Can we picture Halloweens in the future without a brand-new holiday? If David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends, the conclusion to the remake trilogy he started in 2018, puts an end to a 44-year-old series, then we might have to. Although the title is missing a question mark, astute viewers will immediately realize that Michael Myers, one of cinema’s worst boogeymen, is unlikely to stay buried for very long.

Additionally, in Halloween Ends, Green briefly seems to be extending a helping hand in terms of creativity to any potential successors before withdrawing it in favor of business as usual. Since the events of Halloween Kills four years ago, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has abandoned her gun-toting, doomsday-preparedness persona in favor of a cottage-core aesthetic and memoir writing. She and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) have bafflingly chosen to stay in Haddonfield, Illinois, where the locals continue to hold Laurie accountable for sparking Myers’ most recent stabbing spree and, presumably, for their declining property prices.

Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a geeky young man whose disastrous babysitting antics three years prior ended in a dead child, a murder conviction, and an acquittal, is also shunned by the townsfolk. He’s obviously the ideal boyfriend material, so Laurie introduces him to Allyson after protecting him from the town bullies. Everything is going well until Corey runs into Myers one night in a dark cave beneath a bridge and realizes there may be more to life than putting up with taunts and crushing humiliation.

Corey’s relationship with the obviously aging Myers (again, played by James Jude Courtney) begins as an oddly ill-defined one that falls between between caretaker and understudy. However, because Corey changes while around evil, and because becoming an acolyte reportedly boosts libido, his too quick transition represents a squandered opportunity for the franchise. In order to give Corey a clear context for succumbing to the temptation of carnage, Green may have crafted a passing-the-torch movie by amplifying Corey’s psychological trauma. Additionally, this would have been a wonderful complement to Laurie’s claim that evil never truly dies; it simply takes on new forms.

But worn-out movie characters struggle to change shape, so Green and his three co-writers quickly return to the reassuring beats of the body count. There is a sweet reunion between Laurie and a flirtatious Officer Frank Hawkins this time around after the town’s residents nearly hijacked the last part (nice to see you, Will Patton, however briefly). He is unaware that she is already married.

This franchise’s foundation has always been the twisted relationship between hunter and prey that is prevalent in many serial-killer scenarios (though rarely more explicitly and effectively than in Bryan Fullers terrific TV show Hannibal). In an apparent effort to pay tribute to it, Green has created a film that is less frenzied and more intimate than its predecessor and that progresses with a somber finality. Its most moving image, in my opinion, is that of a severed tongue spinning idly on a record player. Perhaps this is Greens’ way of signaling to us that he, at least, has nothing else to say.

R-rated Halloween ends. Do not claim not to understand. 1 hour, 51 minutes total running time. Currently playing in cinemas and accessible on Peacock.

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