Halloween Ends review: farewell to the flesh

Halloween Ends
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The Halloween saga comes to an end – we’re told – with Halloween Ends, but it’s not the send-off the franchise deserves.

Panic not if you’re not up to date with the Halloween story so far, as the latest finale to the franchise has you covered. After a decent enough prologue that – this is a spoiler-free review – effectively escalates the threats and unease designed to underpin the movie, we’re quickly back in safe hands. It’s Jamie-Lee Curtis and a cardigan, as Laurie Strode, telling us in full exposition voiceover what’s been going on. We get a bit of a Rocky­-style montage too. We’re all good.

Well, sort of.

As someone who was just about okay with the last one – Halloween Kills – but accepted what everyone else didn’t like about it, the fact that Halloween Ends doesn’t have to tread so much water was still of appeal. This is no middle chapter after all, and it’s in the title. It has to be some kind of final act to it, even if it’s just because Blumhouse’s contract to make these films comes to an end with this one.

But heck, this one’s a slog. And after the way the franchise blasted back to life with the energised 2018 Halloween movie, to see it drag itself across the finish line in this state – flogging some Mountain Dew as it does – is all a bit baffling.

Let’s do the good stuff. Well, Jamie Lee Curtis for a start, as wonderful here as she always is. That said, her screentime is limited, and even a brief liaison with Will Arnett is prescribed precious little space. Although it is firmly ascertained that Patton’s character loves his meat.

Curtis though is savvy enough to maximise her moments, and duly does. She simply has presence. Also, the last 20 minutes or so sees the film finally – finally! – accelerating into something interesting. We get a denouement that brings back the squelch, adds in the humour, and makes tremendous use of a record player.

But it stands out here because very little else does. Director David Gordon Green is evidently no slouch. He deploys his music collection again, this time to varying effect (save, of course, for uses of the original score), and is comfortable leaning into the Carpenter-driven look and sounds of the series from time to time. He also has Laurie Stroud doing a bit of knitting, and writing her memoir in a workable Courier font.

Yet what he fails to land this time is the horror, the threat, and pretty much any sign of humour for the vast majority of the film’s running time. It’s plainly not a spoiler to suggest that Michael Myers has clambered his way back into things again, and explanations are perhaps wisely thin on the ground. But his return takes a long, long time, and there’s not a lot else going on. Much of the film is carried by able performances from Andi Matichak as Allyson and Rohan Campbell as Corey, who find themselves more at the heart of it than either Laurie Strode or Myers. The story also explores the impact of being around someone who’s been involved with, or seemingly attracted, so many premature deaths. It’s just, well, not that entertaining to watch. Even the occasional jump scare is signposted to the point of taking the jolts out of it. It just plays out on the screen, and it becomes less and less interesting as it drags on.

I accept that there was an attempt here to do something less obvious, to not just drag Michael Myers up and have him chasing people around for two hours. The screenplay – credited to Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green – tries to go a little more leftfield and a little deeper than that.

Yet we’re left with a film that lacks life and spark, and makes the ultimate ending feel less like something to look forward, and more like a kindness. The finale is worth sitting through the rest of it for, but your patience is going to be tested.

Jamie Lee Curtis’ cardigan does look comfortable, though.


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