By: Jolie Featherstone
Halloween Ends, the final instalment of the latest Halloween trilogy, reunites Laurie Strode and Michael Myers in a bloody battle that can also be interpreted as a proud celebration for scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis.
Taking place four years after Laurie Strode’s last encounter with Michael Myers, Strode is living with her granddaughter and there has been no sign of Michael Myers. In this time of tentative peace, Laurie is working on her memoir and trying to establish a new life beyond fear and anger. Though that is easier said than done when Haddonfield, Illinois is still gripped by the trauma and violence that has besieged the town for years.
When a young local man is accused of murdering a boy that he was babysitting, the shocking incident (a tense, riveting opening scene) begins a new cycle of violence and terror that brings evil back to Laurie Strode’s door.
David Gordon Green returns to direct and co-write the final film in his modern Halloween trilogy, and in doing so reunites with co-writer Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride) alongside co-writers Paul Brad Logan and Chris Bernier. Perhaps it is due to the various voices of the writers but, at times, it feels as if the screenplay isn’t quite sure what the core story wants to be. There are significant tonal changes, there is some wooden dialogue, and there are new avenues of thought brought into the film – a film meant to be a finale. Slasher, social critique, personal journey – there are a lot of themes packed into the film. That said, Halloween Ends is guided by a north star: giving Laurie Strode a just finale, which it succeeds in doing.
Jamie Lee Curtis has said that this will be her last turn starring as Laurie Strode in the franchise. In this finale, Strode is the lead-with-a-capital-L: she is just as ferocious as Michael Myers, but driven by love and justice rather than an insatiable hunt. Even in many of the movie’s posters Laurie is shown standing as tall as Michael. It is unique, and frankly exciting, to witness. The virtuous, maiden-like final girl of 1978 has grown into a self-assured badass who fights for more than just survival. Jamie Lee Curtis genuinely cares about Laurie Strode and that shows in how respectfully she handles the character.
At times the writing feels as if it’s trying to take multiple directions but has been edited to fit the format. However, the cast does a great job of keeping the story flowing and engaging. Canadian Rohan Campbell is a particular stand-out with his heady portrayal of the much maligned Corey, a new but pivotal character. Through Laurie, her granddaughter Allyson, and particularly Corey, the film approaches the oft-said-but-still-true phrase: “hurt people hurt people.” Green’s Halloween trilogy shines a light on trauma in a more prominent way than most other slasher franchises. In truth, trauma completely changes how we interact with the world and the recent films demonstrate this (as much as they can within the context of a slasher flick). In Halloween (2018), we see how Laurie has built a veritable fortress around herself – both physically and emotionally. She lives in an obsessive and constantly vigilant state. In Halloween Ends, Strode has shed the fortress – indeed, she lives in a lovely home right in Haddonfield, no trap doors or advanced defences. She is more present and open with the people in her life. We don’t often see this kind of sympathetic look at the trauma sustained by a victim of violence in slasher franchises. Of course, there is only so much that can be delved into within the context of the movie, but it’s an ambitious and admirable move.
I suspect Halloween Ends may polarize some fans, partly due to how liberally the writing team plays with the canon and tone of the Halloween franchise. This new instalment feels like a different movie in many ways. It slightly leans toward paranormal horror elements and treats Michael Myers himself quite differently than how we’ve previously seen him portrayed. The film touches on a new mythology within the story, yet doesn’t delve deep enough to give us more solid footing.
Balancing the terror of violent evil, and the terrorization that comes from mob mentality, Halloween Ends delivers thrills, chills, and a number of blood spills. The film truly is a work of honour to Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, and Debra Hill. Carpenter and Hill revolutionized the slasher genre. With their original Halloween, they created a whole new blueprint for slasher films, and horror as a genre overall. Jamie Lee Curtis created a character that not only audiences could feel for, but they could root for. So often when watching a slasher film, you’ll hear cheers and whoops for the killer as they take their prey. Curtis’ sympathetic yet strong Laurie Strode becomes the star of the show and the audience cheers for her – and not just when she gets away, but especially when she takes as big a chunk out of Myers as he does others. It is fitting that Halloween Ends gives Laurie Strode the chance to shine as a survivor and a hero.
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Jolie Featherstone: @TOFilmFiles