Halloween Ends (2022, David Gordon Green)

While I had some expectations about Halloween Ends’s plot going in, based on the previous entry, the franchise, and behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt, nothing prepared me for a soft remake of Nightmare on Elm Street II.

Halloween Ends is not about Jamie Lee Curtis getting out the butcher knife granddaughter Andi Matichak gave her in the last movie to kill Michael Myers (once again James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) with Will Patton helping like they’re an adorable old couple hunting serial killers. It’s about local boy Rohan Campbell who accidentally killed a little kid he was babysitting a year after the last movie’s events. On Halloween, obviously. So, Ends’s opening kill is a child’s graphic, accidental death.

It’s incredibly manipulative but also really compelling.

The action then moves ahead three more years. Curtis has given up the prepper life (which seems entirely unlikely given Ends would then take place in 2022, post-Covid—but just like with its immortal septuagenarian spree killers, it doesn’t take place in the real world). She and granddaughter Matichak live together in a charming house where Curtis works on her true crime memoir. Matichak’s a nurse, so she didn’t slow down with college after her entire life was destroyed. Despite being Matichak’s best performance in the series, she and Curtis still don’t have a rewarding cinematic relationship. They’re just too slasher movie broken for it to work, and the movie doesn’t even try.

Curtis happens across Campbell in the present—some high school seniors in the marching band are bullying him—and introduces him to Matichak, who’s apparently been dating a bunch of dudes since Courtney murdered her boyfriend last movie. Her most recent beau is a shitty cop—shitty even for cops—Jesse C. Boyd. Luckily for Matichak, thanks to the bullying, Campbell’s about to snap and has no qualms about picking fights with a cop. Not when he’s a bad boy who zooms around town real fast on the motorcycle he’s fixed up.

Ends fearlessly rides a motorcycle over its shark tank, no qualms about all the eighties horror movie tropes it implements (in addition to Nightmare II, Boyd also does a Christine-esque transformation). It’s shameless, which works for it. Especially since Matichak finds her newest Bonnie in Campbell, and they have eighties teen movie montages riding around on his bike, trying to escape their respective traumas.

The movie pays a lot of lip service to trauma and recovering from it. Curtis has a bunch of narration about it, including narrating clips from the other Halloween movies. It’s a little weird to have a forty-year-old franchise, but they’re only using the clips from the first one, H40, and Kills. They should’ve CGI’ed something else together for it. There’s not a lot of flash in Ends, all things considered. It’s a muted finale.

Albeit one with some bizarre plot decisions. Like having everyone in town hate Curtis for the 2018 massacre—she spent her life bullying a man with brain damage, what did she think would happen—or Patton basically being a cameo. If it weren’t this Halloween series with its deceptive opening titles vise a vie cast importance, he’d be unbilled.

Best music of the H40 trilogy from Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies. Solid photography from Michael Simmonds and especially editing from Timothy Alverson. Green’s direction is fine. He’s not mimicking the original movie anymore, not with Campbell as the new protagonist, which helps.

It’s not good or successful, but it’s also not terrible, and it’s definitely the most engaging of the H40 series.

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