Warning very mild spoilers for Halloween Ends ahead. OK, this isn’t the best way to start what I promise will be a broadly positive review, but Halloween Ends is not a good horror movie. It’s not suspenseful, scary, or even the slightest bit atmospheric. Even worse, the horror series‘ main villain, the alabaster-faced Michael Myers, is barely in the damned thing.
Yet, despite all that, I had an absolute blast with Halloween Ends and not in a jaded, ironic kind of way. No, the best way to describe it is sitting down for what you think will be a slap-up three-course meal prepared by a Michelin-star chef, and then when the waiter lifts the lid on your meal, you find out you’ve actually been served unlimited ice cream. Sure it’s not what you thought you were going to get, but who doesn’t love ice cream?
And the ice cream, in this admittedly rather convoluted and bloated metaphor, is a wonderfully entertaining and gory comedy movie that plays with your expectations of what a Halloween movie can be. Honestly, I cannot believe David Gordon Green was allowed to make this, but we’ll get to that.
Set four years after the events of Halloween Kills, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Allyson (Andi Matichak) are trying to move on with their lives, and, for the most part, they’ve succeeded. Michael hasn’t been seen in years, Laurie has stopped drinking, and Allison seems to be getting over her parent’s brutal murders.
Yet under the surface, Haddonfield and the people who call it home are living with an infection. It’s a darkness that corrupts everything in their lives, and it can never truly be expunged until Michael Myers is no more. Then one Halloween night, the killings start again.
Can Laurie, Allyson, and the residents of Haddonfield be free of this curse? Well, we don’t want to spoil too much for you, so we’re not going to say anymore, but needless to say, there’s a small clue in the title.
The first thing you need to do when going to see Halloween Ends is drop any expectation that you’re going to be scared. While the first film in Green’s trilogy was a slasher, we saw with Halloween Kills the series evolve into more of an action movie. In the final instalment in his trilogy, though, things take a very left-wing turn into overt comedy.
Alright, parody might be a bit far. This isn’t exactly Scary Movie, but it is definitely acutely aware and, dare I say, playing with what audiences think a Halloween movie should be able to do, and it has an awful lot of fun subverting those expectations.
It’s difficult to explain without spoiling things, but almost from the moment it began, Halloween Ends is teasing those people who think they know exactly how these types of movies play out. In a shockingly bold move for a franchise with such an ingrained formula.
It’s quite brave, in a mildly self-destructive way, to reinvent your series in the final chapter, and I think that’s to be lauded, especially when we know how stale the slasher genre can get. Now it won’t work for everyone. There were several critics sat in my row who hated this film, but I loved it for how weird and wonderful the film was willing to be.
Of the principal cast, Curtis, in particular, seems the most aware of what the film’s doing, and she clearly relishes getting her teeth into a slightly less traumatised version of Laurie. Does it align with the previous version of the character we saw in Halloween Kills? Absolutely not, but Curtis has the charisma to pull off the transition.
Now all of this isn’t to say that Halloween Ends doesn’t embrace some of the series’ ingrained tropes. There are plenty of grisly kills, brutal bludgeonings, and at least one scene of a blow torch being used in a way that would definitely void the warranty.
The final act, in particular, is an absolute fountain of viscera and gore that’ll go down as one of the gnarliest endings in any Halloween film that’ll leave long-term fans shocked and delighted.
Of course, on an intellectual level, I can understand why people don’t like Halloween Ends. It probably throws away too much of what made this revival series work for it to work for everyone.
There’s no real deeper meaning to the violence beyond some surface-level stuff about intergenerational trauma, it takes way too long to get to the kills, and some of the lines are so bad it’s like they’re placeholders left in from a first draft someone forgot to delete.
Worst of all, John Carpenter’s iconic score is completely lost in some pretty poor sound mixing. Now it’s worth saying that there were technical difficulties at our press screening that meant the sound was an issue during the first 15 minutes, but even after a reset, I couldn’t hear the gorgeous music over the characters yelling and screaming.
And yet, despite all that, I found it a decent popcorn movie, and I can’t wait to watch it again. What can I say? I just enjoyed laughing, cheering, and even occasionally yelling along with the audience. So, all in all, my heart says four stars, but my head says two stars. Let’s call it a three?
Halloween Ends (2022) review
Weird and thoroughly entertaining Halloween Ends won’t be for everyone, but those who like it will love it.