To get straight to the point: Is “Halloween Ends” scary? Somewhat.
David Gordon Green’s directed continuations of John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” franchise usually have two major faults — the characters tend to pseudo-philosophize about evil more than they actually deal with it, and the evil that does occur takes the form of acts that are both unnecessarily gory and nowhere near gory enough (e.g., a boot to some poor passerby’s skull).
“Halloween Ends” is no exception. Anyone who downs a shot every time the word “Bogeyman” is mentioned would die of alcohol poisoning before Michael Myers (Nick Castle) even graced the screen. Myers appears too late and too little, and when he does go on a stabbing spree, he inexplicably tag-teams with local babysitter Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), the scruffy teenage boyfriend of Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), who is the granddaughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Not to say that more gore amounts to a scarier movie — this one proves that. Consider the spare, subtle way that Carpenter frames Myers: The fear was in the before-and-after, the here-now, gone-again silhouettes and dark suburban corners. Home was a trap or a place to hide.
Here, Green fills the bloodless spaces with a cliched teenage romantic subplot and Laurie’s Nietzchean monologues. The only subtle thing about Green’s approach is the question of which is worse. The script is so lazily written that every minute of the movie is chock-full of unintended laughs by the audience; on the other hand, there were so many laughs to be had that the movie was perversely enjoyable.
But Curtis is not to be blamed for all her preaching on the evil that “lives inside us” like an “infection”; the writers are. As an actress, she remains formidable. She carries the movie, but everyone is superbly cast. Matichak’s Allyson has that small-town look of gullible freshness and worn-down resignation; Campbell’s Corey has that slightly inbred, ominously dull “Children of the Corn” leer; and certainly Myers remains in top form, though 40 years after his debut both he and his stunt double (James Jude Courtney) qualify for Medicare. All the worse, then, that every single one of these characters is two-dimensional.
Meanwhile, Carpenter’s soundtrack is as perfect for the movie as ever (and the “Don’t Fear the Reaper” cameo over the credits gets points for nostalgia), but it’s scattered between pop songs that are far harder to bear than any of the decapitations. What Green lacks in aural scare factor, he tries to make up for in gratuitous jump-scares: Any slamming door or jolting car is guaranteed to be wall-rattlingly loud. The sounds are all the worse for having to underscore a plot with more holes in it than Myers himself who, in this movie, lives in a dirt-covered sewer under an overpass for some reason.
For instance, the town of Haddonfield, Illinois, turns against Corey for allegedly murdering a boy who dies under his supervision (this well-shot scene is all the worse for beginning the movie, since it’s only downhill from there). However, scarcely anyone, least of all Allyson, bats an eye when Corey follows Myers on a highly overt killing rampage — at one point even borrowing Myers’ mask, as if the symbolism wasn’t overloaded enough.
Thank heaven that the selling point of this movie isn’t Corey’s homicidal teenage angst but Curtis sending Magic Mike to his maker (though it’s taken so long that he isn’t far from “natural causes”). Barring spoilers, she does it in a mildly creative and gratifyingly violent way. By this point, however, the plot hangs on by so ragged a thread, or vein or intestine, that one wishes that the lovable geriatric assassin would survive.
Is there hope for yet another sequel — a figure lurking in the shadows, someone else to carry on Myers’ murderous legacy? This movie leaves none. Halloween has ended, and no matter how devoted a fan one may be of Carpenter’s original slasher masterpiece, one leaves this movie grateful.