After yawning through 2021’s disappointing “Halloween Kills,” we all wanted the horror reboot series to die a bloody death.
Thank God we left our chef’s knife in the drawer, though. Because when the credits roll at “Halloween Ends,” the actual final chapter that hits theaters and Peacock Friday, you’ll consider taking Wite-Out to the title and changing it to “Halloween Keeps Going, Please.”
Director David Gordon Green was deservedly lauded in 2018 for his superb first ‘ween film, which restored the Michael Myers vs. Laurie Strode death match to its 1970s gritty glory after a string of bombs in the 1990s and aughts. Here, he wraps up his contributions in an extremely satisfying way.
Running time: 111 minutes. Rated R (bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references.) In theaters and on Peacock Oct. 14.
Most surprising are, well, the many surprises. John Carpenter’s 1978 “Halloween,” after all, established the well-worn slasher flick pattern that we now know as well as “Happy Birthday.”
“Ends” starts, as many such films do, at a lovely suburban house in Haddonfield, Ill., with Corey (Rohan Campbell) babysitting a bratty kid on Halloween night. Something horrible happens, but it’s not at all what we come in expecting. It’s much worse.
Some months later, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) decides to stop running from her boogeyman and moves out of her (now incinerated) bunker in the woods into a spooky blood-red, two-story home in town. I would’ve picked Punta Cana. But Laurie chooses the sort of property that looks like it can’t sell on Trulia because of the pesky quintuple murder that happened in the living room.
She lives with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and is working on a memoir. When she goes out, the jackass neighbors mock her and call the aging survivor of a serial rampage a “freak show.” (“Halloween” has never been particularly kind to my home state of Illinois.)
Allyson, who works as a nurse, starts up a controversial romance with Corey, whose life has taken a turn for the worse. The two bond over their emotional scars like pain is a piece of pasta in “Lady and the Tramp.”
All the while, Michael lurks.
Usually by the time most nostalgic series reach their conclusions, the end isn’t so much a competent movie as a shameless fanstravaganza filled with predictable moments for die-hards to clap. Not “Halloween Ends.” Green zeroes in on Corey, someone we’ve never met before, and his complex journey and transformation grab us with gusto.
Campbell, a 25-year-old Canadian actor who’s made no American films till now, is a major talent to watch. As Corey, he morphs from handsome and honor-roll to damaged, unhinged and borderline-possessed with little more than solid acting to rely on. (Carpenter’s classic “Halloween” theme music helps, too.) Yet even as Corey becomes corrupted and Gollum-like, the audience doesn’t stop believing our guy can be redeemed. Right to the end. Then, duhr, we remember we’re at a horror movie — not “Silver Linings Playbook.”
And Curtis is strong as ever. Her Laurie has become as battle-hardened as a general on the front lines. There are glimpses of softness beneath her armor, but mostly she exists to be a warrior and protector. Fighting Myers is her raison d’être. Laurie and Michael, as far as opponents go, are up there with Godzilla and King Kong.
What I love about Green’s style is he has both a sense of the grand — he gives Michael’s mask the cinematic weight of Moses’ Ten Commandments slabs — and the goofy. One death in particular, gory though it may be, is a scream. And the transitions, well-edited by Timothy Alverson, give the movie the ceaseless momentum of a highway chase.
Green seems dead-set on closing the book on his “Halloween” trilogy. The final scenes are, pardon the expression, overkill, but they sure are finite. In the past, Michael has plummeted to the ground or been stabbed, shot, burnt and more. But whenever he falls off that horror-se, the optimistic madman gets right back up.
This time, that’ll take some doing.