Review: ‘Halloween Ends’ thank goodness

James Jude Courtney in Halloween Ends (Blumhouse Productions)

Really? This is a joke, right?

It has to be.

If there is anything we’ve been able to count on since John Carpenter’s original nightmare-inducing film opened in 1978 is another Halloween sequel, re-make, retcon or whatever you call the mayhem that Michael Myers has visited upon for the last four decades and counting.

Carpenter’s original is a certified classic, and while it might seem a bit bare-bones to filmgoers today, it’s still shockingly effective. More on that in our “Classics Corner” section below.

However, over time Michael Myers has lost his edge even though the films themselves have become more and more brutal and bloody.

I admit I haven’t seen all the “Halloween” oeuvre. I would have skipped this one, too, if there had been another new film opening in our area this week to review.

Slasher horror just isn’t my favored brand of spook show. So take that into consideration if you opt to read on.

This film has been branded as the final showdown between Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ now elderly heroine Laurie Strode. A loser-leave-this-mortal-coil death match, if you will.

Now, this movie is the third part of a sequel trilogy to the original 1978 movie. The trilogy, directed by David Gordon Green, erases all the other Halloween sequels from continuity. Only the first film fits with Green’s three movies.

New in Local Theaters – Oct. 14, 2022

Halloween Ends (R) 1 hr. 41 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight

This film takes place four years after the middle picture which saw the townspeople of Haddonfield, Ill. hunting down Myers to no true avail, while Laurie convalesced in the hospital from injuries suffered in the first part of the trilogy.

The movie opens in a flashback, introducing a new character, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a teenager accused of killing a boy he was babysitting. The child died from a gruesome fall.

Laurie now has physically recovered and is living with her granddaughter Allyson (And Matichak), but she is struggling over Myers’ murder of her daughter in the previous film. She attempts to sort through her trauma by writing her memoir when she meets Corey.

Laurie, who is somewhat of a town pariah as she is blamed for Michael’s last two rampages, befriends the ostracized Corey, although she is a bit leery of him as she gets to know him. She’s particularly concerned when he and Allyson begin dating. Something’s off, and she begins to wonder about how a killer like Myers might be created.

The movie’s pace is leisurely before the explosive climax featuring another battle with Michael that is grisly, gory and brutal.

Astute viewers will catch on to what is developing fairly quickly, and I’m not sure how I feel about what evolves. Thankfully it’s not the kind of movie that will haunt me. I’ll start forgetting about it as soon as I finish this review.

I’ll allow that the movie does broach some interesting ideas, but for a good portion of its running time, the film plods along before finally delivering at least a bit of what I’m guessing most who will buy tickets are wanting to see.

A quicker pace would have reduced the time I had to pick the film apart while I was waiting for something to happen.

If you are a fan of Green’s previous two films in the trilogy, the final battle offers a decent payoff. It’s brutal and gnarly and perhaps offers seeds for the future of “Halloween,” but overall, the movie is a flimsy finale that’s not worth the price of admission. Green could have stopped with the first movie in this trilogy and accomplished as much if not more by continuing on with two more bad to mediocre efforts.

(R) 1 hr. 41 min.

Classic Corner – Halloween (1978)

Tommy Lee Wallace in Halloween (Compass International Pictures)

Some movies define their genres, while others transcend them. I think one can easily argue that “Halloween” does both for the slasher-film category.

Though “Halloween” was made on a shoe-string budget of $300,000, it grossed nearly $170 million when released in 1978, and, as a property, it remains nearly as popular today as it has ever been with ardent horror movie fans.

Like Frankenstein and Dracula before him, Michael Myers has become a cinematic boogey man of the first order, and his popularity no doubt influenced the creation of other big-screen fright masters like Jason Vorhees from the “Friday the 13th” films and Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Director John Carpenter, who also composed and performed the film’s chilling score, succeeded in making Myers an instant horror icon by deftly shooting scenes of the film from the killer’s perspective.

While that is now a horror cliché, Carpenter was the first to do it so creatively, and what an effect it had.

Carpenter paid his respects to director Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Psycho” with the movie, but Myers, while less realistic than Hitchcock’s Norman Bates, is a more intimidating predator because Carpenter reveals less about him than Hitchcock did Bates. Myers seems to be a nearly unstoppable force of nature, while Bates winds up being nearly as pathetic as he is chilling at the end of “Psycho.”

Unlike the scores of slasher films that followed in “Halloween’s” wake, Carpenter relied on suspense rather than solely on gore and violence to propel his film, and the white-knuckled sensation he crafted is what holds “Halloween” above more graphic films that desensitize the viewer by continually upping the ante on the mayhem.

Just as Myers became a pattern for slashers, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode became a fright-film icon as Carpenter’s last girl, or last victim, who survives the attack.

Curtis, whose mother Janet Leigh starred in “Psycho,” masterfully depicts both the fight and the flight instincts as she battles for her life against the brutal and unrelenting Myers.

Carpenter wisely made her the audience’s on-screen surrogate. The film successfully put the viewer into Laurie’s shoes, allowing them to vicariously feel the character’s terror through her performance and her momentary triumph.

What more could one want from a horror movie?