We are never shown why Michael Myers went from trying to strangle Corey to acting as a father figure to him and even assisting in allegedly avenging Allyson being passed over for promotion due to her co-worker putting out for her boss (I presume this is what spurred the doctor/nurse murders, since all of Corey's other kills were out of revenge.) Similiarly, we are given no insight as to what exactly causes Corey to go from fawning over Michael as the father he desperately needs to viewing him as "just a man in a Halloween mask."

The aforementioned death of the child that Corey was babysitting is shown in a flashback when Michael locks eyes with Corey, hinting that he felt that Corey was a kindred spirit. That would be all fine and dandy if it wasn't for the fact that Corey had no actual intention of hurting Jeremy and clearly felt intense remorse over what he did. Michael Myers certainly did not feel any sort of kinship with the lynch mob that willfully tormented an innocent man, Tavoli, into committing suicide previously, nor did he hesitate at all to kill Sartain after he attempted to murder Hawkins.

Also unexplained is how exactly Corey not only descended into a remorseless serial killer at such breakneck speed, but how he absorbed Michael's prowess at killing, especially given that Michael is still mute and unable to teach him. Despite being previously unable to defend himself against children even while armed with a knife, we later witness him expertly ambushing and slaughtering people as effectively as The Shape himself

Equally confusingly characterised is the entire Haddonfield police force. In spite of Michael Myers still being at large, the ever-growing trail of bodies that Corey is leaving in his wake, and it being the one day of the year when Michael is ever truly active, there appears to be zero law enforcement presence in Haddonfield until Laurie calls the police to report her "suicide", in an attempt to ambush Corey, who decides to conclude his rampage by slaughtering her for warning Allyson about dating him

This is where I remind the reader that Michael Myers had previously gone on two killing sprees, the latter of which led to over 50 people being killed in one night, and the police had already braved an infuriated mob in the previous movie over their failures to take The Shape seriously. Halloween II, 4, 5, 2018, and Kills had all previously tackled the idea of Michael working around a law enforcement manhunt for him, so why is this movie so utterly incapable of broaching the subject?

Laurie, of course, picks up on Corey's rapid descent into the darkness, but despite being heralded as the voice of wisdom in the previous movie, even Allyson refuses to take anything she says seriously, falling head-over-heels for Corey despite everything, up until the last moment of the climax. These sort of harebrained decisions are why I feel that this is a movie from an entirely different franchise that the current Halloween cast was awkwardly squeezed into like square pegs into round holes.

Of course, it wouldn't be a low-grade horror movie without a thoroughly unlikable cast of side-characters whose entire purpose is to infuriate the viewer before the killer cathartically kills them (Halloween 5 says hi), and Halloween Ends certainly does not slack in this department.

From the aforementioned band geeks who repeatedly harass Corey, baselessly accuse him of being a paedophile, break his glasses, and attempt to throw him to his death; to an irritating asshole DJ with the IQ of a mouse turd; to a perverted doctor who coerces a young woman into sleeping with him for a promotion; to Corey's abusive, pathologically clingy, and possibly incestuous mother; Haddonfield is just handing out reasons for someone to pick up where Michael left off like they're Halloween candy.

In shades of Halloween 5, some of the best scenes in Halloween Ends simply feature the killer taking thoroughly unlikeable characters out like the trash they are. Corey ambushing and slaughtering the band geeks in the junkyard, and cutting the DJ's tongue off and walking away as it comically dances around on the record player are certainly standouts worth commending.

Although we sadly are not treated to a scene of her being killed, there's an irritatingly nonsensical scene where by the sister of one of Michael's victims who was Laurie's neighbour, angrily lectures Laurie as being at fault for "provoking" Michael towards her home. The fact that Michael wanted nothing more than to go home and was kidnapped by Dr. Sartain and driven over to Laurie's home is conveniently ignored. Despite all of her malice, Laurie did not actually do anything to Michael in Halloween 2018 until he was delivered to her backyard and he promptly woke up and killed Sartain, two police officers, and Laurie's son-in-law.

I am admittedly a massive Michael Myers fan, but I am not above rooting for the protagonists when they're actually likeable. I was certainly rooting for Jamie Lloyd, Rachel Carruthers, and Dr. Loomis in Halloween 4 as they desperately tried to survive in the face of an indomitable and unstoppable Shape that relentlessly and single-mindedly stalked Jamie Lloyd like a T-800 Terminator. In Halloween Ends, quite frankly, all I could root for was Michael Myers, Corey Cunningham (for a while at least), and the ticker that showed how much time was left until the movie was over.

Laurie Strode's character is one that is very hit-or-miss for me from one movie to another, and I most certainly was not a fan of her current incarnation. Beyond the aforementioned nonsensical character arc, I also felt that far too much time was dedicated to her lecturing into the void about the nature of evil and being a survivor of violence. I watch Halloween movies for the atmosphere, kills, and horror, not as a substitute for group therapy.

The absolute low point of the movie for me, Michael Myers' death, is excruciating to watch. Not only is it unnecessarily drawn-out and gorey, being likely the most gruesome death in all 13 movies of the entire franchise, but it is exceedingly pathetic end for such a previously indomitable being.

Despite displaying such durability that he casually walked off impalement, shootings, stabbings, being set on fire, and being ran over by a car, and displaying super-strength sufficient to casually break the barrier in a police car and juice a grown man's skull like a lemon, Michael Myers is inexplicably overpowered by a 65 year old Laurie Strode and has his hands impaled onto a table with knives, as if he is being crucified for the movie's sins, before Laurie casually slits his wrists and his throat with as much urgency as someone watering their cactus.

The fact that a man that previously mowed down armed police officers, firefighters, and a lynch mob of dozens of people is taken down by an old lady is bad enough on its own, but it's made even moreso by the fact that their last encounter left a shotgun-wielding Laurie in the hospital on a ventilator, after she led Michael right into a death trap that she had spent 40 years perfecting. This Laurie was equipped with a kitchen knife and had completely moved on from Michael Myers to live a peaceful, ordinary life before he (and Corey) suddenly darkened her door.

Of course, simply humiliating and gruesomely murdering the titan of the Halloween franchise isn't enough for this wretched movie. After he perishes from Laurie's abuse, the useless sheriff whose only apparent role in the reboot movies is to stand around glaring like an angry military general while contributing zilch to the plot (dear Bast, do I miss Sheriff Meeker from Halloween 4 and 5) finally shows up alongside Frank Hawkins and what appears to be the entire police force. They don't pay much attention to serial killers anymore, but Bast forbid someone calls in threatening to kill themselves.

Immediately afterward, the police and the entire rest of Haddonfield suddenly emerges like a pop-up book (I presume they were all on-call for this for the past 4 years) to join Laurie in a sadistic funeral procession where Michael Myers' body is tied to the top of Laurie's car, driven to a junkyard, and bloodily deposited into an industrial shredder.

Michael is talked down to by both Corey and Laurie about being "just a man in a mask", and it indeed does seem this way. Aside from an exquisite scene where he lifts Allyson's co-worker over his head and stabs her through the wall, Michael is a downright pitiable shell of his former self for reasons that the movie does not deign to address. At various points in the movie, he is taken down with one kick by a drunken lout before being rescued by Corey, overpowered and robbed of his mask by Corey in a sequence deserving of having the Benny Hill theme played on top of it, and, of course, taken down by Laurie.

I should add that being taken out by a drunk does not quite describe how humiliating the scene is. Corey lures the drunk into Michael's sewer after he attempts to sexually harass Allyson and then stalks Corey after he tells him off. Although intending for the mighty Shape to do all of the work, Corey is left having to subdue his prey on his own minus the finishing move, and even has to scream at Michael to get up as The Shape tiredly attempts, and fails, to lift himself up like 400 lb person with two bad knees who accidentally sat down on a waterbed. He then slowly and clumsily stumbles towards his trapped prey like a feckless zombie.

To the movie's credit, it does seem to vaguely imply that killing people gives Michael Myers strength, which would explain why he is so decrepit. This was also implied in the ending of Halloween Kills by Laurie. This explanation is wholly snuffed out by three facts, however:

  1. Michael had been locked up in Smith's Grove from 1963 and 1978, and then again from 1978 to 2018. On one hand, he had already killed two people in 1978 before showing any unusual strength, and had killed four before infamously walking away from being shot six times. However, in 2018 (written by the same people that wrote Ends) he was immediately able to overpower and severely wound a police officer and hijack the prison bus, before walking to a nearby gas station and tearing a man's entire jaw off with his bare hands.
  2. The crazed hobo living outside of the entrance to The Shape's sewer explicitly says that Michael has been taking people into the sewer and killing them periodically. So he has been killing infinitely more people per year in the past 4 years than he's been killing during his 15 and 40 year stays at Smith's Grove.
  3. The director, David Gordon Green, himself said in an interview that Laurie's remarks about Michael deriving strength from killing are just the character's personal theory, and explicitly stated that it is not true, even going as far as to outright state that there is nothing supernatural about Michael and that he is simply a man capable of spectacular feats.

The reason the final battle leaves such a sour note is because it isn't a David vs. Goliath situation like it should be, where a hero(ine) miraculously triumphs over impossible odds. This is a staged safari hunt where some wealthy tourist gets to put down a helpless, trapped, limping animal so they can go home and jerk themselves off about it. I wanted to say that this movie was a third-rate retread of (the already quite mediocre) Halloween H20, but that would be unnecessarily bullying the latter movie.

For all of its many faults, H20 was at least able to recall who the pivotal character of the Halloween franchise is, and was able to develop characters in believably human ways. It, too humiliated Michael Myers by demoting him into a comical and inept shell of his former self in the interests of having a lone woman armed with naught but a kitchen knife being able to realistically take him down, but at least the ending wasn't quite as degrading, and Michael Myers was able to do something beyond mentoring an ungrateful, schizo brat.

As a side-note, devoted Halloween fans may have raised an eyebrow over me calling the nurse stabbing scene exquisite, noting that it sounds like a blatant retread to Michael killing Bob in the original movie. That is exactly what it is, but between the terrific OST, how well it was shot, and how utterly unexpected it is (the woman narrowly locks Corey out and starts dialing the police, and we are given no clues that Michael is present with Corey before he suddenly appears and grabs her). The fact that the high-point of the movie was ripped straight from another movie in the series speaks volumes.

The deplorable treatment of Michael Myers is the most painful aspect of the movie for me, and it began to sting even more deeply after realising that this could have potentially been a good movie if he (and the Halloween mythos) were removed and the time spent on him was used to better develop Corey and the other characters.

The basic premise of a mentally ill young man with a troubled past entering a relationship with the granddaughter of an assault survivor and seducing her into ignoring the ever-growing warning signs, until the grandmother herself realises how far gone he is and personally steps in to put him down before he can add her and her granddaughter to his list of kills, works perfectly. Take away The Shape and the pre-existing characterisations of Allyson, Laurie, and co, and this could have been worth a watch.

As it is, I suspect that Green wanted to either film a Christine remake but did not have the rights, or he wanted to do an entirely new movie but was worried about how it would sell, and thus chose to clumsily shoehorn his story into Halloween to guarantee that devoted fans of the franchise would tune in.

Alas, much like Hellraiser 7: Deader, an utterly incoherent PCP trip that has zilch to do with the franchise until a brief moment at the end where Pinhead peeks his head in just to see how things are going and to justify his actor's paycheque, Michael Myers feels so artificially, and pointlessly, shoe-horned into what is clearly Corey and Laurie's movie, that he may as well be a mall Santa showing up for duty at a funeral in Saudi Arabia in April.

The once proud Shape has no real purpose in this movie besides providing an excuse for why everyone in Haddonfield is a mentally ill jackass, providing an excuse for Corey to go from a meek pacifist to a serial killer in less time than it takes people to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for their relatives, and finally dying a slow and humiliating death to fulfill Laurie Strode's masturbatory fantasy.

What makes this movie even more irredeemable is how massively misleading all of the marketing for it was, as well as the themes that the previous movies appeared to be building towards. Throughout all of the trailers and statements that were released about the movie, Corey, the most prominent character in the movie, was barely shown or even hinted at existing. Instead, fans were regaled with tall tales of a movie centered around Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, with the final trailer even repeatedly stating that Michael's motives would finally be revealed. Right then.

The movie ends with Laurie sitting in her home and wrapping up her memoir. "The mysteries were put to bed," she says as she makes her final remarks. Clearly, Laurie has been watching a different movie than the rest of us, since Ends did not even make a vague attempt at solving any of the mysteries that the previous movies in the franchise have put forth.

Obviously, Michael Myers' superhuman abilities, which were present from the very first movie in the franchise, were callously disregarded in favour of making him a regular human, but the motives behind his behaviours were left as shrouded as they ever were. Despite the pathos of Corey providing ample opportunity for a look at how Michael became the way he was, and the previous installment clearly building up to this, as I covered in my analysis of Halloween Kills, the movie does not deign to even briefly broach the subject.

Michael Myers' lifelong tendency to return to his childhood home and stare out of Judith's bedroom window? Not only was it never mentioned, but the start of the movie even revealed that his house was demolished! (I really need to get better at reading red flags...) How Michael Myers escaped detection and kept himself fed and alive for 4 years? We're shown that he's been hiding in a walk-in sewer that has rats living in it, and are left to presume both that he's been subsisting on rat flesh, and that Haddonfield's police department is staffed entirely with germaphobes.

Most of the revelations about Michael Myers' psyche came from Officer Hawkins in Halloween Kills, who intuited that Michael was a feral six-year-old boy in a man's body, trying desperately to return to his childhood home for reasons unknown. Hawkins was implied to have been murdered in the previous movie after he was repeatedly stabbed in the throat by Dr. Sartain and then run over by a car, so presumably it was quite important for him to survive and make those revelations in the next movie, or at least to do something in Ends.

Neither turn out to be the case. Not only did Hawkins' exposition in Kills go nowhere, but he has no real role in Ends either, showing up briefly to make extremely uncharacteristically awkward smalltalk with Laurie at the store before re-emerging as part of the lynch mob that shows up to watch Michael's body be destroyed and providing moral encouragement to Laurie afterward. I am drawn to wonder if the character would not have been better off dying in 2018.

I should add that the mystery of Michael's life-long draw towards his sister's bedroom window is a theme that came up over and over in Halloween Kills, from the beginning of the movie all the way up to the literal final scene, and it was never actually explained. It seems apparent that he is confused mentally ill person trying to find his parents again, but viewers were left waiting until this movie for an explanation.

David Green did broach the subject in an interview, stating that "He’s not personally motivated to kill a person, but he does have a beacon to go home. If you even think of the tagline from the original film: 'The night He came home.' It's about a homecoming. There's that stunted growth of a six-year-old boy who was taken from his home and institutionalized. And there’s something that draws him back home. There's a significance to this place."

I had my reservations when the movie opened up with Laurie monologuing about how Michael Myers is "the personification of evil", but was hopeful that things would develop and we would get a more nuanced exploration of the man's psyche. Alas. Ironically, while Halloween Kills was meant to be nothing but a slasher movie taken to its logical extreme, and Halloween Ends was meant to be the slower, thought-provoking movie, the former did more to develop Michael into an interesting character in one scene than the latter did in 2 hours.

Despite the movie's flaws, I will admit that the soundtrack is wonderfully done, as is to be expected of John Carpenter. The opening theme and the scene where Michael kills the doctor's girlfriend especially stand out, and I wound up purchasing the OST as I did with the ones from the previous movies. The other ones I got simply because I adore listening to them, but in this case, I also want to be able to return to the only redeeming aspect of the movie without having to force myself to actually watch it.

Since this is the theoretical end of the franchise, I thought I'd end this review with my personal ranking of all of the Halloween movies I have watched. I may adjust it a tad eventually, as I am admittedly quite livid right now over being so let down by a movie I have been anticipating and speculating about for oh so long. The ones marked in yellow are ones I would say are must-watches, the ones in orange are good movies but not necessities, the ones in red are mediocre and best skipped, and the ones in maroon are only worth watching if you are an arthropod seeking an excuse to feel intellectually superior to humans.

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
  3. Halloween Kills
  4. Halloween II
  5. Halloween (2018)
  6. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer's Cut)
  7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
  8. Halloween H20
  9. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
  10. Halloween Ends
  11. Halloween Resurrection
The original Cult of Thorn timeline certainly made a number of disheartening mistakes that hurt the story, most notably Laurie being revealed as Michael's long-lost sister in II, and Michael Myers' abilities and bloodlust being revealed as being the byproduct of an ancient Druid cult in the Producer's Cut of Halloween 6 and genetic engineering in the theatrical cut of the movie. I most certainly am not going to humiliate myself by attempting to argue that those movies were cinematic masterpieces, nor will I slander Halloween 2018 and Halloween Kills for the sins of their successor.

However I will dare to argue that, when taken as a whole, the original Cult of Thorn timeline is once again the most enjoyable route in the Halloween universe to watch (at least, with the Producer's Cut of 6). 5 and 6 are undeniably flawed movies, but they have enough charm and atmosphere to get you through, with multiple likeable protagonists worth rooting for.

I have watched the original movies many times throughout my childhood, and plan to do so again as the Halloween holiday approaches this year. And while I will certainly also view the previous two movies in the new trilogy in the future, I am content to never view Halloween Ends, and to simply let its memory slowly fade away in my brain like a particularly rancid fart.