Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Halloween has always been one of the most enduring slasher franchises, reaching entries well into the double digits while other series struggle to even reach five. The timeline is incredibly muddled, but for all the faults, this actually makes Halloween a fun series to rewatch. Think of it like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book: follow whichever version one’s heart desires. David Gordon Green’s trilogy of direct follow-ups to 1978’s horror classic brings back Laurie Strode and her obsession with Michael, ignoring every other entry after the original. Halloween Ends has the weight of the Laurie/Michael rivalry resting on its shoulders, as well as the unenviable task of following up Halloween Kills, the most vicious and brutal entry yet. And just like that, 40+ years of Halloween films have come to an explosive finish—at least, until the inevitable reboot. Halloween Ends closes out a quadrilogy of continuity by taking major swings that will no doubt divide and confound the fanbase. Placing character work before relentless mayhem, Ends is a satisfying, powerful final chapter for the Strode saga.

A Myers-free opening scene set on Halloween in 2019–notably one year after the long night of Michael’s massacre that spanned 2018’s Halloween and Kills—is our first taste of a twisty script from Green, Danny McBride, Chris Bernier, and Paul Brad Logan. Sweet nerd Corey (Rohan Campbell, Hulu’s The Hardy Boys, The 100) bikes over to babysit difficult kid Jeremy. Jeremy’s mother warns that things are difficult for Jeremy since Michael’s spree the previous year, and notes that he has been afraid of the dark, and hearing voices. At first, Jeremy seems sweet enough, up until he starts berating Corey. Shortly after Jeremy snaps that Corey is just an “ugly ass boy babysitter,” Jeremy seems to vanish. Obvious tension between them makes it a bit complicated when Jeremy later screams for help. Corey races upstairs to find Jeremy, but tragedy abruptly strikes just as the boy’s parents return home…

In the wake of this surprising cold open, we are, in pure Halloween tradition, treated to moody pumpkins and John Carpenter’s atmospheric, piercing score. Carved-up pumpkins tear their way through other pumpkins, and eventually, the camera pans right through the middle of one pumpkin straight through its guts. The camera is taking us deep into the root of evil, insides and all. A voiceover from Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) catches us up with where she and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) have been in the four years that Michael has laid dormant. Michael vanished the same night he slaughtered Laurie’s daughter, Karen, in cold blood, leaving Haddonfield a breeding ground of grief, trauma, and paranoia. The Myers home was demolished, Allyson and Laurie found healing together by moving into their own cozy home in Haddonfield, and they have made a promise not to let fear rule their lives.

Laurie is just putting the finishing touches on her memoir, seemingly in a much better mental and emotional place than we last left her. Allyson too seems to be doing well, thriving in her job at Haddonfield Memorial. With only four days until Halloween, one just has to know that their quiet calm is in for a rude awakening. Corey, now a social pariah after 2019’s senseless tragedy, works on cars in a junkyard with his father. Some local douche senior kids beg Corey to buy them six-packs, but when he refuses them, their attitude takes an ugly turn. By the end of their confrontation, Corey has sliced open his own hand on a glass bottle; thankfully, Laurie sweeps to his rescue, and shoos away the annoying teens. Referring to Corey as a “psycho” and Laurie as a “freak,” these jerks should probably find a better use of their time than picking at two grown adults. Laurie and Corey slash their tires and move on with their lives.

The film’s script makes obvious connections between Laurie, Corey, and Allyson, all three of whom are driven away from society by those who view them as other. As much as Corey is outcast, Laurie seems equally so. Blamed for instigating Michael’s reign of terror, a trip to the supermarket to pick up some groceries cannot even go smoothly for Laurie. Corey is similarly tormented when just trying to have fun. After Laurie sets up a meet-cute for Corey and Allyson, the duo attend a Halloween party where things quickly spiral out of control. Green wisely carries over themes of trauma and mob mentality, spreading across the whole of Haddonfield like a virus. Well before Michael Myers even comes back into the fray, I was fully invested in our core set of characters.

In this sequel, Michael has clearly been weakened after his encounter with the entirety of the town at large. James Jude Courtney fills the shoes of The Shape for his final go-round, again playing up the physicality, albeit with an added lumbering, aged gait. Don’t expect a bloodbath akin to Halloween KillsEnds is focused far more deeply on character study than body count. As a result, Michael does not show up until nearly half-an-hour into the runtime. Focusing so heavily on Corey will surprise a lot of fans, but I personally loved the addition of this new face thanks to the strength of Campell’s performance. The arcs of Laurie and Allyson are impressive, and though she has a reduced role, it was also a pleasure seeing Kyle Richards back as Lindsey Wallace. Seeing Laurie happy and healthy even for just a moment is great, and allows Curtis to show her range. I have also finally come around to Matichak’s Allyson after three movies. Allyson and Corey’s rom-com Bonnie and Clyde vibe felt a fitting trajectory for her.

Of course, delving into full-on spoilers for Halloween Ends should be reserved for post-release, when audiences can fully dig into everything they loved (or hated) about this newest chapter. Suffice to say, Michael comes back in a fashion that recalls Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Eventually, we are treated to some of the best kills the series has to offer. My favorite involves a record player and a tongue, and is clearly the nastiest of the ones we see unfold onscreen. Easter eggs galore make sure we don’t forget any of the victims, nor overlook the generations of Strode trauma. True fans of the series at large will want to know the answer to the film’s big showdown between Michael and Laurie. Once we arrive in the final act, I was fully on the edge of my seat. I had been wondering whether or not Green’s ending would hold a candle to Laurie’s grand showdown with Michael in 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. If anything, Ends has an even greater sense of finality to the story at large, making me think that if they truly wish to make another Halloween, a reboot is the only option left.

David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy ultimately concludes in a massive bang that will divide the fandom down the middle. Some will admire its risk-taking and bizarre shifts, while others will hate it. Thematically, I was most reminded of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, yet definitively, Ends is unlike any entry that has come before. When one is fourteen entries deep into a beloved series and still willing to try new things without assuming the mythology is sacred or fan service is necessary, the creatives must be doing something right. An epic, jaw-dropping final confrontation is sure to pump in applause-ready moments of glee. Jamie Lee Curtis can put her iconic final girl to rest armed with the knowledge that she did right by this franchise. At the very least, no one can say that Halloween: Resurrection had a better ending for the character. Love it or hate it, Halloween Ends passionately brings the Laurie and Michael stories to a memorable and unforgettable close. David Gordon Green ably reminds us that evil doesn’t die, it just changes shape.

Halloween Ends makes a final stand against evil when it debuts in theaters and to Peacock Premium subscribers on Friday, October 14th. 

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