Since 1978, one name has dominated the minds of slasher fans. He’s “The Shape.” He’s the embodiment of evil. He’s who you need to see on your TV on the scariest night of the year. Hell, he is Halloween—the holiday, the film, and the dreary visions of panic in a small town that immortalized Carpenter’s simple yet effective story. So if Halloween Ends is the third film in the franchise’s newest trilogy—then where is Michael Myers?
If we’re speaking literally, he spends most of the film hiding in a sewer after a mob of Haddonfield citizens attempted to kill evil in Halloween Kills. Evil hasn’t died. Instead, it slinks under Haddonfield, ready to infect the next generation’s boogeyman.
Die-hard Halloween series fans know that a lack of appearances of Michael Myers doesn’t necessarily kill a film’s appeal. Halloween III: Season of the Witch doesn’t include the villain as a character at all. The series was initially planned to be an anthology before the public latched onto Haddonfield’s boogeyman, making the third film bizarrely Michael-less. Instead, the film descends into an exploration of a murderous Halloween mask company that preys on America’s youth with catchy synth jingles. The result is an impassioned portrayal of consumerism and corporate America, complete with a uniquely 1980s neon cheese—and although it was negatively received in 1982, it stands as a cult classic today.
At first glance, the third film in the original series doesn’t seem too far off from the third film in the Halloween (2018) storyline. Both films have a fresh take on the Halloween name, giving us new characters and pertinent social messages. In Ends, Myers is stripped of his mask by a new character—Corey—who is labeled as a psychopathic child killer and relentlessly bullied by almost everyone in town, leading him to follow in the serial killer’s footsteps. The message is clear: when the turmoil within ourselves and the uninformed prejudices of others affect us for too long, it can lead to a cycle of violence and a reimagined version of evil.
But gone are the days of the original film’s disappearing serial killer, or stories on mass-marketed masks and mass-murder, or even Halloween Kills and its endless stream of creative… well, kills. Green’s central message aligns with the motifs of mob mentality and misplaced hatred that are stated in the previous film, but that’s where the feeling of coherence comes to an end. Where Halloween III succeeds in being a stand-alone horror film that utilizes loud imagery to carry a piece of commentary to its conclusion, Halloween Ends forgets to follow up its ingenuity with realistic characters, meaningful pacing, and thematic consistency, creating a rushed and conflicted conclusion to the most recent trilogy.
In its attempt to deliver an allegory on the cycle of violence, Halloween Ends expresses a layer of unrealism—not in terms of Michael’s indestructible nature, but in the treatment of its characters. The people in Halloween Ends’ Haddonfield don’t naturally progress along their arcs: they act to fit the preconceived message embedded in the plot. Because of the focus on Corey, there isn’t room to explore Laurie’s grief after the death of her daughter, or her fear of the unknown while Michael Myers is still alive. Instead, she is carefree, focusing on her status as a new homeowner. Allyson has emerged into her twenties, but acts like a teenager with an undeveloped brain, with her lack of reason allowing her to act as a romantic incentive behind Corey’s actions. The stream of Haddonfield citizens who taunt Corey have no self-restraint, refusing to talk behind his back or ignore him from fear. Instead, every person who interacts with Halloween Ends’ main villain explains in detail why he is as much of a monster as Michael. Just as each minor character is compelled to spell out their hatred for Corey, so too does Green feel the need to spell out the themes of the threequel, utilizing unrealistic interactions and the underdeveloped remnants of beloved characters to push a piece of social commentary.
The name Halloween invokes memories of a patient first film that builds upon itself, saving the majority of its horrors for an opportune ending that makes our fears of home invasion and undefeated evil tangible. On the other hand, the central message highlighted in Corey doesn’t survive to see the film’s conclusion. The pacing takes a nosedive when Michael Myers reappears at Laurie’s door for a final, snappy battle—leaving our supposed main antagonist, Corey, with his skull bashed open in the hallway. By the third act, Halloween Ends not only revolves around one undeveloped plot, but two, creating a thematically contrasting final product.
Despite the lack of subtlety in its execution, Gordon Green’s narrative at least says something about human nature as the film progresses. The ending not only adds a couple of characters to the kill count but massacres the film’s vision as well, making both the message and the film’s main villain afterthoughts. By the end, the pacing of the main plot and the ending oppose each other, giving the audience whiplash from swinging back and forth between two Halloween visions. The lack of balance between Corey’s storyline and Michael’s final showdown makes Halloween Ends feel like a tangled mess behind Carpenter’s original film, with its steady, slow-burning clip that builds tension with every peripheral glance of its killer. Halloween Ends suffers from an internal turmoil of its own: the clashing of Gordon Green’s incomplete vision and the forced, studio-mandated ending that needed to be shoved in somewhere.
Halloween Ends is a case study into a larger phenomenon in modern horror film production. In a climate that treasures the serious, “elevated” horror of the most celebrated A24 thrillers, trends in recent horror films not only include remaking nostalgia-bait for cash grabs but prioritizing an intellectual, heavy-hitting social message. With its two-faced attempt at finishing off the trilogy, Halloween Ends sometimes feels more of a forgettable, underwritten horror release like Smile rather than an impassioned slasher that understands the classic Halloween atmosphere and careful pacing of the original film. With a style that’s so split, Halloween Ends can’t feel simply inspired like Carpenter’s Halloween, or confident in its creativity like Halloween III. Instead, the final installment in the Halloween (2018) trilogy gets the worst of both worlds: being forced into a corner by the expectations of the industry while simultaneously taking an unforeseen risk with its execution.
Although it brings something original to the table, Corey’s descent into violence through Michael Myers’ eternal evil ultimately lacks purpose within the rest of the trilogy’s story. And with an ending that throws a wrench into how the film executes its social message in favor of a neglected final battle, Halloween Ends trashes a narrative that could have meant something. The showdown between Laurie and Michael at the end flies by, the boogeyman is defeated by Laurie, is chopped up into bits by the fearful town, and the credits roll. What are we left with, and what was the point? All there seems to be is the question we had at the beginning—where was the coherence, the characters—and where the fuck was Michael Myers?