Monday, October 31, 2022

It All Ends Now: Halloween Ends (2022)

Halloween Ends (2022)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak and James Jude Courtney

Remember Randy's Rules of The Trilogy from Scream 3 (2000)? The killer who's going to be superhuman, anyone (including the main character) can die and the past will come back to bite someone in the ass? Well, Halloween Ends (2022) followed most of these trappings and you would expect that the resulting product is going to be one heck of a showdown as Laurie Strode and Michael Myers epic duke out for one more Halloween night, but it looks like the people behind this trilogy have other plans for us. Unexpectedly different, subversive plans.

It's been four years since Michael Myers returned to Haddonfield after his capture back in 1978, once again leaving nothing but death and destruction at All Hallows Eve. Despite the town's best effort to stop and end him, Michael simply disappeared into the night, leaving the town shaken and broken into a paranoid and grieving state. Laurie Strode, who spent the last forty-plus years as a survivor-turned-gun-totting survivalist preparing for the boogeyman's return, tries to move on and focus on living a more fulfilling life away from the hate and fear that once ruled her, sharing a new house with her surviving granddaughter Allyson and doing her best to be a good doting grandmother. Her efforts, sadly, constantly comes down with a hobble as some of the townsfolk blames her for Michael's bloody rampage, claiming that she invoked his wrath and none of the trouble would have started if she just left him alone.

To be tangled in this web of blame and hate is one Corey who, after accidentally killing a child he's babysitting years ago, became one of the town's social pariah, frequently bullied and looked down upon. Laurie found him getting confronted by a gang of highschoolers one day and steps in to his defense and the two bond over the fact that they're seen as Haddonfield's outcasts. Eventually, Laurie introduced Corey to Allyson and the young ones quickly develop a budding romance, but the town's constant attack against him and his past deeds becomes too much for Corey to handle healthily so he starts to fight back, lash out against those who cared for him and, well, found another figure to look up to.

After a bar night gone wrong, Corey ended up storming off on his own and fighting the same gang of bullies from before. A scuffle broke and he falls off a bridge, only to be dragged into the sewers by none other than Michael Myers in hiding. But instead of ending the boy, Michael sensed some sort of understanding to Corey's plight and lets him live. Corey, rightfully frightened, scurries away from the boogeyman only to be heckled by a unhinged homeless man living nearby, threatening to harm him. This becomes the straw that broke he camel's back and Corey got his first taste of murder as he kills the hobo with their own knife, a taste that he will continue to yearn for as he and Michael forms a murderous duo, ending everyone who caused him grievance, all the while juggling to keep this a secret as he further romances Allyson into joining him and his plans to leave Haddonfield, much to Laurie's growing concern and suspicions. 

If we are to forget that this here is a Halloween movie, and a supposed finale to a trilogy even, Halloween Ends (2022) is an interesting watch. Less of a hack-a-thon full of oddball characters and outrageously grandeur situations, the film holds itself pretty nicely as a study on trauma and melancholic bonding, a look into how violent crimes can affect different types of individuals as they go about living a sense of normalcy in their lives, as well as how a community sees and act against those they deem as undesirables. It's effectively downbeat and somber, tragic even as we're basically watching someone who wants nothing more than to live his life without being constantly reminded of a tragic mistake they've done in the past getting pelted with abuse upon abuse to the point that they're corrupted, a story that I'm sure would have worked well better if this was an altogether different movie. Or at least as a Halloween TV series spin-off. (I mean, c'mon, Chucky's doing it!)

Because of Halloween End's stronger focus on Corey's lumber down into becoming Haddonfield's next top murderer, it doesn't become a slasher film until halfway into the movie after Corey and Michael took on a victim as a team. In fact, Michael is somewhat reduced to a side character role here as he's only there aiding boogeyman jr. for one more kill before Corey decided to upstage his mentor, steal his mask and opted to go on a personal killing spree before ultimately going after Laurie strode. It is then that Michael and Laurie got their final fight, which could have been grander if it was built up to better, or if it at least went on more differently than just Michael and Laurie fighting around a kitchen for around five minutes. No sense of dread, nor a sense of enigma. Just a hardened final girl fighting a seemingly weakened monster, ending with a rather overly simple death and a strong suggestion that this is the last we've seen of Michael Myers. (Unless, Michael can resurrect himself through a dog's flaming piss or something...)

Among other little mishandlings here and there, the film's romantic subplot between Corey and Allyson didn't work too well for me for the reason that it fails to develop from its decent start. I like the fact that it all started with Laurie taking a shine to the boy as she understands a bit of the rough patch he's at and it's rather adorable that Corey and Allyson got smitten with one another as soon as they're paired off. Should the plot have taken the time to develop their romance and not just rush everything into bit-sized phases that highlights the toxicity of a crooked relationship, it wouldn't have been as contrived and lackluster as it ended up being. 

Still, for our trouble's worth, Halloween Ends at least delivered an alright looking production and fairly good kills. Comparing this to Kill's avant garde brutality, though, Ends opted to commit a more standardized cluster of murders through simple knife stabbings and offscreen slayings, but there are a few that does stand out for me, such as the bullies' scrapyard massacre and a home invasion tag team wherein Corey wore an impressively creepy scarecrow mask which, sadly, goes underused. (First the gauze covering from Return of Michael Myers, then the papier-mâché' pumpkin mask from Rob Zombie's version, now the bloodstained kiddie scarecrow mask here, what is up with Halloween movies ditching the cooler looking masks?) Whenever the movie wanted to show off some gore, however, I can gladly say it doesn't disappoint, not with its fair helping of gnarly make-up effects and juicy splatter.

Halloween Ends (2022), as a whole, is a mix of good, mediocre and underwhelming baggage. It has ideas well worth to take a stab at, some good angles to approach even, just not as the last entry to a reboot trilogy featuring one of horror's iconic slasher villains. As a supposed finale, it's simply ended the saga (About the fourth one at that, I believe) with a small pop and a fizzle, but I'll be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. A somewhat fascinating watch for both wrong and right reasons.

1 boy falls to his death
1 male and 1 female found shot on the head
1 female found hanged
1 male stabbed to death with a buck knife
1 male knifed to death
1 male found smothered with a plastic sheet, stabbed in the neck with a corkscrew
1 female pinned to a wall with a knife
1 male found stabbed in the eye with a drum stick
1 female brained with a wrench 
1 male shot on the head with a rifle
1 male had his mouth scorched with a blowtorch
1 female had her head stomped
1 female killed with a knife (offscreen)
1 female murdered, method unknown
1 male had his head repeatedly beaten until jaws broke
1 male knifed in the throat, neck broken
1 male repeatedly stabbed, throat and wrist cut with a knife
Total: 18

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