OK, so we knew there was going to be an end. We didn’t know there were going to be like six endings.
Honestly, after a while I stopped counting every time I thought of “Halloween Ends,” regarded as the latest chapter in the “Halloween” saga that began with the 1978 John Carpenter classic – or at least for the star and producer Jamie Lee Curtis – it was finished. Was that when he did this? When does it do it? When does that other person come in? In my notebook I kept writing: “It ends with …” But then another crazy thing happened.
As for whether this approach to kitchen sink narrative resolution will bother you, well, it depends on what you came for.
Did you want the closure in a satisfyingly consistent way? That’s not what you’ll get. Did you want to see Curtis in another (we think) tough performance as the enduring Laurie Strode, whom he has played for about 45 years? You will understand it. Wanted to see more blood and guts, with a creepy and creative scene involving a turntable? You will understand it too.
Actually, the turntable – can we repeat that this scene is creepy? – here is quite a worrying metaphor, because it implies something that can slow down but never stop completely. And that’s the uncomfortable feeling we ultimately get as we leave Strode, his masked nemesis Michael Myers, and the other residents of Haddonfield, Illinois, (a city where, if we can digress for a second, real estate values must be in the tank now given the number of corpses, but somehow people remain?) Can we really trust that it will finally be like this?
In any case, no one seems to leave Haddonfield, much less Strode, so that’s where, once again, we begin this third installment of the David Gordon Green trilogy, which was to follow directly from the original, ignoring all the sequels and reboots in between. In case you missed any, there is a handy summary by Strode herself, as a narrator. But first we see a heartbreaking prelude where another babysitter gets in trouble on Halloween night, this time in 2019: not a girl but a boy, Corey (Rohan Campbell). A few hours after her cheery arrival, the boy she is caring for is dead and Corey is taken away by the authorities.
Was the horrific event an accident or was it intentional? When we meet Corey again, he’s free but he’s a shadow of himself. Strode, meanwhile, has bought a new house, is writing a memoir, and is aiming to move on (but not get out, at least not from Haddonfield). “It’s been four years since I last saw my monster,” he tells us. “So here I am, a survivor trying to share my story and find healing.”
Strode, whom we see typing his thoughts a la Carrie Bradshaw, spits out a lot of psychotic talk about individual responsibility to resist evil, which coming from anyone but Curtis would sound totally absurd, but his resourceful presence was the reason. main to watch this franchise from its first babysitting gigs in 1978. Either way, theories of how to find the strength to make peace with your fears sound good, until you’re faced with a huge masked boy with a bloody carving knife in the kitchen – or so it would seem.
Strode now lives with his niece, Allyson (a lovely Andi Matichak), now a nurse, who tragically lost her parents to the Black Man, aka Myers. Allyson also longs to abandon the tragedy (but not from Haddonfield!) And when she meets Corey, something in the troubled young man hits the strings. As the couple grows closer, though, Strode is becoming increasingly concerned with a dark side of Corey reminding her … hmm, who could she be? … he will come to us.
Speaking of Myers, he’s obviously back. We won’t tell you where and how, but no one will be shocked, because it’s always the last 20 minutes or so of epic and biblical confrontation between him and Strode. On Halloween. Obviously.
The only difference this time around is whether we can believe this ending – well, these six endings – really are. (Wait, that’s why the movie is called “Halloween Ends” – as in ending, plural?) There seems to be some pretty incontrovertible evidence here that someone, and we won’t say who, would have a hard time coming back.
But that turntable is still spinning. We could see all these people again.
“Halloween Ends,” a Universal Pictures release, was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references.” Duration: 111 minutes. Two stars out of four.
MPAA definition of R: Limited. Children under 17 require an accompanying parent or adult guardian.