After 14 movies, 44 years and about 7000 gory stabbings, stranglings and assorted other violent murders, the Halloween franchise finally breathes its last. And for all that this age-old slasher series has felt played out in recent years, this final instalment is a pleasant surprise: not massively scary, but a nimble and surprising enough epitaph to a franchise that hit a nadir as recently as its last film, the irredeemably bad Halloween Kills.
It’s the same creative team here: director David Gordon Green and a posse of co-writers that includes his old stoner-com buddy Danny McBride. This time, though, they wisely shift away from the old formula of having The Shape murdering his way through a terrrorised Haddonfield and freshen it up with some decent ideas about how collective trauma manifests in a community. (Not, surprisingly, by everyone immediately hiring U-Haul trucks and legging it to the other side of the country.)
Instead, Halloween Ends offers up an eerie kind of father-son dynamic as lost soul twentysomething Corey (Rohan Campbell), an inadvertent victim of the town’s enduring thirst for recrimination, reacts psychotically to a buried trauma of his own. An encounter with Michael Myers, now living in semi-retirement in a storm drain, sparks a surrogate rampage with Corey acting as his psychotic proxy.
The waning Myers remains a force of motiveless evil, ready to spring – or creak – back into action, but this new evil is intriguingly developed and nicely played by Campbell with a believable mix of hurt and snowballing rage. A Heathers-like amour fou between him and Laurie Strode’s granddaughter (Andi Matichak) is a smart warm-up to the main event.
Because this is still a Halloween movie and we’re all here for Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie finally graduating from scream queen to full-fledged badass. If the character, while still loveable and much more prominent than in Halloween Kills, is a pastiche of her original John Carpenter iteration, then so is the movie. But it’s just got enough fresh ideas, laughs (mostly intentional) and queasy jump scares to make for a raucous Friday night at the movies.
In cinemas worldwide Oct 14.