“I fear not the dark itself, but what may lurk within it.” – unknown
With age comes baggage. It’s inevitable. It takes a self-aware person to recognize these burdens and to make the attempt to correct the errors. I think one of the most common negative traits that form over time is bias. Bias can come in the form of something mundane like preferring one kind of burger joint over another without trying both kinds or something more severe like racism or homophobia. It’s a prejudice, an unfair judgment. I try to take this awareness into account when I watch movies. Especially when it involves franchise properties featuring more than one entry.
In this latest trilogy of the Halloween brand, it began with a strong promise of what was to come. While the first is good, the promise of continued returns was broken with Halloween Kills. My greatest issue with Kills is the lost tone established in the first. A feeling of impending doom was replaced with 80’s cheese. It felt like an entirely different world. My initial bias was if the second was so subpar, the finale, Halloween Ends, will be nothing less than what came before it. That self-awareness I spoke of was greatly needed when the third entry finally arrived. Call it forced naivety but I knew in order to find the positives after the previous entry it was going to take some blind optimism.
So was that hopefulness rewarded with Halloween Ends? I wish it was a simple yes or no, I really do.
For the first forty to fifty minutes of the movie I was genuinely ready to check out. I thought every bias I held about a movie I hadn’t seen yet was coming to fruition. It was giving off serious Season of the Witch vibes throughout the first act. (This part is a bit of a spoiler so maybe skip ahead and wait for me in the next paragraph.) By that I mean Michael Myers is nowhere to be found. He’s mentioned but never seen. While no ridiculous warlock subplots this time it feels as if they benched the best player on the team for a third stringer we’ve never heard of and whether we knew it or not, never wanted. I’m not in search of a complicated plot within a franchise narrative whose greatest strength is a masked man indiscriminately killing both the young and old alike. I’m looking for new and creative ways to experience faux carnage and bloodshed. Do I appreciate the occasional surprise to keep things interesting? Sure. Surprise me. But let’s not forget I’m not here for a reinvention of the wheel. Fresh but familiar I think is the happy medium with a property like Halloween.
It isn’t until the magnificent return of The Shape itself that things begin to turn in the right direction. The brutality begins to emerge again and legend becomes reality as it once did. The twist (which will remain unspoiled in this review) however would not work without the first act establishing the new direction the filmmakers are taking us in. So I’m conflicted. On one hand I couldn’t stand the first act but without it, the much stronger second and third acts wouldn’t have played out as well as they do.
I think Halloween Ends is the kind of movie that demands more than one viewing to really appreciate the effort taken to create something fresh but familiar. If I see Ends again, knowing where it’s all going, I believe I will have a much better experience. You could argue a movie should be good from the first watch or it’s not really a good movie. I can’t exactly argue against that viewpoint but here we are and Halloween Ends exists. Perhaps after a second watch I’ll realize it didn’t help but from my current vantage point, Halloween Ends has a less than interesting first act saved by a second and third act that feel as if the movie finally finds its footing and really begins to take off.
A major mistake of the second entry, Kills, is the placing of the Laurie Strode character from lead to glorified cameo. In part 3, Strode is back and ready to finish things once and for all. Even to the detriment of her own kin. The state of modern Haddonfield is a battlefield of ghosts in every corner of town. Though Michael is scarce these days, his presence is felt now more than ever. Though the boulder splashed and settled, the wake of its impact is still washing over a town left in shambles after the events of part 2. This anxiety blanketing a wounded townspeople is beginning to change their very behavior and despite their desire to move on from the past, their present is dictating a much uglier future. A story of bullies and their unfortunate prey begins to take shape creating a new chapter in the world of dead-eyed evil. Michael might still be lurking in the shadows, but his legend has already begun forming the next in a line of the unthinkable. “We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized that they were inside us.”
So, take some patience with you for this entry and understand, while at times off-putting and inexcusably slow in its first act, once established, Halloween Ends really begins to make itself something to be remembered. The first in this trilogy is still without question the best of the three, but Ends’ final hour saves the mistakes of its first forty-five minutes and places it in a strong second position ahead of Halloween Kills. I can’t say my first experience with Ends was good or bad, I can say it was good enough that I’m still interested in the idea of rewatching it with a different perspective. After my initial viewing of Kills, I was done with it. I would say this is an improvement.
Rated R For: bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references
Runtime: 111 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 7.5/ Acting: 7/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 8.5
OVERALL: 7 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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