Ever since the Halloween franchise returned with the titular 2018 reboot, the new trilogy has been on a quest to excavate Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) past trauma. It’s been an uneven journey. The brutal retconning of the first entry charmed many viewers. It also broke box office records as Curtis returned to her iconic Final Girl role. This reviewer wasn’t a fan of the second entry, Halloween Kills. But the third film, fittingly titled Halloween Ends is an ambitious and unexpected story that serves as a fitting send off for the Strode family.
In some ways Halloween Ends makes the new Halloween trilogy feel almost like Sam Raimi’s beloved Evil Dead. It’s not that they’re similar in tone. David Gordon Green’s Halloween is far more serious and grim. However, with Halloween Ends it feels like Green has made the same film three times. However, just like Army of the Dead, the final Halloween jumps the shark in a way that worked. Each entry is about Laurie dealing with her trauma, but Ends sticks the landing in a way the others didn’t. Not only that, it takes a narrative risk that will likely prove divisive but that makes it point in a far more powerful way than either of his two previous films.
Set four years after the events of the last film, which saw the town of Haddonfield succumb to its own anger and hatred of Michael Myers, we find Laurie healing. She’s writing a book, living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and healthily grieving the death of her daughter. RIP Judy Greer. The pair still reside in Haddonfield, which is questionable and inevitable. But before we join them, we get a brutally effective cold open that stands as one of the franchise’s most shocking moments. It also serves as our introduction to Corey (Rohan Campbell). The gruesome tragedy defines his life and sets him on a collision course with Michael Myers.
How much you care about or relate to Corey and Allyson’s stories will define your enjoyment of the film. But this is still Laurie Strode’s tale as she attempts to move past the horrors she’s experienced. Curtis is infinitely watchable as always, the broken-yet-beaten heart of the film. Both Matichak and Campbell balance their complex central plot well as they keep the audience invested even in the bleakest of moments. Campbell has the hardest job out of any cast member and he delivers in every scene. It’s difficult to talk about the gravitas and empathy he brings in a spoiler-free review, but believe us when we say he succeeds. Green shoots Halloween Ends in a flickering atmospheric tone that builds tension constantly even though the movie is far less concerned with mystery than your usual slasher. That tone is cemented by brilliant sound design that constantly keeps you on edge.
Halloween Ends marks a high point for the new trilogy. If this really is the last Halloween film, it’s a worthy if uneven finale. But if not, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next.
Halloween Ends hits theaters and Peacock on October 14.