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David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends

Pumpkin metaphors and the courage to offend

Cue the Halloween theme: Choo-choo-choo, choo-choo-choo, choo choo! Can you hear that? No? Well, that's the hate train rolling by with people who aren't willing to embrace this very daring, unexpected take on this iconic franchise.

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Nov 1, 2022

© 2022 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

To open his final Halloween film, David Gordon Green takes what is essentially a throwaway exercise in suspenseful morbidity in a Scream film and then has the audacity to turn that into the entire emotional core of his trilogy closer narrative. Not only does he wonderfully succeed at doing that but he also layers it in creative ways, thereby deepening the franchise lore, enriching it with meaning and unforeseen nuances as to the origins of evil and how it can spread and what happens to a town that has lived through the events from not only 1978 but also from the two previous films — the last one in particular.

While the pumpkin opening credits to these films may be seen as mere thematic pastime as we're reading who is going to appear in the film, I think there's a lot more meaning to them. In Halloween from 2018 they're showing a deflated, squished pumpkin and slowly but surely have it rise back up to its original glory and it also has the all but identical look of the pumpkin we saw in the very first Halloween film in 1978. That can surely be seen as acknowledging the kind of monumental task the makers had put upon themselves by giving this franchise one more shot. In Halloween Kills they pick up on the theme of fire that closed the first film and show us how even the harshest flame doesn't seem to be able to burst or destroy the last Halloween pumpkin we see onscreen — going as far as it extinguishing the fire instead. Here, in Halloween Ends, I'm fully convinced that they subtly but distinctly prepare us for the Matryoshka doll that is evil inside evil inside evil ad infinitum, just like there's pumpkin inside pumpkin inside pumpkin, looking out at us and coming closer and closer until the last pumpkin suddenly changes perspective and faces away from us. Has evil finally gotten ahold of us as well perhaps and has the pumpkin become a stand-in for ourselves and our own hidden nature?

© 2022 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

“I’ve said goodbye to my boogeyman, but the truth is, evil doesn’t die. It changes shape.”

Laurie Strode

I don't think very many of the previous Halloween films have made me care so much for the characters on display and have made me want to find out more about where they are at in their lives, just happy with exploring those scenes with them, while there's certainly a clear presence of Michael Myers lurking in almost every frame almost all of the time, as we know he's been at large for four years when the main story of this film starts. His presence is hinted at ever so slightly with creeping slow zooms and in those empty moments in between, in which we're just listening to the environment, convinced that he must be in the shadows waiting to strike but he isn't — just as if he were The Invisible Man from Leigh Whannell's latest interpretation of that character.

David Gordon Green has something else, something more, in store for Myers, however, that recontextualizes his last hurrah in the final moments of Halloween Kills in a great way because, when he does appear in this film, the state he’s in at first kind of belies the image of him we were left with the last time. It's only through some very specific movements and changes in posture by James Jude Courtney, after a key event in the scene as it progresses, that we feel like new anti-life has been breathed into Myers, compelling him to rage one final time but with a deeply upsetting twist.

There will be people out there outright rejecting Green's take on the material not just in the previous films but most certainly in this conclusion, simply because they are unwilling to accepts changes to and originality in such an iconic franchise and character, when they are oh so adamant that cinema doesn't offer them anything original anymore. Here, it is an originality, mind you, that is not only done for its own sake but that is so compellingly staged, that we as the audience can start to feel the reach of Michael Myers as it extends to the central character from the opening scene in which we, on the other hand, feel like someone is pressing us into our seat and making our entire body tense up in fear of what will happen next.

If memory serves, no film in this series has made me so tense when watching it for the first time and I cannot help but praise Carpenter and son again for contributing to that with yet another beautiful mixture of familiar melodies and new compositions that just capture the mood that Green is going for in such a visceral yet also poetic way.

If you go back, remembering who Michael Myers was in the very first film, and the look he had on his face when he had just killed his sister, you'll have to give Green and his cast and crew credit for taking the franchise back to those roots, turning evil into an infectious force that can affect anybody — even a young, innocent boy. 

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