This article contains spoilers for Halloween Ends and descriptions of some gnarly gore.
Halloween Ends is a deeply bizarre movie to end a trilogy on. While the previous movies in David Gordon Green’s reboot series worked well as slashers (especially the first), Halloween Ends spends a huge amount of time introducing us to a new character named Corey, showing him getting bullied by high schoolers, and generally setting up way more new stuff than you would expect from a movie with the word "ends" in the title. It takes so long to bring back the Boogeyman in the William Shatner mask that, if you hadn't seen the poster or trailers, you might wonder if Michael Myers was even in it. Halloween Ends isn't the worst horror movie I've seen this year — that's still Men — but it generally feels like the characters from the first two movies have been beamed into another series, before finally swerving back to the arc we thought we were following for the final act.
It's a big swing, sure, but it's the kind of big swing where the batter chucks their timber into the stands.
What Green’s first Halloween showed is that you can make a slasher that's classically structured, but still deeply imaginative. While the original Halloween hasn’t been topped by its sequels, there are things that new movies can do that it didn’t by virtue of being set in a different time period. Halloween (2018) had a terrific sequence set in a backyard that played with the horror of motion-activated lights. Halloween Ends largely invests its imagination in the wrong places, chopping the slasher structure into bloody bits, and rearranging them until they're barely recognizable as belonging to the same genre.
But, as horror fans know, it can be worth watching the 13th film in a franchise, even if it isn't particularly good, because there may be some interesting stuff buried under the blood and bodies. There isn't much to love about Halloween Ends, but there was one gorily inspired kill that broke through the boredom and got me to laugh out loud. When Corey gets mocked by a local radio DJ, we've already seen him kill an old homeless man, so it isn't surprising that the DJ ends up on the wrong end of a knife. But, as in all slashers, it’s how he ends up on the wrong end of the knife that’s interesting.
While the DJ is spinning records on his turntable in the station, chair dancing to the music, Corey sneaks into the booth. The new killer in town stabs the DJ through the throat, then when his tongue lolls out, he cuts it off. The severed appendage falls onto the still spinning turntable and rides it around its rotation, screwing up the sound when it passes under the needle. Eventually, the record stops playing.
It's a gross, gory kill, and it's one of the few moments in the movie where Green is able to deliver what audiences go to a slasher to see: people getting mutilated and killed in disgusting and surprising ways. Green makes the mistake of attempting to rebuild the foundation, when all that's really needed is a bold coat of paint. Slashers are like comedy that way. You don't go to a comedy expecting to be surprised by the structure, you just want to be surprised by creativity within the confines. Halloween Ends manages that, but just this once.
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