Horror franchises live and die — sorry — on the strength of their principal antagonists. It requires no great insight to make this observation, I admit, but as our beloved slasher brands age more or less gracefully with us, it bears repeating. From Jason to Freddy to Ghostface to Michael, it takes more than gore to keep us watching. We need to believe in the deathless permanence of these villains, and that the effort of getting to know them over years will be rewarded. It’s a kind of relationship. It’s why we eventually even start to root for them.
John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” hit theaters back in 1978. The movie marked the debut of the 44-year-long war of attrition between Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode that defines the series. Laurie is one of the most famous “final girls” in movie history. The “final girl” trope is a long-standing horror film convention that leaves one woman alive to confront the killer and tell the story after the big bad been dispatched. Some of them get the job done in one script, but not our Laurie. I apologize for the spoiler, but Michael does not die in the original “Halloween.” To the contrary, Laurie has been locked in a duel with him for over four decades now and, according to the marketing for “Halloween Ends,” we have finally reached the climax of their shared saga.
It’s been four in-story years since the two squared off during the events of 2021’s “Halloween Kills” and Laurie is again attempting to get on with her life. She’s writing a memoir about her years of terror and trying to raise her granddaughter in peace. Nobody has seen Michael for a while, but the creeping evil that animates him is still present in Haddonfield, Illinois, and it’s clear from the film’s opening moments that there is a momentum of violence already mounting. Slowly. This is where “Halloween Ends” stumbles first. It takes too long to get to the good stuff. By which I mean the slashing, and Michael himself.
One of the subtexts of this movie seems to be the notion that Michael Myers is a state of being rather than an actual one. The same could be said for Laurie Strode, as both characters appear to be unwittingly passing the torch during the first two thirds of “Halloween Ends.” It’s boring. Neither Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson or Haddonfield’s new “deeply troubled young man” Corey are strong enough characters to carry the plot, and the delay we must endure before the real showdown is a lot to ask. If the point of this choice was to make sure we understood that the legend might outlive its two primary participants, that we might get more movies, then the mark was missed. I personally didn’t care much about Allyson or Corey. I wanted more Michael and Laurie, both of whom are in this movie far too little.
I won’t say anything about the final battle, which thankfully does eventually happen, except that it felt definitive. I only wish this last chapter was more worthy of the brand. I hoped Michael and Laurie would retire from their epic tête-a-tête with ferocious dignity, but they just seemed tired of each other. I wondered in that moment if I might be tired of them too.
Everybody knows I’m not a horror guy. I’ve said it here many times. But I have always been a fan of John Carpenter’s creations and I have always loved to hate Michael Myers. “Halloween Ends” fails to do his character, or Laurie’s, any justice though. I’m content to see the franchise resolve itself, I suppose, but not out of satisfaction. That mask, it deserved a better send-off.