When I left “Halloween Kills” a year ago, there was a newfound love for the Michael Myers-led series. After not caring much about writer/director David Gordon Green’s 2018 relaunch of the horror classic, the second entry in his new trilogy made that film better and more complete.
SPOILER ALERT: At the end of “Kills,” Myers got away. He killed the townspeople who tried to stop him, and managed to murder the daughter (Judy Greer) of his longtime nemesis in Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the longtime survivor he couldn’t kill. It was the rare occasion where the bad guy didn’t just get away; he struck the final blow.
WHAT IF THE BAD GUY WON?
Movies where the bad guy wins (even in death) are few and far between. Heath Ledger’s Joker ended up in Arkham in “The Dark Knight,” but only after turning Gotham’s white knight in Harvey Dent into a two-faced, psychotic killer. In the underrated and underseen “Arlington Road,” Jeff Bridges’ conspiracy theorist teacher failed to stop Tim Robbins’ terrorist living in plain clothing. It was ultimately chiling to see something that happens often in real life: the villain winning.
Green bringing back Michael for not one, not two, but three more films, only for the big guy to walk (albeit slowly) away in the end would have been genius. Laurie’s battle cry near the onset of “Kills” would be met with a few more bruises and cuts for Myers but a large body count and no ultimate death. That would have been different, or not as infuriating as Strode surviving multiple attacks with a man whom opponents rarely survive a first encounter with.
Why? “Kills” made too much money, grossing $139 million on a modest budget. So, business practices say that a studio must greenlight a third story, even one Green already had in tow I guess. Never mind the fact that the second film made the 2018 film stronger and juicier. Forget it. Washingtons can be counted, so onward.
WHAT WENT WRONG HERE?
The third film could have stayed on course at least. Instead, it introduces a sadly uninteresting new character in Corey Cunningham, an innocent babysitter who experiences the worst night a babysitter possibly can. The kid he was supposed to watch ends up dead, bent in half after a two-story fall after a game of hide and seek goes bad.
Corey becomes the new town outcast, a hybrid of Myers and Strode if you will. Green’s finale wastes the first hour setting up this tripod of boredom, losing precious minutes to reignite the fire between the principal combatants. I knew a 100-minute knockdown, drag-out brawl between them wasn’t going to happen, but why does Corey soak up the first two acts?
Even worse, Michael Myers aged 14 years in the four years that passed between the end of “Kills” and the beginning of “Ends.” As in he gets his ass handed to him by a chance encounter with Corey in an underground tunnel. Is the theme supposed to be “old villains do age,” or is this lazy storytelling?
BORING COREY TAKES SHAPE, OR TAKES DOWN THE SHAPE
The best thing would have been to have Myers quickly dispatch Corey right there around the 45 minute mark, but something else less than inviting happens: they become an unlikely team. It’s like Michael became Bruce Wayne in “Dark Knight Rises,” where he joined AARP since he stopped being Batman.
With the introduction of Corey as not a small character subplot but a bigger problem for the characters in the movie-he starts dating Laurie’s daughter, because women in horror films adore troubled boys-the main juice of Laurie versus Michael loses steam. It’s a fucking bore, ladies and gents.
ARE THE THIRD ACT THEATRICS TOO LITTLE TOO LATE?
It’s not until the third act that the main event clicks in, like the two boxers finally clashing in the ring three hours and four uninteresting fights on the telecast. By the time the good kills start happening and Myers picks his first victim up off the floor, it’s nearly too late.
The full blunt finality of the ending of “Halloween Ends” provides a thrill, but it doesn’t hold up days after seeing the film. As the hours stacked up, I found myself liking the film less and less due to this waste of time in the movie. For some reason, the idea of Laurie retreating into peace with her granddaughter (who is parent-less now) without looking for or trying to kill Michael earlier than now is never explained.
Last movie, Laurie was ready to go scorched Earth. It took the daughter being dispatched for her to decide to retire from slasher ass-kicking, which is fairly anticlimactic. Picking things up sooner after the carnage of “Kills” may have worked better.
Or, just leaving the series at a satisfying yet bloody and direct one-two punch would have been a brighter idea than continuing it just for the sake of introducing a new character whom nobody really cares for.
LESS IS MORE
Sometimes, David Gordon Green, a little bit less can mean so much more. But I can admit the hype before “Ends” had me waiting with glee for a worthwhile finale. A few days after watching the movie, I can now admit the third film stands apart as detached and ultimately unfulfilling–even with the big kills and closure delivered after a long wait.
It’s like the headlining boxing match ending in a quick knockout instead of a long fight movie equivalent. “Halloween Ends” lacked cohesion and direction, framing it as a trilogy letdown instead of placing a nice, bloody stamp mark on it.