The principal question of David Gordon Green’s trilogy-capper “Halloween Ends” is baked right into its seemingly definitive title: It ends? After 13 films, including multiple timelines, confusing continuity, a pair of remakes, one wholly unaffiliated outlier sequel, a run of “re-quels,” and more, the ballad of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode is coming to a close with one last bloody, brutal slasher. And yet the driving force behind Green’s three “Halloween” features has always been at odds with the very idea that any of this could ever end. So, does it? Well, you’ll have to see.
If Green’s “Halloween” was about the corrosive effects of sustained terror on a single family, and his “Halloween Kills” was about how mob justice can’t solve anything, his “Halloween Ends” thrillingly connects those ideas, putting all of beleaguered Haddonfield, Illinois, on display. After decades of horror, of course this once-idyllic small town (and its inhabitants, even those not named “Strode” or “Myers”) remains in the throes of a significant traumatic episode. Violence and trauma and death and pain are “contagious,” we’re told in “Halloween Ends.” They’re “addictive.” And everyone here? They are “infected.”
Ends? Yeah, sure, right.
Green’s third “Halloween” film opens in surprising fashion: without an immediate focus on iconic, enduring final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, riveting as ever) and with a quick flashback to yet another horrifying event that’s mostly unconnected to the saga of Michael Myers. While most of “Halloween Ends” takes place four years after Michael’s last attack (the one that killed Laurie’s only daughter Karen, important catch-up note), the film kicks off with a brutal tragedy that unspooled just one year after Michael last appeared in his hometown. The second a character smirks that “Michael Myers kills babysitters, not kids,” it’s clear that this (final) entry isn’t pulling any punches.
Ryan Green/Universal Pictures
Meet Corey Cunningham (franchise newbie Rohan Campbell), dispatched on Halloween night to watch a local kiddo while his parents enjoy a fancy dress party just down the street. (Of the many questions that “Halloween Ends” asks and answers: Why the hell the good people of Haddonfield still celebrate this sadistic holiday; why anyone stays in this seemingly cursed town; and how so many people have turned a blind eye to the truth to fool themselves into thinking that any of this is normal.) Even without Michael Myers — aka The Shape (played by Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) — literally present, a cloud hangs over the entire town, dark enough to result in the stomach-churning death of yet another innocent.
This time, it’s not the babysitter that gets it, it’s his charge, but Corey’s involvement with the death of a spunky youngster is enough to turn him into his own kind of outcast, an urban legend in his own right, a boogeyman. Sound familiar? He’s not the only one. The film’s eerily discomfiting opening then runs us through a litany of other, Halloween-adjacent deaths (all suicides), making the case that Haddonfield is so very cursed that even people not killed by Michael were still at his mercy.
Not so much for Laurie, who has fought hard to feel she is a “survivor” over the last four years. “Halloween Ends” finds her at her most — dare we say it? — zen. She’s baking. She’s writing her memoirs. She even got a haircut. She’s moved back into Haddonfield proper, where she lives in cozy comfort with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who has endured more than her fair share of pain and only seems able to barely obscure the many ways it’s impacted her. And when Allyson meets Corey, two broken people in a town filled with them, what comes next is both totally shocking and wholly unsurprising.
Ryan Green/Universal Pictures
Green’s film takes its sweet time getting there, however, loping through various interconnected storylines and characters, from Laurie and Allyson to Corey and Lindsey (Kyle Richards), plus a pack of rowdy teens who don’t give a flying fuck about Michael Myers, Corey’s shell-shocked family, the parents of the dead kid, an older homeless man, and Allyson’s badly behaved coworkers at the local emergency room. They’re not the only things that keep popping up. There are also the locations, like Corey’s new place of business (a scrap yard, complete with a metal shredder that seems destined to chew up more than old cars), a creepy sewer pipe under a bridge, and a local radio station manned by a mouthy DJ. Eventually, Green’s script (co-written with Chris Bernier, Paul Brad Logan, and Danny McBride) pulls all these disparate threads into one vicious tapestry.
And once “Halloween Ends” sets out to end, or at least re-contextualize, this horrifying legacy, it does not stop. Longtime franchise fans and newcomers alike will thrill to the inventive, revolting kills that Green and company unspool during the film’s final act, along with a series of clever twists that bring truly fresh blood to this somehow still-chugging franchise. Even more impactful are the choices that Green makes around the film’s mid-point, as he takes the idea that Michael Myers long ago transcended his own name and became something else entirely, something that could infect anyone and everyone in different ways, and pushes it all to mind-bending ends.
Ryan Green/Universal Pictures
Along the way, Green finds the time to elevate Matichak, here appearing in her third “Halloween” film, often turning the film’s attention away from Laurie’s ever-evolving journey to follow Allyson’s quest, which ultimately becomes nothing less than a battle for her soul. If “Halloween” was all about reintroducing Laurie, and “Halloween Kills” was about the pain Karen (Judy Greer) was always trying to overcome, “Halloween Ends” is about how all of that has given us this present-day Allyson, someone who fully understands her pathology and yet can’t entirely escape it. Why does no one ever seem to leave Haddonfield? Look no further than Allyson, the first person who should have hightailed it out of there years ago and yet never quite got to it.
Part love story, part major therapy session, and all chilling, what befalls Allyson and Corey (and, yes, everyone around them) is scarier than nearly anything else this franchise has ever attempted. It will stick with you long after even the film’s wildest kills have faded (and those kills include instantly iconic offerings that hinge on everything from a blowtorch to just, like, a lot of knives), inspiring questions that can never be fully answered. That’s what should keep audiences up at night.
If there is one lesson that “Halloween Ends” — hell, that this entire trilogy, this entire franchise — easily imparts, with blood and guts and terror to spare, it’s that horror never really ends. It just takes a different shape. This story surely will, too, but for now, it’s concluded in fine fashion.
A Universal Pictures release, “Halloween Ends” will hit theaters and start streaming on Peacock on Friday, October 14.