Entertainment Column: “Halloween Ends” slashes all preconceptions and becomes one of the series’ best

October 31, 2022

There are very few franchises that have maintained their grip on pop culture like “Halloween” has. Since the original film terrified audiences in 1978, the series has seen 12 sequels, been passed through five production studios, rebooted three times and had nine different directors take a stab at it. 

The series has spanned more than six decades and has seen various drastic departures and returns to form, when concerned with John Carpenter’s original film. While the various ups and downs of “Halloween” are fascinating in their own right, the newest film “Halloween Ends” is easily the most exciting the series has ever felt. “Halloween Ends” is the first time the series has ever definitively stated it was the final film and is also the first time any of the sequels had been planned ahead of time. 

Typically, the sequels were completely dependent on the success of the one before it, resulting in them often feeling disjointed or having huge gaps between films. The longest being nine years between Rob Zombie’s 2009 film, “Halloween II” and David Gordon Green’s 2018 film “Halloween.”

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But David Gordon Green has, by far, been the most ambitious director/writer to helm the series since its start. His first film in the series, 2018’s “Halloween,” was highly unique in that it ignored all the previous sequels, except the original film. It was a huge hit, having the highest gross of any previous film, and was one of the first to ignite the “legacy sequel” craze, in which a long-term franchise is rebooted but maintains the lore of its original film, often containing lots of fan service and reverence for them. 

After the success of “Halloween” in 2018, two more sequels directed by Green were greenlit, “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends.” This had fans curious as to what this trilogy had planned and if it truly would “End” or just continue to pump out sequels, like the franchise always had. 

One pandemic and four years later, we have reached “Halloween Ends.” Released on October 14, the film had built up huge expectations, being tasked with wrapping up a story that had taken place over 40 years. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in the film yet again as Laurie Strode, her most iconic role to date. The film serves as the end to her story, as well as Michael Myers’. 

The film has been largely divisive in the days since it hit theaters. It boasts a notably subversive approach, as an ending and even as a “Halloween” film in general. The film chooses to follow a new character, Corey Cunningham, rather than the expected Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Although, these characters are still present and receive their promised ending. 

This surprising take has a lot of audiences upset with the choice, feeling tricked or cheated. But this couldn’t be farther than the truth of the film’s intention. The way this trilogy can be viewed is that “Halloween” in 2018 was Laurie’s film, “Halloween Kills” was Michael Myers’ and “Halloween Ends” is Haddonfield’s film. Haddonfield, Illinois is the location in which the films take place. 

All three are key components to the original film and nearly every sequel following it. They all have deep importance to the film’s plot itself, as well as the themes of the trilogy. “Halloween Ends” forces the audience to truly contemplate what the series really is about, rather than catering to an easy fan service filled last hurrah. 

Corey Cunningham, played by breakout star Rohan Campbell, serves as a vessel for the evil that lurks in Haddonfield, providing insight and commentary into what collective trauma within a community can do. “Halloween Ends” is by far the most introspective film in the series, opting for broad ideas and questions, rather than the concrete answers some fans expected. 

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While this aspect has frustrated many, this is completely faithful to the thing that makes the original 1978 film work and why it remains effective to this day. “Halloween” has always been about the things that the audience doesn’t know. The more we know about Michael, the less scary he becomes; the more you understand evil, the less evil it seems. Ambiguity and the unknown are at the heart of the series. 

While Green’s trilogy does dive into many aspects of the series that hadn’t been previously explored, the team behind the films always made sure to ride that line very carefully. This, among countless other aspects, makes this trilogy the closest any sequel has gotten to matching up to the original and expanding on it, rather than milking it. 

Beyond its subversive plot and complex themes, “Halloween Ends” still functions as an extremely satisfying and entertaining slasher/horror. The performances were excellent all around, most notably Curtis and Campbell. There’s yet another amazing moody synth score from Carpenter himself along with frightening and gruesome special effects, which will surprise even genre veterans, as well as that signature autumnal Illinois atmosphere that the series was built on. 

“Halloween Ends” is not the movie I, or frankly anyone, expected. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised and ecstatic at the direction it took, trying something truly new and fresh for the series, working as a film on its own, rather than disposable fan service that many similar sequels have fallen into. 

David Gordon Green and his team have crafted a consistently excellent trilogy and something that “Halloween” fans have been starved of for years, true craft and care. “Halloween Ends” challenges its audience but has also, unsurprisingly, exposed the entitlement of its fans and fan culture in general, which in my opinion, needs to happen more often if we want anything to change about the state of filmmaking today.

Rating: 8/10

Staff reporter Zaden Dennis can be reached at [email protected] and you can find his other reviews at letterboxd.com/Zadenator.

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    IanNov 13, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    I absolutely love the take that this is Haddonfield’s movie. This is the first Halloween sequel I’ve seen that gave me a bit of the feeling I had when watching the original. If fans aren’t happy with this one, then they need to loosen the heck up, Jerry! Great article!

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