Well, it’s better than Kills. While Halloween Ends still struggles narratively, I appreciate what David Gordon Green attempted to do in order to add a thoughtfulness to the action plot and diegetic subtext. What we have here is a melodrama maskerading around as a slasher that delivers an insufficient amount of fun and genuine suspense. After the hugely disappointing and largely forgettable (except for how bad it was) Halloween Kills, expectations were set incredibly low for the final installment in Green’s take on the Laurie Strode/Michael story. Thankfully, the final chapter isn’t bad–that’s not to say it’s good–it’s more accurately described as watchable. As an added bonus, there is prolific exposition at the beginning that negates the need to watch Kills, so audiences can go from H40 to Ends and not miss anything, really. Even though there is one distinct kill inspired by, and some other shot compositions and camera movements that pay homage to the 1978 original, none of these moments feel like gross attempts at winning audiences over with pure nostalgia. Halloween Ends continues the trend for horror films, particularly the (what I like to call the) neo-slasher to focus so hard on atmosphere, social commentary, and melodrama that both the fun and suspense layers are so thin that they may as well be non-existent. From Halloween (1978) to SCREAM, the slasher delivered creative kills and icons but it also delivered highly entertaining movies in which we have found thoughtful subtext and social commentary in hindsight. Aside from the wandering narrative direction of Halloween Ends, it suffers from a lack of a demonstrable ability to generate a fun atmosphere for the audience.
Four years after her last encounter with masked killer Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is living with her granddaughter and trying to finish her memoir. Myers hasn’t been seen since, and Laurie finally decides to liberate herself from rage and fear and embrace life. However, when a young man stands accused of murdering a boy that he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that forces Laurie to confront the evil she can’t control.
The boogeyman, no more. “Was that the boogeyman?” –Laurie, “Yes, I believe it was.”–Dr. Loomis. Sorry, Sam, apparently not. In addition to sucking the fun out of the neo-slasher, filmmakers are also removing the boogeyman or monster factor from the killers. Instead of accepting that our killers are monsters that have evil running through their veins, filmmakers feel the need to explain why a monster isn’t a monster; rather, the killer is created by society. Up to Halloween Kills and Ends, you may have asked yourself “what makes Michael tick?” The short answer: we do not know enough–or at least we used to have an insufficient amount of knowledge about–his psychology, sociology, or physiology to know for sure. And that was a good thing! No longer is that the case.
Why? There no longer exists a mystery. Because now we do know too much about his mind and body; therefore, he ceases to be the boogeyman. Being the boogeyman (or a monster) was so important to, not only this franchise, but horror in general. That little bit of mystery and fantasy allowed him (and icons like Michael) to remain monsters that were to be feared and never truly understood or explained. That’s what made them scary–there was no explanation, which mitigates any control may feel we could achieve.
But since we are voyeurs who are obsessed with knowing, David Gordon Green decided that we needed to know why Michael (and those like him) was the way he was. What’s funny, is that in the original 1978 Halloween, the best sequel Halloween H20, and in H40, we can gather enough evidence to hint at what may make him tick, but at the end of the day, it’s fun speculation. Even before we had to have Michael’s behavior (directly or indirectly) explained to us, Michael likely suffered from and displayed signs of a combination of antisocial personality disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. But none of that truly matters any longer because we now know that Michael and those that admire him are created by society’s negative impacts on their young, impressionable lives. True evil is does not exist.
Many fans of the Halloween franchise have a fondness or even love of the (seemingly) one-off Halloween III: Season of the Witch. And while I do not share a particular fondness for this installment, I can appreciate the creativity behind the expression of this tale of Halloween. And maybe if it wasn’t indirectly connected to Halloween, I may like it more. Anyway, I digress. I bring up Season of the Witch, because there are some shared elements between this Halloween movie and Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday and Halloween Ends, And I will leave it at that, as to avoid spoilers. If you’ve seen both of these movies I’ve referenced, then you may be able to make connections.
David Gordon Green and his team of writers inject a heaping helping of melodrama into Halloween Ends. Right up there with melodrama perfectly suited for–you fill in the blank–show on The CW or Freeform. Clearly, this was an attempt at adding some gravitas to this poor excuse for a slasher by spending time on dysfunctional family dynamics. After this trilogy, I am convinced that no family unit is healthy in Haddonfield. Bullies, manic and demanding moms, overbearing and weak fathers, nobody feels real in this town–all caricatures of what we don’t like about some people in society. There is no normal ever established. Establishing a sense of normalcy is important because it’s only then that the slasher can upset the order.
Even though this is the final chapter in the Michael/Laurie story, the movie does tip its hat to future Halloween movies. This is one of those movies that isn’t bad enough to warn people to spend their money and time elsewhere, but it’s also not good enough to where it needs to be seen at the cinema. While I firmly believe that horror movies are best experienced at the cinema in a crowded auditorium, the experience of this one will be good enough at home with some friends.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.
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