Rated R for the sheer brutality of violence that Halloween movies tend to have. While Michael may not be the only killer in this movie, the type of violence that Corey uses mirrors Michael, not by accident. There's also language, suicide, and the brutal death of a child in this one. It's also one of those movies that just loves being bleak. I don't think that many people were expecting a PG-13 Halloween, so hard R it is.
DIRECTOR: David Gordon Green
I was warned. People told me that this one doesn't really do the trick. My emotional reaction to this one was all over the place. If you tell me that something sucks, part of me really wants to be the guy who loves and defends that movie. I don't know what part of me is so broken that I need to prove that my tastes are better, because they mostly really aren't. For the first quarter of this movie, I was so ready to get on my high horse and defend the movie. Then the middle happened and I was seeing some real problems with it. But by the end of the movie, it both won and lost me at the same time.
See, I love allegory. I love it. I need that extended metaphor, especially in my horror. Horror tends to embrace shlock and scares as ends in themselves. But as directors like Jordan Peele and --by extension-- David Gordon Green have shown, horror is able to speak to our society. This is a thing that genre tends to forget. They forget their Rod Serling / Gene Roddenberry roots and just try to make things that are apolitical. That's always a bummer. So when we get long running franchises, movies tend to be quasi-copies of one another. The story is ultimately the same, but the setting might change. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "Manhattan" or "space", but that's the wrong franchise. So when I see a director make an active decision to do something very different with a franchise, I often give it a chance. Some of you real Halloween nerds out there might be looking at Halloween 4, 5, and 6 as examples of how changing a formula is ultimately stupid. My counterargument is mostly, "Shut up." But my real counterargument is that the end result of those movies is difference-for-difference's-sake. When something ultimately has a message, those differences tend to matter. This is where things get a little messy with Halloween Ends.
I want to put an image in your head: the old idiom "Square peg; round hole." This isn't quite right. I have the image of the right shape of peg, but from another set. A kid is malletting a round peg into a round hole, but it just doesn't quite fit flush. It takes real effort, but ultimately it gets in. That's a lot of Halloween Ends. For a while, I'm reading an allegory that just doesn't work. The movie starts with Corey, a teen caught in the worst of circumstances. Due to a complete accident, Corey is branded town pariah. I kind of love the allegory I'm building in my head at this point. Part of it comes from the script itself. A town that is so used to the toxic presence of Michael Myers needs to define itself by its victimhood, so it brands Corey a new demon. With the sympathetic exception of the mother of the child, everyone enjoys keeping Corey in check. Everything there screams "accident", but people choose to define their own morality by making people like Corey as the evildoers of the time. We sympathize with Corey because we understand that Michael embraced evil and Corey was fundamentally a good man burdened with this cross. It works until it doesn't. When encountering Michael by sheer accident, he starts striking back. There's this weird "sympathy-for-the-school-shooter" thing that starts happening. And for a while, I'm really soured on the movie. It kind of comes across as this odd revenge porn where Corey --dressed as Michael Myers --is granted vindication on those who have wronged him. It becomes honestly pretty gross.
But then, I had to imagine that there's no way that David Gordon Green is making a movie about feeling bad for school shooters. After all, if I'm looking at this movie through a political lens, is that really the message that David Gordon Green wants out there? I can't possibly wrap my head around that. After all, I was the one dude who loved the allegory behind Halloween Kills. (Again, I pride myself at liking what other people hate.) But then I had to add an element that I started ignoring, "This is a Halloween movie that barely had Michael Myers." Heck, part of me still wonders if this movie really needed Michael Myers or could it just have been a story about needing to demonize people. When I put Michael Myers back into the story, I have to question his function. And some of you are going to roll your eyes simply because of the wording. Ready for it? I don't know if I'm ever going to be ready to write the next sentence.
Michael Myers is the Internet.
Yeah, I hate me too. Get in line. But try to get on board. Corey somehow threads the line between sympathy and disgust. He's really gross, but has a tragic history. What role does Michael Myers play in that. For the most part, Corey suffers in silence. He's made his way through this community, finding a job and growing closer to his father. He starts dating a girl who is defined by her victimhood (I'll talk about that later if I remember.) Things are not good for Corey, but he's ultimately stable. Even the dad of the boy who died says that he forgave Corey long ago and checks in on him regularly. But Corey also has no mental health services. He's asked to endure with this unbelievable burden and instead of finding a healthy outlet for that, he's bottling it up. When someone tells him that, even in metaphor, that it is okay to kill. After all, Michael had killed so many people time and again and some people love him. It's mirroring that fandom that Jeffrey Dahmer had that gave him a sick thrill. Instead of bottling up all this rage, what if he directed it outwards? Michael is the Internet, specifically toxic groups on sites like 8chan or the dark web. Michael sees this kid alone and that his privilege has been stripped from him and weaponizes it. After all, Michael Myers is an old man. (One of my favorite moments is when Corey beats down Michael and screams, "You're just an old man in a mask." Thank you. That's what I've been saying.) It's not a cult of Michael Myers thing like 4, 5, and 6 play with. It's aiming a weapon at society from a place of safety. Michael can hang out in the gutters (or the gutters of SOCIETY!) while Corey takes all the risk. God, that really worked as a political allegory that I dug.
But it doesn't completely work. I'm sorry. I told you that the peg doesn't quite fit the hole. It mostly does. But at the end of the day, David Gordon Green was A) making a Halloween movie that audiences were going to see and B) trying to close up a trilogy. After all, we wanted to have no chance to have Michael come back. There needs to be something to lock up the story. And in that instance, the Internet and the deep web can never be killed. So having a final showdown between Laurie and Michael is a bit absurd? Like, it's necessary to make this movie a movie. People paid to see that and were probably get, like, an hour-forty of Corey moping around town. (Not me! Mope away, Corey!) But it also kind of puts leaks in the submarine. Yeah, it's cool and I, too, wanted to see a final showdown. (It also kind of ruins Laurie's character of trying to be a better person a bit.) But the rules of Michael Myers kind of confuses me in this one.
The first of David Gordon Green's Halloween trilogy establishes that Michael Myers is a man whose evil drives him. He's killable, but just very driven to murder Laurie Strode. The second movie establishes that society's fear and hatred of Michael make him unkillable. Okay, that's cool. (Long sidebar here: David Gordon Green said that he was going to make an absolutely absurd Halloween Ends that no one saw coming once Halloween Kills was out. To a certain extent, he was right. Based on that comment, I came up with this idea for Michael Myers, based on his predatory use of fear and paranoia, to be this plague washing across the planet. He was worse than cancer, eliminating entire civilizations. The movie would be post apocalyptic and there would be groups of nomads fleeing him. There would be underground communities prepping for the day that Michael Myers found them. Laurie Strode acted as a prophet in the desert, training people to run until she taught them to overcome their fear of this monster. But that's just little old me.) But this one tried doing both. Like I said, I loved that line about Michael just being a sad old man in a gutter who can get his mask ripped off. But then Laurie started encountering super-killer Michael, who gets sliced in all kinds of awful places. But then, a slow bleed out killed him? And yeah, throw him in the grinder. You should totally do that. But what the heck are the rules on defeating Michael after the last movie said that he was unkillable? I don't know. I don't love that. But you gotta close a franchise, I guess.
I want to talk about Laurie's granddaughter, Allyson. Allyson is a bit of an underbaked character. She starts the film as an empath. In a society full of toxic personality, she's the one who can see people for the goodness in them. It makes her the hero of the story pretty quickly. Laurie is a hero, but we get that she's going through her own stuff, with the mask of motherhood poorly disguising the Sarah Conner beneath. And let's establish, I don't want Allyson to be perfect. Flaws are cool. But Allyson becomes completely consumed by her flaws. The dark cloud beneath that empathy is that she's drawn to broken people. We see that she is being harassed by an abusive cop who sexually harasses her. There's a heavy implication that the two dated and that he doesn't respect boundaries. But she invests in Corey way too heavily. There's maybe 24-48 hours before she's willing to both run away with him and burn the world down as well. To a certain extent, if my Internet theory works, we can assume that Corey becomes the evangelist of Michael Myers from that point. But that's never really made clear. It's this artificial tension that is created between Allyson and Laurie that doesn't make sense. It's to tell a story, but I don't think anyone would take such a hard turn in character as Allyson does in that moment. I'm not saying that she wouldn't invest in Corey. I get the idea of trying to help someone who may not be willing to receive help. But her infatuation with him has completely shut down her logical brain and she's running entirely on id, which isn't really in her character. It bothers me.
Yeah, I'd probably love my version of Halloween Ends better. It's because I spent a year thinking about it. I would have written it, but it would have plagiarized a bit too much on Batman: The Last Knight on Earth. Still, that would have been rad. And maybe verbalizing "Michael Myers is the Internet" makes the movie sound lame. But going in with that knowledge genuinely makes the movie better.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.