15 Oct 2021
David Gordon Green
John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Scott Teems
Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann
The closing moments of 2018’s Halloween feature three generations of Strode women, including Laurie, perhaps the most iconic Final Girl in the history of horror cinema, standing above Michael Myers as he is engulfed by flames before fleeing to safety in the belief that they have finally defeated the monster. In that moment, a new legacy and precedent for the Halloween franchise was born.
After escaping from Laurie’s seemingly inescapable trap, Michael Myers continues his ritualistic Halloween butchering on his quest to return to the family home. Injured and grounded in hospital, Laurie encourages the Haddonfield residents to take action and rise up against Myers to end his 40-year reign of terror once and for all.
Halloween Ends begins mere moments after the explosive events of the previous instalment. Having concluded on an almighty tease of Michael Myers’s survival, picking up right where we left off amidst a town gripped by terror was a natural place to start. However, we don’t have time to settle in before the film drags us into a different timeline, taking us back to the evening in 1978 that Myers was arrested and introducing parallel plotlines that feel so thin and clumsily stapled together that it’s hard to focus on which one to place more emphasis on.
Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton), who was attacked and left for dead by Michael’s psychiatrist in Halloween (2018), is afforded a backstory dating back to the very night of the killer’s capture. The flashbacks reveals that Hawkins’ ardent motivation for wanting to stop Michael stems from a regret and guilty conscience that have haunted him for nearly 50 years. Although, the character spends all of his time in the hospital bedridden and unable to take action so the audience are subjected to melodramatic monologues of wish fulfilment.
Once firmly rooted in the present, the story begins to pick up speed. Spurred on by the Strode family and other survivors, the townsfolk form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael. Although the mobs are on a murder mission, the phrase suicide squad seems more apt as Michael’s animalistic pursuit and killer instinct eliminates targeted groups with ease, leaving very few survivors in his wake.
As a seasoned professional who is well acquainted with the ways of serial killing, Michael continually finds new ways to surprise and delight us with his brutal massacres. The set pieces that demonstrate his prowess are a somewhat welcome relief and divergence from the scenes of mass hysteria at the hospital and the half-hearted attempts to integrate some of the franchise’s history into the story.
However, each gruesome sequence follows the same rhythms; a suspicious noise is heard or a bloody handprint is discovered, immediately followed by the spooked soon-to-be victims conducting a tense investigation that leads to a brief anti-climax before Michael inflicts his surprise and calculated attack. This pattern starts to become so predictable that the subsequent sequences risk losing their impact. However, John Carpenter’s iconic and dread-inducing score never fails to pack a punch and elevates the material when it sorely needs it.
The repetitive nature of the action is just a symptom of Halloween Kills larger problem – it suffers from middle-film-of-a-trilogy syndrome. A subplot of mistaken identity that does nothing to advance the plot and reaches a predictable conclusion is an obvious attempt to pad out the runtime – and waste the audience’s time in the process. Despite being the franchise’s most revered character, Laurie Strode appears in a capacity akin to a glorified supporting role (although Jamie Leigh Curtis makes her precious screen time count). The film’s final moments end on an almighty cliffhanger and promise that Halloween Ends will set the stage for an epic showdown 40 years in the making.
If you’re looking for a cheap thrill to set you up for the spooky season then Halloween Kills will deliver. Sadly, with its repetitive action, stretched plot and overcomplicated expansion of the mythology, the film is all filler and no killer. Except for Michael Myers, of course.