Movie Review: “Halloween Ends” — for now

There’s a grandeur to the finest moments in David Gordon Green’s “Halloween Ends,” a film meant to wrap up the saga that made Jamie Lee Curtis famous.

Green, an indie film mainstay before “Pineapple Express” made him famous, finishes up his “Halloween” trilogy by having Curtis recreate iconic shots and moments from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978).

He folds in flashback montages that remind us of all Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her family have endured from the monstrous Michael Myers. And he exits with the serenely spooky song that Carpenter put on a car radio back in 1978, the unironically ironic “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

Perfect.

But the direction Green and a tag team of screenwriters take the characters and the story in this finale is hard to defend, harder to swallow. So, “pure evil” is contagious, “an infection?” Wait, it’s also learned behavior, created by environment, bad parenting and cruel peer pressure?

Even by Hollywood’s twisted “cinematic psychology” standards, that’s messed up.

The present day finds Laurie writing her memoir about her life of “looking in the shadows for the boogeyman.” Her daughter (Judy Greer) died on a previous Halloween. Granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) is now a nurse, looking for career advancement, trying to shrug off a stalky law enforcement officer she used to date.

But there’s a new guy on her radar. Corey (Rohan Campbell of TV’s “Hardy Boys” reboot) is a nerdy, shy 20something who is henpecked at home, struggling to make college money working at the auto repair shop with a handy scrapyard and car crusher on site.

We meet him as he’s called in to babysit a rich family’s brat. And it’s when that night goes horrifically, accidentally wrong that Corey gets on Laurie’s radar. She instinctively throws this traumatized young fellow in the path of her similarly traumatized and stigmatized granddaughter.

“I know what it’s like to have everybody looking at you like they think they know you,” Allyson says.

But Corey has “issues.” He’s being bullied by kids still in high school. And then there’s the homeless guy watching him, and that culvert running into the bowels of tiny, traumatized Haddonfield, Illinois. Wonder who lives in there?

Green and his college pal, the comic actor and writer Danny McBride, ensure that the jokes in this “Halloween” land. A child cracking that he’s not afraid of Michael Myers “because he always goes after the BABYsitter, not the kid” is always going to be funny.

But as the narrative wanders off the straight and narrow, we lose track of Laurie for stretches. Relationships seem forced, conflicts feel contrived and logic flies out the window.

And while one can appreciate the effort to deconstruct “how monsters are made,” the rationale is as leaky as your average Michael Myers stabbing victim.

Creative killings aside, when you leave Laurie out and then have to back-engineer ways to shoehorn her back into the story, when you water down the basic rivalry — Laurie vs. Michael — when you decide that victims are making the leap from near-death trauma to “burn it all down” mass murderers, you’ve lost me.

Pacing is another problem, as this film feels “saga” length and feels much longer than it is.

Give Green props for all that he got right, bringing Curtis back and making her the focus, for starters. But all involved seem to have painted themselves into a narrative corner that they weren’t able to write their way out of.

If Green wanted to remind us how all three of his “Halloween” films have a whiff of “there’s something off” about them, at least succeeded in that. As he’s filming he new “Exorcist” reboot, and will probably never get back to making the fascinating indie fare like “All the Real Girls,” “Joe” and “Prince Avalanche,” I guess that makes David Gordon Green one more victim of Michael Myers.

Rating: R for bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references.

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Rohan Campbell, Andi Matichak, Keraun Harris, Kyle Richards and Will Patton.

Credits: Directed by David Gordon Green, scripted by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green. based on characters from the John Carpenter/Debra Hill film. A Universal release.

Running time: 1:51

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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