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Halloween Ends

“Halloween Ends” may not please everyone, but franchise devotees and final girl royalty are treated with the love and respect they deserve.

I just exited an early screening of Halloween Ends, and I’ve got an ample dose of adrenaline coursing through my veins as I write this review.

It’s a review I’m not sure how to write. It’s my job as a film critic to help you make informed decisions about how to spend your valuable time and hard-earned money as you wade through a vast sea of cinematic possibilities. So, I’ll give you what you came for.

But I’ll preface this whole shebang by telling you that much of the unbridled fun and absolute thrill I experienced watching this film came from how delightfully surprising it was. As a result, I’m reluctant to reveal too much for fear of robbing you of an ounce of that joy.

Needless to say, this review will be spoiler free. That means I’m going to coyly flirt with some of the finer points while refraining from going all the way. Call it a tease if you’d like; I prefer to think of it as a seduction.

Ends takes place four years after the events in Halloween Kills.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is living with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) while trying to finish her memoir. She’s doing her best to move on with a lighter heart and a new lease on life. Myers hasn’t been seen since the brutal Halloween night massacre that claimed the life of Laurie’s daughter, Karen (Judy Greer).

Laurie is a breath of fresh air, shedding her take-no-prisoners, tough-as-nails persona built on years of trauma and PTSD and reconnecting with that innocent teenage girl we fell in love with back in 1978.

She’s got a youthful new look (she’s effervescent in this, and it’s an absolute nostalgic joy to see) and a new attitude.

Allyson is working as a nurse at the infamous Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, and she’s surprisingly well-adjusted given what she’s been through. Things aren’t perfect, of course. Her boss is kind of the worst, and her love life is dismal. That is until she meets a cute boy with a troubled past named Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), and sparks fly.

Allyson feels an instant connection with the bullied boy who, like her, can’t seem to escape his haunted Haddonfield legacy.

Of course, Allyson is a Strode, and trouble seems to follow them wherever they go. So, Corey comes with some serious baggage, and his arrival into Allyson’s life causes a rift between her and Laurie, who desperately wants to protect her granddaughter from any hint of danger.

Something about Corey triggers Laurie’s survival instincts, and it appears Haddonfield’s bloody history isn’t quite dead and buried.

That’s all I’m giving up when it comes to plot points, and I know it’s hard to glean much from that bare-bones description. But trust me when I tell you that unpredictability is where this sequel shines.

Ends toys with your expectations and subverts them at every turn in such a sinister and satisfying way.

It’s a wild ride that twists in ways I never saw coming.

And director David Gordan Greene lets you know to expect the unexpected from the opening scene — and, my god, what an opening scene it is! Funny, clever, and jaw-droppingly shocking.

Ok, so what else do you need to need to know without spoiling the experience?

First of all, Curtis is as good as she’s ever been in the franchise, rivaling her performance in HALLOWEEN ’78. For those who hated Kills because it focused so little on Laurie, this should be quite a refreshing palate cleanser. ENDS is extremely Laurie-centric, and the film is much better for it.

The film is also rife with well-executed nods to the original.

It’s not heavy-handed and forced like Kills with all its overt references to previous characters and kills. Here, it’s artful and appropriate, beautifully integrated into specific shots and wardrobe choices. It feels less like blatant fan service and more like a thoughtful love letter to Carpenter’s masterpiece.

The tone of Halloween Kills is much closer to that of the original than the other films in the trilogy — or, really, any of the other franchise films that have come before it.

This is Laurie’s show to steal, but the rest of the cast is more than capable.

Matichak has really matured into her role, stepping into the very big shadow left behind by the extraordinary Greer, and she is easy to root for.

Campbell is a standout as newcomer Corey. He’s got a hefty and pivotal role to play, and he’s riveting to watch. He gave me young Michael Rooker vibes, which, please understand, is quite the compliment.

It’s not a spoiler to tell you that we do get the promised epic showdown between Laurie and Michael, and it’s just as gratifying as we hoped it would be. Like the rest of the film, Green takes this confrontation in a surprising direction, and it’s glorious.

There’s a scene towards the end of the film where, if I hadn’t been in a packed audience, I may have jumped out of my seat and screamed in jubilation.

All I can say is Green, and his writing team (which includes himself, along with Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride), give Jamie Lee’s Laurie the sendoff she so deserves. And I could not be more grateful.

The kills are every bit as brutal and creative as fans expect, though a little more measured and purposeful here than in the savage Halloween Kills.

One kill, in particular, pays direct homage to Halloween ’78, and it’s yet another time I couldn’t contain my excitement. I think I even let out an audible “Yes!” and pumped my fist in the air a little.

One thing Green’s Halloween trilogy has excelled at is positioning Michael as evil personified.

He’s not just a man. He’s the essence of darkness and human suffering, infecting the town and people of Haddonfield well beyond the actual carnage he inflicts and the lives he claims.

Ends expounds on that idea and takes another bold swing at understanding Michael’s motives and raison d’être. Don’t worry. This isn’t the kind of man-turned-monster backstory Rob Zombie infamously attempted with his 2007 re-imagining, much to the dismay of many Halloween fans.

There’s very little explanation. Instead, we get ideas — questions about the nature of evil and its propensity to endure and evolve.

What if Michael isn’t a supernatural boogeyman but a human vessel infected by an evil that can’t be destroyed or contained?

Judging from the audience’s response at my screening, Ends is a real crowd-pleaser. There was a cacophony of gasps, screams, laughter, and cheers. Although it’s possible I just had the pleasure of watching with a particularly fun and impassioned crowd.

Honestly, these days, I expect just about everything this hyped and heavily anticipated to be polarizing. And if you’re one of those “I hope it doesn’t suck” hate watchers, your mileage may vary.

But if you truly love this franchise — if your heart beats faster every time you hear that first note of Carpenter’s iconic score or you get goosebumps every time you silhouette of The Shape — this movie is for you.

It’s a love letter to the fans and to the legacy of a film whose influence on the genre is still felt more than forty years later.

Still, is there any way to slice and dice a sacred cow that gives everyone exactly what they want? I doubt it. And even Curtis herself predicted the film’s ending would likely divide audiences and Halloween devotees.

As she stated in an interview, “It’s going to make people very angry. It’s going to stimulate people. People are going to be agitated by it. And it is a beautiful way to end this trilogy.”

Far be it from me to contradict the queen. She’s absolutely right. It may be messy and may not please everyone, but it is a beautiful ending.

And that brings me to the question that’s on everyone’s lips: Is this really the end?

As promised, my answer for you here will be intentionally coy. Yes and no. Ends does, in fact, deliver a satisfying conclusion that is neither cheap nor a cop-out. It’s an ending that feels earned, and it left me awash with emotion; so sad to say goodbye but so happy it went out with a bang.

Is this chapter in the franchise closed? I believe it is.

But if there’s one thing this franchise has taught us over and over again, it’s that evil never really dies — and neither does any horror property this beloved, influential and iconic.

I, for one, will miss the hell out of seeing Michael Myers on the big screen — for however long it takes to resurrect him. Nothing compares to that. So, do yourself a favor and dance with the devil in Haddonfield one last night.

See Ends in the theater if you can. It’s a film made for the big screen and for experiencing along with a crowd. And no matter how much you think you’re ready for it all to be over, you’re going to miss him when he’s gone.

I know I sure as hell will.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4
Halloween Ends will be released in theaters on October 14, 2022, by Universal Pictures. It will also stream simultaneously on paid tiers of Peacock for 60 days.

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