⭐⭐½ (2½ stars out of 5)
Halloween Ends (2022) Directed by David Gordon Green
When you become fully cognizant that Halloween Ends, the final chapter of David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy and speculatively the culmination of the franchise, is the most eccentric and heteroclite film in the Halloween series, that’s when you realize that it will be the most divisive and caustically lambasted sequel precisely because of that hyperbolic creative penchant for the bizarre.
Apparently Halloween Ends wants to obey its own instinct in accordance with the audience’s wishes, although more than its audience let’s define them as its unconditional fans, on the surface this over-ambitious production seeks to exert in its dynamics what its audience clamored in the previous films, it elaborates an experimental plan to grant them their wishes but the surprising and ironic fact is that it does not necessarily fulfill their desires to the letter; rather it completely changes direction offering the authenticity they asked for but in a language dissimilar to the idiomatic slasher cinema.
An intrepid venture of this caliber delivers immensely misguided results, yet I also don’t think you can judge this film based on a product that patently relies on satisfying all the complaints that audiences had with almost every sequel in the Halloween franchise. In effect, Halloween Ends validates its existence thanks to the acrimonious voices that expected something different from Halloween, the fact that it is not appreciated has a lot to do with the pseudo intellectual cranks that made the filmmakers of this trilogy believe that listening to their inimical advice was the right thing to do, well then, here is the answer to their petitions; you wanted something extraordinarily distinct? Here it is. Therefore, Halloween Ends is not as bad as its most vitriolic detractors say it is, but neither is it as good as its most fervent defenders say it is.
But let’s not generalize, this film contains copious demerits to have earned so much animosity from an overwhelming majority of the audience, however we should not go off on a tangent. Director David Gordon Green proposes a series of storytelling peculiarities that while losing sharp focus on the practical modus operandi of slasher cinema, from my perspective this is still a Halloween film no matter how alienated it is from the protagonist’s mystique surrounding the shadow of Michael Myers. To say that slasher cinema has a mechanical dependency on its psychotic killers as an elemental part of constructing a narrative is like saying that comedy is subordinated to gags in order to deliver laughs, these are pure fabrications, there is nothing that stipulates how slasher cinema must operate, it must meet certain requirements but it must not exclusively be about the archetypal. The moody writing takes the opportunity to explore a territory with new, if unnecessarily convoluted, concepts that dramatically allow for an exchange of the typical Michael Myers-centrism for a more wide-open examination of the effects he has left on people or how his influence, his destructive mark, is more lethal than his presence itself. Independently of whether Michael Myers should have had a greater physical presence in the film or not, what is transcendent here and what should be most prominent in the discussion is that the film makes it clear that this is the story about the impact of the myth on Haddonfield but not about the myth per se.
The mutation that this trilogy suffers since Halloween (2018) is that it adopts a rather splintered pattern of narrative development, too isolated to be considered films that have a uniform continuity. Each one is committed to materialize individualistic narratives, which do not grant any material for the following ones to be worked in sequel tone. The only logical nexus these films share are their characters, nothing more.
The nucleus of the controversy in Halloween Ends is that we have a new protagonist who psychologically and physically is an old-fashioned hodgepodge of assorted personalities of classic 80’s horror movie characters compacted into a single character. The filmmakers focus all their efforts on transforming Halloween and its rhetorical conception of evil into something more ethereal and fuzzy, to consolidate this they obsessively concentrate all the attention of the story in orbit around this curious character. The traditional characters still have a notorious relevance but they are no longer given a narcissistic priority to the point of making the other secondary characters insignificant, now that arrogance is transposed to dedicate exclusive time to the psychology of the new character. Ominous, dizzying, stupid or flexibly didactic, call it what you will, but the restless psychoanalysis that conjures the magnetization of muddled ideas is incredibly interesting for the praxis of horror cinema; and personally I think that in Halloween Ends there is a willful perversity that densifies an atmosphere full of irrepressible neuroticism, depressive nihilism, and deep miserabilism in the whole town of Haddonfield that I find uniquely dark.
In Haddonfield 2019, Corey Cunningham played by Rohan Campbell is babysitting a boy named Jeremy, who pulls a prank by locking him in the attic to scare him. Just as Jeremy’s parents arrive home, Corey desperate from the claustrophobia of his confinement in that attic violently opens the door with a strong kick ending up accidentally hitting Jeremy with it causing him to fall off the balcony to his death. Corey is accused of intentionally killing Jeremy, but is acquitted of negligent homicide. Three years after the horrific tragedy, the now fearful, susceptible, and despondent town of Haddonfield, Illinois, is still recovering from the aftermath of the latest wave of Michael Myers murders, while Michael Myers has enigmatically disappeared. Laurie Strode played by Jamie Lee Curtis, is writing her memoirs, bought a new house and is living with Allyson played by Andi Matichak, her granddaughter, since Allyson’s mother and Laurie’s daughter Karen was killed by Michael. Meanwhile, Corey is now working at his uncle’s junkyard, people are hostile to him and give him infamous nicknames that judge him as the intentional perpetrator of the crime of the child he was babysitting.
This film that ends David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy is cohesive with a coming-of-age plot design rather than a slasher, that is further established when we see Halloween Ends as a slasher-style coming-of-age rather than a normative Halloween film, however there are many parallels within the clunky contrivances that intervene antagonistically to do the opposite, I know it sounds tediously complex, but if we really consider that this film is like an outlandish, non-traditional version of the customs instilled by the sequels in the Halloween franchise, I feel it could be seen as a distinctly autonomous film in its vision of Halloween. How about obviating that it’s part of a trilogy and seeing it as a sovereign Halloween film, with no sequel to commit it to being judged as a completion or continuation of another film. I really wish that had been the overall blueprint for these films, to have made solitary unrelated installments. Lamentably, Halloween Ends evokes so much of the idiocy of all the sequels that preceded it, that I find it difficult, quasi-utopian to say that it works as a sequel, as a stand-alone film perhaps, but ironically it was not conceived that way.
Halloween Ends prophesies that nothing good will come out of the inevitable sequels that we know will come at some point in the future. Even so, it’s important to give credit to this failed film for having the robust determination to attempt something thoroughly bizarre within the conventional lexicon of cinema, David Gordon Green leaves me with the perception that he is a filmmaker willing to try new ideas even if these never unfold with the best forcefulness, as an objective fact we can say that at least this trilogy has its own signature, like the vulgarly ugly and morbid Halloween films of Rob Zombie, they are sequels that live in their own world and we can differentiate them from the heap. Halloween Ends is gimmicky when irrationality pervades its filmic spaces, it’s awkward and forced when the artifice of juvenile romance becomes ubiquitous, and it’s intriguing when its narrative non sequitur begins to make a modicum of “sense”.