Tag Archives: David Gordon Green

Halloween Ends (2022) Review

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Halloween Ends

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson
Will Patton as Deputy Frank Hawkins
Rohan Campbell as Corey Cunningham
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace
James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers/The Shape
Director: David Gordon Green

Four years after her last encounter with masked killer Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is living with her granddaughter and trying to finish her memoir. Myers hasn’t been seen since, and Laurie finally decides to liberate herself from rage and fear and embrace life. However, when a young man stands accused of murdering a boy that he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that forces Laurie to confront the evil she can’t control.

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I was very curious about Halloween Ends, but admittedly was very nervous going into it. David Gordon Green’s trilogy of Halloween movies following the original has been very divisive. I liked the first movie Halloween (2018) despite its issues, and thought that it would’ve been a solid conclusion to the Halloween series. While the second movie Halloween Kills had its moments, it was a very mixed bag and was a bit of a mess, and so I wasn’t confident in the upcoming Halloween Ends. Once I heard of the initial reactions to the new movie however, I started to be intrigued; so far its probably the most polarising movie in the franchise outside of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. It definitely has problems and could’ve handled some aspects better, but it was way better than what I was expecting it to be.

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Much of the marketing frames Halloween Ends as this big and epic final confrontation between Laurie and Michael Myers (for the last time), however that is not at all representative of what the movie is about. Right from the opening scene you can tell that Ends is openly goes out of its way to do something different, which I immediately respect especially when it comes to this franchise. Ends is an intimate and slower paced Halloween movie, in stark contrast to the previous movie Halloween Kills which upped the scale, violence, and yes, kills. From the trailers, Ends looked like it would conform to a generic finale, but it almost feels like an aftermath film, with more of an introspective angle for the story. Even the kills aren’t that frequent and are relatively tame until the final act. The cast of characters are relatively small, and aren’t just 2 dimensional people for Myers to plow through. When certain people are killed, they are actually important to the story or other characters, so it actually means something beyond just gore for the audience. I even felt like the family drama aspect with the Strodes works better here than in the last two movies. Many will be (and are already) disappointed in the fact that you don’t see Michael Myers all that much in this movie. Much of the movie focuses on a brand new character named Corey Cunningham; he’s already one of the most polarising aspects of a Halloween movie and that’s saying something. I think that the Corey storyline generally works and is one of the best parts of the movie. An idea that Halloween Kills (and other Halloween movies) touched on is Michael Myers influencing people to be evil. This is something that Ends leans into and fully realises, and its conveyed through Corey’s storyline. With this, the story of Ends closely resembles Christine (from Stephen King and John Carpenter) more than a Halloween movie, and I mean this as a compliment. It is an interesting take on trauma, fear, isolation and guilt, and is better handled than the past couple Halloween movies.

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That’s not to say that all of it works, there is a forced relationship between him and Allyson which comes out of nowhere. Also, Corey’s change was a bit too sudden, and it feels like David Gordon Green didn’t quite follow through on a lot of the ideas that he had. It probably would’ve worked better if it wasn’t also saddled with the burden of being a conclusion. In fact, I think this story might’ve been better told if it had been the start of this new trilogy. It is weird to have it as the ending, and it almost feels like it is underserving Michael Myers and Laurie. Laurie is still a notable presence in the movie, but much like in Kills, her part is seemingly reduced. Also, a consequence of increasing the focus on the Corey storyline is that Myers almost feels like a non entity, you even forget about him at many points. He might not have had a massive amount of screentime in the original film, but he was in it enough to remind you that he was there. Its also very jarring seeing Myers as much weaker and less active after the last movie established him as basically unkillable and unstoppable. The pacing does drag a little in the beginning and middle, nonetheless I was intrigued throughout. The third act has a fight between Laurie and Michael Myers (not much of a spoiler there), and while there could’ve been more to it, the fight felt personal and fitting for the movie’s overall approach, and I was satisfied with the conclusion.

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The performances are pretty strong overall. Once again Jamie Lee Curtis is really good as Laurie Strode. Like in Kills, Ends does distance itself from Laurie somewhat, but thankfully the cast of characters in this film isn’t nearly as crowded and so she gets to do more here. I think that this is the best version of Laurie in this new trilogy, there is a spark of human life here that just wasn’t in the last two movies. Here we see her attempt to move on with her life 4 years after Michael Myers returned in the events of Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills; she seems mostly fine but everything is still hanging on by a thread. I thought that was handled very well. Andi Matichak also returns as Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson and is really good, she’s also at her best here within this new trilogy as a more dynamic and fully realised character. Rohan Campbell plays the critical character of Corey Cunningham and I thought he definitely helped to sell this character. The change in Corey might’ve been a bit too sudden, but Campbell nonetheless does very well at showing the different sides to him.

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This is the third time that David Gordon Green has directed a Halloween film, and while there are some faults the films, I think that his direction has generally been good. There is a bleak and moody atmosphere here, and it somehow works better with this slower pace. As usual, the cinematography is great, and there are some shots that look more out of a contained and lower budget horror movie than a Halloween sequel (that’s a good thing). There aren’t a lot of deaths and they don’t reach the heights of the more brutal kills in the series, but there are still a couple memorable moments. Some of the best parts of this trilogy have been the new scores from composers John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. Its incredible as usual, greatly setting the tone of the movie and adding to the atmosphere.

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Halloween Ends definitely isn’t for everyone. The slower paced and introspective approach will be jarring for most people expecting a typical Halloween movie, and that Corey plotline in particular is going to divide people. However it mostly works for me. The ambitious ideas are refreshing and are at the very list respectable, and I found myself interested in what was happening beyond just waiting for Michael Myers to kill again. This is helped by some solid performances, good direction from David Gordon Green, and another outstanding Halloween score. While I do have my issues with this trilogy (mainly Kills), I appreciate that each entry is distinctly different. So while it could’ve ended on a fitting note with Halloween 2018, I’m glad that this trilogy exists.

Halloween Kills (2021) Review

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Halloween Kills

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen Nelson
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson
Will Patton as Deputy Frank Hawkins
Thomas Mann as younger Frank Hawkins
Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle
Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam
Dylan Arnold as Cameron Elam
Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace
Director: David Gordon Green

The nightmare isn’t over as unstoppable killer Michael Myers escapes from Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) trap to continue his ritual bloodbath. Injured and taken to the hospital, Laurie fights through the pain as she inspires residents of Haddonfield, Ill., to rise up against Myers. Taking matters into their own hands, the Strode women and other survivors form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael and end his reign of terror once and for all.

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I was looking forward to Halloween Kills. I quite enjoyed Halloween (2018), it definitely had its issues but as a follow up to the original film set decades later, I thought it was really good. After the success of that movie, two sequels were announced, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. I had high hopes for Kills despite receiving one of the most divisive receptions for a Halloween film. While I’m prepared to say I like the movie, it is very disappointing.

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I could tell early on that the movie had some issues. The first 10 minutes are actually a flashback of the night of Halloween (1978). As well done as it was, essentially it’s just repeated information and doesn’t add a whole lot. That aside, plotwise it’s all a mess. While there were a number of characters in Halloween (2018), the focus was mainly on the Strode family. However after the ending with them almost killing Michael Myers in the last movie, Halloween Kills underutilises and sidelines them. Laurie Strode gets the worst treatment at all, having less than 15 minutes of screentime. The story mostly moves into a story about mob mentality as the people of Haddonfield are hunting down Michael Myers. While there were some good ideas and an effective scene or two, the attempts at social commentary and exploring cultural issues were misguided and didn’t work in execution. Some of the scenes where the people attempt to kill Myers are fine, they’re at least better than the scenes where people stand around and just declare that “evil dies tonight”. The movie also introduces the idea of Myers’s influence potentially turning the people of Haddonfield into monsters. However it only lingers on that idea for 5-10 minutes max before forgetting about it entirely. I really didn’t like was how they brought back characters from the 1978 film who were somewhat affected by Myers. It’s partially because it feels like the movie is relying so much on nostalgia, and tying all these people into the plot just felt so contrived.

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The other aspect of the plot is that of Michael Myers continuing to kill. Although I like the portrayal of Myers here, his scenes just weren’t the best. Halloween Kills definitely leans into him being superhuman, he’s comically unkillable. While the kills are definitely there, the encounters with him are more ridiculous and not scary, and they generally feel the same way with little variety or emotional impact. It doesn’t help that you already know that Michael Myers doesn’t die in this one, given that the next film is titled Halloween Ends. So any expectation or tension that he might die in this movie is just not there. The third act is where it becomes a conventional Halloween movie and gives up trying whatever they were attempting before. While I would generally call it a lazy fallback, it definitely works a lot better than most of what came before. The structure is a mess as it jumps between these three aspects of the story, none of them done very well. The story is dull and lacks the suspense and atmosphere from the 1978 and even the 2018 film. Even looking outside of the plot, the script is a mess. First of all, the tone. Halloween (2018) had quite a bit of humour in the film that felt quite out of place, but you were able to see pass them, and it at least focused up in the second half. However, the tone in Halloween Kills is all over the place. There is the aforementioned story about trauma, as well as the town getting ready to fight the shape that haunted them. However, it increases the jokes and silliness, and as much as I want to say that this is deliberately leaning towards camp (especially with the over the top kills), it is still taking itself seriously. The dialogue is definitely schlocky and silly but unfortunately not in an intentional camp way. Worst of all was how expository it was, dumping a lot of information on you and spells everything out in a rather insulting way, especially when its just repeating information from the past films. I think for all the issues it has, the most damning thing about Halloween Kills was how reluctant it is to move its story. It doesn’t really serve to have much purpose outside of following the last film, and doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. Only a few notable things happen, and not a lot is learnt. It just feels like it’s there to be a filler movie before the actual finale with Halloween Ends.

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The acting and characters are a mixed bag. Out of all of them, the highlights were the Strodes. While there is unfortunately much less of them, the trio of Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are great. It’s a shame that they don’t get many scenes together and they feel rather wasted. Laurie Strode’s Jamie Lee Curtis is shockingly underutilised especially given the last movie. This leaves Greer and Matichak to have more screentime, and they do work well in their parts at least. Unfortunately, Halloween Kills makes the decision to rely more on its supporting characters, a number of them meant to be people who were around for the night on Halloween 1978. It certainly doesn’t help that the characters in this movie make some really dumb decisions. This is a movie where someone makes a big rousing speech and declares that they will stay together as they hunt the killer, and shortly afterwards they split up. This is also a movie where a couple discover that someone is in their house, and their first instinct is to go inside and confront him. It only makes the non-Strode scenes even more frustrating to watch.

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David Gordon Green’s direction was one of the best parts of the previous movie, and his work here is good, if not as great. The cinematography is gorgeous and stunning but devoid of the smooth long takes that made the first movie so effective. The atmosphere just isn’t there for this movie, and doesn’t really build up much suspense. Michael Myers himself is certainly one of the best parts of the movie. I liked his look with the burnt mask, and he is effectively menacing. However, his kill/scare scenes are a bit of a mixed bag. The title for the film is certainly apt, and the kills do deliver. This is one of the most violent Halloween movies, up there with the Rob Zombie films. It is brutal, gory and violent, so credit for that. However there was always something that irked me about those scenes. First of all the executions are what I imagine much of the Friday the 13th kills are like, not for scares or horror but for the audience to see the killer violently dispatching people. In fact, they felt more like Mortal Kombat fatalities more than anything else. There’s also something rather mean spirited in the way they just throw these kills in for the pleasure of the audience, and for as creatively violent as they are, ironically only 3-4 were memorable. One of the strongest aspects of the last Halloween movie was John Carpenter’s score which was amazing. While I don’t like his Halloween Kills score as much, it’s still one of the highlights and is distinctly different.

Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills is unfortunately quite disappointing. The script is an absolute mess that tries to be so many things and can’t deliver on any of them. Ultimately it feels like a placeholder and filler movie, a movie just to draw out the conclusion with only a few things that move the film forward. It’s not without its strengths. It is generally well directed, I liked Michael Myers, and although they were under-utilised I liked the main three actors. I just hope that David Gordon Green and co. can pull off Halloween Ends because I’m much less confident in it after watching Kills.

Halloween (2018) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen
Andi Matichak as Allyson
Will Patton as Frank Hawkins
Virginia Gardner as Vicky
Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers/The Shape
Director: David Gordon Green

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. – but this time, she’s ready for him.

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The original Halloween in 1978 has been cemented as one of the all time horror classics. When it comes to the sequels however, none of them really received a great amount of love, with most of them seeming to have mixed results at best. Even the remakes by Rob Zombie were really divisive. It’s been 16 years since the last film of the main series, and 9 years since Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 and now we are finally getting another Halloween movie. This time its not another remake, instead it’s a direct sequel to the original set 40 years ago (appropriately), not acknowledging any of the prior sequels. I really dug the first movie (it’s the only movie in the series I’ve seen), and with Jamie Lee Curtis returning and David Gordon Green (director of Stronger, Joe and Pineapple Express) directing this, things were looking rather good for the newest instalment. As the direct follow up to the original movie, Halloween 2018 succeeds really well. It doesn’t quite instil the amount of horror and creepiness that I would’ve liked but I nonetheless had a great time with it.

As previously mentioned, Halloween 2018 (I’m calling it that to separate it from the first movie otherwise its going to get really confusing) retcons all the Halloween movies except for the first movie. It also retconned the whole thing about Michael and Laurie being siblings from Halloween 2. Unless I mistook some aspects of things, it seemed like it might’ve retconned some things about the ending of the original film as well. On top of that they wanted to tell the story with Laurie Strode being traumatised, and how trauma stays with the victim and how it affects others (particularly her family). If there’s anything that Halloween 2018 has contributed that the other Halloween movies seemingly hadn’t, it’s that. That whole aspect was done really well. The writing of the movie was pretty good as well. One thing that it does get better than the original movie is the dialogue, the first movie could have some good dialogue and some really bad dialogue, but Halloween 2018 has some consistently good dialogue. There is also quite a noticeable amount of humour in it, and it’s not surprising considering that Danny McBride is one of the writers. None of it took away from the movie in terms of scares, and does make the experience more fun. This brings me to the next aspect, the scares, Halloween 2018 didn’t really scare me. Now the original Halloween didn’t scare me much but it still handled the tension pretty well. While there is some good tension in the third act of Halloween 2018, the rest of it wasn’t that creepy or that tense at all, I still had fun with it but I was hoping for more of that. Most horror movies don’t scare me so this wasn’t a huge bummer for me, I just wished there was more than what we got. The movie also has some clichés and tropes that follow on from the Halloween movies, for example some people do some really stupid things that put themselves in direct danger. With that said, it’s not an easy task making a newer Halloween movie, because if you remove a lot of the tropes and clichés that might be holding the movie back, you might remove the aspects that make the movies what they are. It wasn’t a huge problem for me, just a little annoying to see some of them re-emerging. Although at some points they do poke some fun at them. Halloween 2018 is an hour and 40 minutes long, which was overall the right length for the movie, it certainly helps that the pacing is good, considerably faster than the original movie.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is one of the best part of the movie, she’s fantastic here. 4 decades from the first movie, Laurie is traumatised and has basically prepared for Michael’s return since his killing spree on Halloween, something that has pushed her away from everyone, especially her daughter and granddaughter. She is convincing as a strong and capable person, yet is very vulnerable at the same time, it still feels like Michael Myers could easily kill her. The rest of the cast also works really well. Judy Geer and Andi Matichak play Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter respectively and they also did very well.

David Gordon Green’s direction is pretty great. The way a lot of the movie is shot is reminiscent of the way that the original Halloween was shot, the cinematography on a whole was great. There is also a tracking shot following Michael Myers in one part and it has to be one of the best directed sequences of the Halloween movies. There are even scenes and moments which are calling make to the original movie, and it never feels forced, you’re aware of it but its not like over-relying on nostalgia. The violence of Halloween 2018 is a lot more bloody and gory than the original movie. At times the violence is minimalistic and restrained, at other times it is fully brutal and on display. Think 80% of the graphic violence from Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies mixed with the silent but deadly Michael Myers from the original. He’s also gotten very creative with his kills, stand out kill involves Jack-O-Lanterns, that’s all I’ll say. Michael Myers is back and with a vengeance. As I said, the movie didn’t really convey a very creepy or unsettling vibe in the movie (although it does have some good tension in the third act), but it does make Myers really an intimidating force of nature. The score is once again done by John Carpenter and it is great, its very similar to the score of the original, yet updated and modernised enough and really adds a lot to the movie. Both films wouldn’t work as well without them. On a side note, Michael Myer’s mask is great here. Just on appearance alone, its up there with the original Halloween and the Rob Zombie Halloween movies as the masks that are good.

Halloween 2018 is a great follow up to the 1978 classic. As a horror movie its not as great as I would’ve liked, it isn’t very scary and falls into many of the clichés and tropes that the original movie and series was known for. But much of the aspects are praiseworthy, the cast is good (with Jamie Lee Curtis being particularly great), Michael Myers is a force of nature and it’s entertaining overall. I haven’t seen the other Halloween movies after the original but I can’t imagine that the sequels are better than this one. I feel like Halloween 2018 ended things perfectly for the Halloween series but I have a feeling that there’s going to be more of them. If that’s really what’s going to happen, I hope they at least add or do something to make each movie feel fresh and new.