“And thank goodness for that,” you might say on reading the title, especially after suffering through 2018’s Halloween Kills. That sorry effort – the second instalment in David Gordon Green’s legacy trilogy, and the 12th in the overall franchise – was for many a low-action, scare-free, Laurie-lite dud, a stain on the boiler suit of John Carpenter’s original streamlined suspenser that helped Shape the slasher genre.
Thankfully, this third/13th effort is an improvement, despite outbreaks of dire-logue and the kind of dumb behaviour that gives horror movies a bad name. It starts on Halloween night in 2019, a year after every man, woman, child, dog and goldfish in Haddonfield rose up to fight Michael Myers in Kills.
A terrible tragedy befalls “ugly-ass boy babysitter” Corey (Rohan Campbell) and his charge. When we then leap forward four years, Corey’s an ostracised figure – a bogeyman, if you will. He’s offered a chance of redemption when Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) hooks him up with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). But you can be sure any swelling happiness will burst like a heart on a knife with Michael (James Jude Courtney) lurking in the shadows…
Kills commented none too subtly on the perils of division and fear and mob mentality. Ends likewise opts for subtext with its scares as it weighs control and choices against chaos and capital-F Fate. Themes of blame, guilt and forgiveness are sliced and diced as Green sifts for meaning in the innards, like a haruspex of old.
What is it that makes a monster? The action goes in unexpected directions in search of answers, offering the franchise’s biggest departure from straight stalk ‘n’ slash since Halloween III: Season of the Witch dumped Michael altogether. Corey and Allyson’s outsider, live-by-night romance at times feels like Caleb and Mae in Near Dark, while there’s a hint of Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets in the way the film contrasts monsters old and new, supernatural and real.
Fans, naturally, might simply want what they came for, and leave licking wounds. But they should be partially sated by some grisly kills and nods to Carpenter classics Christine and The Thing. And besides, let’s not fool ourselves that it really ends here. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was followed a year later by Friday the 13th: A New Beginning...
Halloween Ends reaches cinemas and Peacock streaming service in the US on October 14. For more, check out the best horror movies of all time.