Jamie Lee Curtis and Rohan Campbell in 'Halloween Ends'.

‘Halloween Ends’ Fails Audiences and the Strode Women With a Disappointing Finale

***SPOILER ALERT: This post contains mild spoilers for Halloween Ends.***

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Hollywood is littered with film franchises that start strong, deliver a passable sequel, and limp to the finish line with a subpar third outing. But few trilogies have ended as confoundingly and as pointlessly as Halloween Ends. 2018’s Halloween reboot was a welcome revival of a beloved slasher franchise, bringing Jamie Lee Curtis’s iconic final girl Laurie Strode into the modern era. A direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter classic, Halloween (2018) portrayed Laurie as a traumatized survivalist, living in a booby-trapped cabin in the woods and estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). While the younger Strodes want Laurie to let the specter of Michael Myers go, they’re quickly confronted with the past as Michael escapes a prison transport bus and returns to Haddonfield to wreak havoc on the town. Three generations of Strode women then band together to fight back against the unstoppable serial killer. It’s a thrilling entry that delves into generational trauma and reflects the Me Too movement, while still maintaining the dark humor and creative kills the franchise is known for.

The focus shifts in the sequel, Halloween Kills, which explores how Michael’s legacy has poisoned the town and traumatized the community. The Strodes take a backseat as a mob of angry citizens take to the streets to hunt Michael, destroying anyone who gets in their way. It’s a ham-fisted metaphor for everything from anti-vaxxers to the January 6th Capitol riots, but it contains some thrilling scenes and strong performances.

Halloween Ends continues the theme of Michael Myers as an infection, and while he hasn’t been seen in 4 years, Haddonfield still suffers its shares of violent tragedies on Halloween night. One such tragedy happens in 2019, when Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) babysits a young boy named Jeremy on Halloween. Due to a tragic accident, Jeremy dies and Corey becomes a town pariah. We cut to four years later, where Corey is working in his step-dad’s garage and is bullied by the town teens and ostracized by everyone else. As I watched the opening unfold, I had two questions: where are the Strodes, and who is this mediocre white guy sucking up all the screentime?

We check in with Laurie and Allyson who, after Karen’s murder in Halloween Kills, have bought a house together and are living in Haddonfield. You have to wonder what is so appealing about Haddonfield (the school districts? the low property prices?) that keep Laurie and her granddaughter from packing the fuck up and going to live anywhere else. Allyson works as a nurse, while Laurie is writing her memoirs about survival.

But this new Laurie isn’t the one we met in 2018. The grizzled survivalist has had a makeover, and decided to live life to the fullest, and encourages her Allyson to do same. It’s a shocking about-turn that makes little sense for Laurie’s narrative. After being gaslit for DECADES about Michael’s return, Laurie has not only witnessed it firsthand, but seen her only daughter get murdered by Michael. And she KNOWS that Michael is still alive and out there, despite no one having seen him for four years. And yet, Jamie Lee Curtis is basically YOLO, forgoing shotguns and target ranges for baking pumpkin pies and trying to fix her daughter up with the pitiable Corey (why him?! Is he truly the most eligible bachelor in Haddonfield?). It’s a baffling pivot for the character, and one that is under-explained. But while Laurie has a supermarket flirtation with Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) and urges Allyson to have some fun, the townspeople remain angry and bitter about Laurie.

Again I ask, why? Laurie is accosted repeatedly by townsfolk who blame her for baiting Michael Myers into murder, which is A) categorically untrue and B) a wild choice. Of course, society always blames victimized women, but Laurie never baited Michael, and there’s no reason for the town to think she’s somehow a villain here. Meanwhile, Corey and Allyson begin an awkward and tentative romance, but both are dogged by their respective emotional baggage. And if you’re wondering if the relationship is at all charming or compelling, it isn’t. And Matichak and Campbell don’t have the chemistry to sell it. The film is clearly trying to tie their shared trauma together, but it never matches up.

If you’re wondering when Michael Myers finally shows up, it’s not until 40 minutes into the film. Our boy has been living in the sewers and generally chilling, until a chance encounter with Corey sparks Michael to start killing again. Will Corey be able to fight back against Michael, or will be fall under his sway as a new protégé? And more importantly, who cares about this mediocre white dude? Halloween Ends has shifted the narrative to Corey, one of the least compelling characters ever, instead of focusing on the franchise’s star, Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a baffling choice, and one that could only be the brainchild of the film’s four white male writers and director. Corey’s story hijacks the narrative, leaving Curtis a supporting player in her own damn franchise. Halloween Ends is one missed opportunity after another, squandering everything great about 2018’s Halloween. The Strode women and audiences everywhere deserve better.

Halloween Ends is currently playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

(featured image: Ryan Green/Universal Pictures)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.