Connect with us
Michael vs Laurie
Credit: Universal Studios

Features

The Halloween Ends Controversy Explained: A Franchise vs. A Director’s Vision

Halloween Ends is proving to be controversial. What happens when an auteur’s sensibilities clash with franchise format?

Was it right to sideline Michael Myers in Halloween Ends?

At the time of this writing, Halloween Ends has played in theatres for a little over a week (also on the Peacock streaming service for our American friends). Not only have its box office returns been the lowest in writer-director David Gordon Green’s trilogy, but its reception from critics and the public has been comparativelyweak. Anyone remotely interested in its reception amongst moviegoers and online is familiar with the common complaints by now. There isn’t enough of Michael Myers. Why does the third and concluding chapter in a trilogy introduce a brand-new protagonist? The final fight between Laurie Strode and The Shape feels tacked on. Etc, etc. 

There’s no beating around the bush. Halloween Ends is, given expectations, an odd way to conclude a major story arc, one that spans 44 years and covers, as per this timeline, 4 movies. Story elements hinted at in its immediate predecessor, Halloween Kills, are barely followed up on if at all, the plot takes a major detour away from Laurie Strode, and it makes the franchise’s antagonist look weak and less threatening than his usual self. Why in the world would a filmmaker as astute as David Gordon Green, whose track record is rather strong, make such choices? 

The Shape in Halloween Ends
Credit: Universal Studios

With that question in mind, we’ll look at the latest entry in the Halloween franchise from a specific angle. Just as it features a big battle between foes Laurie and Michael, it’s also constantly at battle with itself, between interesting thematic tapestry and point-by-point story beats.

What’s the Plan?

David Gordon Green has hinted at his thought process in interviews, acknowledging that each entry in his trilogy is distinct. The plans for each were different from the early stages of the developmental process. Considering that his career has seen impressive highs, surely there is rhyme and reason to the relativeness madness that is Ends

As revealed in the AV Club interview linked above, the 2018 film’s purpose was to re-introduce moviegoers to the series. Fair enough, given that the last time people had seen a Halloween movie it was a bonkers sequel to the Rob Zombie rebooted timeline. The sequel, Kills, was about the chaos and violence that rocks Haddonfield on October 31st. In stark contrast, Ends is a love story. 

Virtually anyone who has seen the capping chapter can attest to that argument. A considerable chunk of the picture’s middle third is devoted to the romance between Corey (Rohan Campbell) and Allyson (Andi Matichak). The younger Strode works as a nurse at the local hospital and is smitten the moment she sees Corey come in to care for a wound. At the time it’s unclear where this plot beat is headed given the film’s creepy, bewildering opening stanza. Ultimately, their unashamed love is guided by two sister forces. They both make one another feel good, albeit for different reasons. For Corey, Allyson is someone who can love him despite his horrific past. Conversely, Allyson has someone she can relate to given that she too is viewed differently by the townsfolk of Haddonfield. 

Allyson and Corey.
Credit: Universal Studios

Each is both cut from the cloth of tragedy and, given that her tragic past is tied to Michael Myers, one can argue that this plot does link to the overarching Halloween story. It does, technically. However, the love story eats up so much run time that one can just as easily reason that the attempt is somewhat misguided. 

And then there is Corey. 

Changing Shape

Understandably, the most prominent criticism launched at Halloween Ends is the introduction and in-depth development of a character viewers have never seen or heard of before. This is no fault of the actor Rohan Campbell. His performance has been met warmly by most critics and fans. As a thespian tasked with playing the emotions the script asks of him, the young Canadian puts on a good show. Whatever arrows the film’s naysayers have stocked in their quiver, they aren’t intended for Campbell.

The character of Corey is complex and his inclusion and attempted development results in the picture’s most controversial quality. His presence is the main reason why there is so little of Michael Myers in the film. On the flip side, just as we swiftly built the case that Allyson’s place in the story is linked to The Shape, so too is that of the young man. It isn’t as if it has nothing to do with the Halloween arc. 

Laurie Strode’s opening narration (by which she reads her memoir aloud) reveals that in the aftermath of Michael’s most recent massacre in 2018, Haddonfield has not healed. More alarmingly, its people have spiralled into a miasma of tension, anger, depression, and confusion. In a lamentable way, Myers has become a scapegoat, someone or something to explain why the people are rude, frustrated, and resort to physical and emotional violence. Fear has been replaced by social depravity. 

Corey and Laurie in Halloween Ends
Credit: Universal Studios

Enter Corey Cunningham, 21 years old (in 2019) with a bright future ahead of him. His Halloween night babysitting goes epically wrong, with the child under his care perishing in an atrocious accident. When the film flashes forward to 2022 after the opening credits, Michael has not been seen in 4 years. Corey joins Michael in the unenviable club of spectres that Haddonfield can point to and hate, unleashing its fury and prejudice. 

What follows is a descent into madness for the doomed man. By way of the town shunning him and putting him down, and because of his fateful encounter with Michael Myers in the sewage canals, Corey eventually turns evil. Director Green obviously has something on his mind by weaving this kind of yarn. A society can perpetuate evil (in whatever form it adopts) specifically by not opening its mind and heart to the unknown. By choosing not to understand, to not at least ask healthy questions, people remain stuck in the default position of prejudice and hate. One supposes the filmmaker is going even further to make the point by having members of a high school marching band, of all people, become side villains. Quite literally anyone can push evil in the direction it needs to go when they are blinded by misunderstanding. 

When Corey comes face to face with Michael, he sees an out, a perverted inspiration to give in to the vileness that everyone in town claims he embodies. It’s not the worst idea anyone could conjure up.

Targeting the Wrong Victims

Much like with the love angle, Corey’s story is not entirely wrong-headed. There is a logic to what’s happening (within the context of a series featuring a nearly unkillable psycho murderer). The story Halloween Ends wants to tell very much fits into the film category that a subsection of critics like describing as “elevated horror.” There is nothing inherently wrong with that, despite John Carpenter himself barely knowing what people are talking about when they use the term. And he’s a horror movie maestro!

As alluded to in our non-spoiler review, it should come as no surprise that a director like David Gordon Green has that knack within him. He’s an accomplished filmmaker who has made a comfortable name for himself and he evidently loves Halloween movies. He’s made three! 

The Shape in Halloween Ends
Credit: Universal Studios

Of course, therein lies the source of criticism of this latest entry: it’s not Halloween enough. The criticism isn’t wholly inaccurate. Two names that come to mind immediately when someone says the franchise’s name are “Michael Myers” and “Laurie Strode”, yet for all intents and purposes, both are supporting players in the movie advertised as the epic conclusion of their rivalry. In that light, it’s difficult to eye-roll at the fans who want their money back. To further back their arguments, the marketing in no Shape or form suggests that the film is about Corey and not Laurie Strode. 

Article Ends

To quote the inimitable Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, the studio and filmmakers spent so much time discussing if they could, they didn’t stop to ask if they should. 

That’s hypothetical, obviously. Only the people the in the pre-production meetings know what was discussed and how. One hopes they did, at a minimum, spend a minute or two asking if this was in fact the best way to cap off the saga. But given how unexpected and, in the eyes of a lot of people, unrelated this movie is, it’s a little surprising they went ahead with this idea regardless. 

But this appears to be the era of studio filmmaking we live in. Kill off Wolverine in Logan. Turn the character of Luke Skywalker on its head in The Last Jedi. Have James Bond commit the ultimate sacrifice for the first time ever in No Time to Die. Whether those movies or Halloween Ends are good or not is, as always, a matter of personal preference (the author doesn’t have many major qualms with any of them, for whatever that’s worth). One does get the underlying sense that some of these conversations between the talent and the money backers go the way of:

“Let’s do it anyways. After all, it’s under this much beloved, profitable banner, so if the public doesn’t care for it, we’ll have made money regardless.”

Technically, they’re not wrong. Halloween Ends is a prime example of a filmmaker indulging in their cinematic sensibilities. In of itself said urge is perfectly fine. It’s what makes a given writer and director unique. The potential murkiness is when those sensibilities try to mesh with a pre-established format. Do David Gordon Green’s film aspirations marry well with a Halloween film? Do those of any auteurs couple smoothly with any well-known pop culture IP? The movie is over, but this is not where the debate Ends. 

-Edgar Chaput

Written By

A native of Montréal, Québec, Edgar Chaput has written and podcasted about pop culture since 2011. At first a blogger, then a contributor to Tilt's previous iteration (Sound on Sight), he now helps cover tv and film on a weekly basis. In addition to enjoying the Hollywood of yesteryear and martial arts movies, he is a devoted James Bond fan. English, French, and decent at faking Spanish, don't hesitate to poke him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/double_oh_Pop), Facebook or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/edchap14/).

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022

Wrestling

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Review: One of Godzilla’s Finest Recent Outings

Culture

Lost Bullet 2 Lost Bullet 2

Lost Bullet 2 Delivers The Finest of Vehicular Mayhem

Film

Greatest Film Noir Movies Greatest Film Noir Movies

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 1

Culture

Long-Awaited 5-25-77 is a Coming-of-Age Triumph 

Film

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2 Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2

Culture

Blockbuster, photo via Netflix Blockbuster, photo via Netflix

Blockbuster: Netflix’s Latest Workplace Comedy Misses the Mark

Culture

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Personifies A Duel for the Ages

Culture

Streaming services Streaming services

Streaming Wars and Streaming Headaches

Culture

Prince Namor The Submariner Prince Namor The Submariner

Who is Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in Wakanda Forever?

Culture

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Breathes New Life into the Classic Fable

Culture

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a Flawed but Worthy Follow-Up

Film

A Dickensian Disaster: Spirited is a Practically Unwatchable Take on A Christmas Carol

Film

Philadelphia Film Festival Philadelphia Film Festival

2022 Philadelphia Film Festival Feature Roundup

Film

Montreal Screwjob Montreal Screwjob

25 Years of the Montreal Screwjob, the Moment that Changed Everything in Wrestling 

Culture

Punch Drunk Love Punch Drunk Love

20 Years Ago: Punch-Drunk Love Starred Adam Sandler as You’d Never Seen Him 

Film

Connect