The final installment in David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy is every bit as disappointing as you would expect from a team bankrupt of any new ideas. Green’s last chapter in an ever-declining saga pits longtime protagonist and bona fide horror icon Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) against a new evil that terrorizes Haddonfield and brings Michael Myers out of hiding for one final, anticlimactic showdown. While Green’s first installment honored Carpenter’s original vision and reinvigorated the franchise, his latest effort strays miles away from everything that made that film enjoyable. While one can recognize the ambitious choices made in this head-scratching sequel it amounts to little more than a mismatch of poorly-executed ideas and a meandering plot, loosely tied together by a screenplay so trite that one can barely believe it was greenlit at all.
Instead of picking up immediately after the events of its predecessor, Halloween Ends opens its stumbling narrative by introducing a new antagonist. Corey Cunningham (played by the woefully underwhelming Rohan Cambpell) is a babysitter tasked with watching a rambunctious kid while his parents go out for a party on Halloween night, a year after the events of Halloween Kills. But after the kid locks Corey in the attic as part of a fun prank, he has a not-so-fun freak out and kicks the door down, slamming it into the child’s face and knocking him over a staircase where he falls to his death––just in time for his parents to come home and watch it happen. Three years later Cunningham, whose manslaughter acquittal does little to improve his college prospects, now works at his dad’s junkyard and is the town pariah. At the same time Laurie Strode is working on her memoir (which is related to us through exhausting voiceover segments) and living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) in a town still reeling from the trauma inflicted by Michael Myers.
After he’s bullied by a group of marching band kids (yes, you read that right) and discovered by sewer dwelling Michael Myers, Corey gets in touch with his dark side and partners up with the veteran killer for this fall’s most heartwarming love story. The film appears to make a commentary on evil, suggesting that it isn’t something that’s exclusively intrinsic–as is the case with Michael–but rather that it can be born out of circumstance, as we see happen with Corey whose derailed future and constant harassment is the mainspring for his violence. Unfortunately, Campbell’s spastic and poorly executed performance undercuts this theme and make it difficult to empathize with Cunningham’s character.
This semi-ambitious idea is further undermined by Corey and Allyson’s romantic side plot, which feels totally out of place and takes the air out of the entire film. Corey and Allyson bond with each other over their shared alienation. Even though Corey is clearly a homicidal maniac this seems to only drive Allyson deeper into his skinny little t-rex arms––in spite of Laurie’s warnings (shocker!). The whole section feels so out of place for the franchise that you have to stop and wonder if you’re even watching a Halloween film. The screenplay is middling by the most charitable of estimates, but it is this particular segment which is the most cheaply written. It is impossible to overstate how cringey and poorly developed this portion of the story is. For viewers that have followed the trilogy it’s outrageous to think that a character who has been through everything Allyson has been through with her grandmother would be so easily seduced by the charmless Cunningham. Shots of the two riding a motorcycle late-night, holding hands, and talking about “setting the whole town on fire” are so over-the-top ridiculous that they will twist your face into a contemptuous smile if you haven’t already fallen asleep.
The biggest issue this film has is that it is not very good. While Green and the rest of the team behind the trilogy gave us a set of movies that were just good enough to satiate longtime fans and entertain newcomers, the most recent installment does not even meet this standard. The direction comes off as rushed, listless, and uninspired––as if they were trying to rapid release one more film without ever deciding what they wanted that film to be about. As a longtime fan who has found pleasure in nearly all of the films, even the worst ones, this one seems bankrupt of any redeeming qualities. In recent years the Halloween films have made up for poor writing and subpar directing by giving audiences an orgy of violence just entertaining enough for us to forget how bad the films were (here’s looking at you Rob Zombie). But Green’s final chapter in a trilogy that once showed so much promise fails to do even that. Such a shame. Laurie Strode deserves so much better.
Austin Torres is an English major currently finishing his master’s degree on the Literature track at FIU. His pastimes and hobbies include watching films, reading books, painting and swimming.