Note: Spoilers ahead for Halloween Ends.
Boy oh boy Halloween Ends seems to have provoked the intensely polarized reactions that Joey predicted it would. Some fans are furious that this is the swan song for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and the iconic embodiment of capital-E Evil Personified Michael Myers:
Though others have joined Joey in applauding its willingness to go to unexpected places and challenge our expectations for what this iconic slasher “legacyquel” can explore:
And it’s that last tweet that sticks out to me. I don’t mean to call out or disparage Megan; I don’t know her personally and for all I know she’s brilliant and thoughtful on movies. But it sure is interesting to me that some people are treating the thirteenth installment of a decades-old slasher franchise on its fourth rebooted continuity as a “new” horror movie. So many of us are devoting our time and attention to figuring out if this was the “right” way to end this series rather than even consider the possibility that this should never have been a series in the first place, and if it is even possible to do something new while coloring in the lines of such an old book. The fact that the story didn’t end here:
That, my beautiful readers, is the actual problem with Halloween Ends and this entire late-stage trilogy. Seems like the addition of some misunderstood kid with a weird connection to Michael Myers as the new main character did not go over well with everyone, but is Corey really any more bizarrely shoehorned into this movie than Jamie Lloyd’s baby was in The Curse of Michael Myers? Does anyone even remember the character Jamie Lloyd, or the fact that there was an entire trilogy of Halloween films dedicated to her being terrorized by her uncle Michael Myers? That continuity was totally ignored in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, by the way. Yeah, for those of you too young to remember, this whole “Bringing Back An Older Laurie Strode For One Last Showdown” shindig was attempted once before for Gen-X’ers, which stuck for a grand total of four years before being artificially extended into a sequel that fans despised and then being rebooted again five years after that.
Over and over again, we see new attempts to “get it right” in coming up with some conclusion that would do justice to the closest any American film has ever come to being a truly perfect slasher, and over and over again, we act surprised when we’re disappointed when the big grand finale lands with a thud. Why did we think this time would be different? Getting hit with an out-of-nowhere plot turn going down a seemingly unrelated narrative cul-de-sac was inevitable because anything else would have to just be a soggy replay of the first one, like the middle-aged sad sack who hires a call girl to dress up as his high school sweetheart despite his actual high school sweetheart being the equally disappointed fortysomething he married.
We don’t want a rehashing of the original Halloween because nothing could ever top or even come close to the original Halloween. But we also don’t want someone like Rob Zombie or David Gordon Green doing something weird and unexpected with Halloween because then it “betrays” the spirit of the original… somehow. But no matter what, we can’t possibly not watch another Halloween movie. We cannot, under any circumstances, just let it go and move on to something else. It’s the next one in the franchise! We have to spend money to see the next I.P. and argue over how it lives up to the Halloween name because… uh, wait, why do we have to keep supporting this I.P., again? Why are we assuming this entire trilogy won’t just be jettisoned and rebooted again, making all of these arguments we’re having about Corey entirely pointless?
It’s like a casino slot machine you’re still hopelessly playing because you hit a jackpot there years ago: the only way to truly win is to walk away at the top. And I know it’s hard for us to accept this, but Halloween was on top right out of the gate. When we go see the next Halloween film, deep down, we’re not demanding it expand the lore in some satisfying way or give Laurie a badass bitch moment. What we really want is for it to replicate the feeling we had when we watched the very first one for the first time. Which will never happen. You can’t go back to that feeling of discovery again. The best thing audiences could have done for this series was stay home on October 30th, 1981.
If you join Megan in wanting to watch and celebrate and promote a truly new horror movie, you’ve got so many better options than yet another meaningless “final” showdown between Michael and Laurie. You’ve got Censor, you’ve got Malignant, you’ve got X, you’ve got Mad God, you’ve got The House, you’ve got In the Earth, you’ve got Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona, and so many others. I didn’t like Barbarian nearly as much as Joey did but even I have to admire that a filmmaker stuck to his vision and actually worked a contemporary setup into an original feature that could have so easily been watered down into yet another dated Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel or Hatchet spinoff. Smile isn’t quite an “original” horror movie, but then again, neither was the first Halloween, which basically just gathered up all the pioneering techniques of Black Christmas and Italian Giallo and perfected them. Despite all my griping about how tiresome this trend of “Elevated Horror” has become to me, I have to remind myself that we’re still surrounded by an unprecedented surfeit of worthwhile original horror movies with the potential to cement themselves in our generation as firmly as Halloween did for Gen-X’ers…
… if we finally stopped propping up these repeatedly disappointing franchises extended well past their sell-by date.