Review: ‘Halloween Ends,’ starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell and Kyle Richards

October 15, 2022

by Carla Hay

Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers, also known as The Shape (played by James Jude Courtney), in “Halloween Ends” (Photo by Ryan Green/Universal Pictures)

“Halloween Ends”

Directed by David Gordon Green

Culture Representation: Taking place in 2019 and 2022, in the fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, the horror flick “Halloween Ends” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Serial killer Michael Myers is on the loose again and will murder anyone who gets in his way.

Culture Audience: “Halloween Ends” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the “Halloween” movie franchise and star Jamie Lee Curtis, but anyone who sees this movie should brace themselves for a disappointing bore that fails in suspense and storytelling.

Andi Matichak and Rohan Campbell in “Halloween Ends” (Photo by Ryan Green/Universal Pictures)

There’s no other way to put it: “Halloween Ends” is a cesspool of bad filmmaking decisions. By now, most horror fans know that the “Halloween” move franchise (which began with 1978’s “Halloween,” directed by John Carpenter) follows the seemingly endless saga of masked serial killer Michael Myers (also known as The Shape), who somehow manages to survive after being shot, stabbed, beaten, and set on fire. Because indestructible Michael Myers has unrealistically escaped death so many times, the “Halloween” franchise now implies that he’s not completely human and there’s something supernatural about him.

In the first “Halloween” movie, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), who was a high school student at the time, was a survivor of his Halloween night massacre in the fictional Haddonfield, Illinois. Laurie and some of her teenage peers were babysitting on that deadly night. The Laurie Strode character has appeared off and on in “Halloween” movies ever since, with all reboots and sequels failing to live up to the groundbreaking and terrifying original “Halloween” movie.

“Halloween Ends” has been described as the third movie in a “Halloween” trilogy directed by David Gordon Green, beginning with the 2018 “Halloween” reboot and continuing wth 2021’s “Halloween Kills.” The 2018 reboot of “Halloween” was good enough to show there was potential to restore the “Halloween” franchise back to being critically acclaimed horror instead of the mindless schlockfest that the franchise turned out to be. “Halloween Kills” foreshadowed that the quality of the franchise was sliding back into idiotic territory. “Halloween Ends” is the proverbial nail in the coffin that solidifies the unfortunate pattern of filmmakers ruining the “Halloween” franchise with mind-numbing and silly stories.

“Halloween Ends” was written by Green, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier and Danny McBride. (It’s usually not a good sign when a movie has at least four credited screenwriters, because the screenplay usually ends up having “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome.) How bad is “Halloween Ends”? Michael Myers’ killing spree doesn’t begin until nearly one hour into this horrific misfire. There’s not enough Laurie Strode and too much of a dull romance between Laurie’s granddaughter and an accused killer.

The movie begins on Halloween night in Haddonfield in 2019. A 21-year-old college student named Corey Cunningham (played by Rohan Campbell) has been hired to babysit a boy named Jeremy Allen (played by Jaxon Goldenberg), who’s about 9 or 10 years old. Jeremy’s parents (played by Candice Rose and Jack William Marshall), who don’t have first names in the movie, are going out for the night to a Halloween costume party. Corey is nerdy and socially awkward, but he’s also very responsible and has plans to go to graduate school.

Before the parents leave for the party, Mrs. Allen tells Corey that ever since the Michael Myers massacre that took place during Halloween the previous year (as shown in “Halloween Kills”), Jeremy has been very fearful, he’s been wetting his bed, and he’s been hearing voices. Corey tells her that’s a normal reaction that a lot of kids would have. What Corey also finds out is that Jeremy is a little bit of a spoiled brat who likes to get his own way.

Jeremy insists on watching a horror movie on TV with Corey. When the violence in the horror movie gets too intense, Corey decides that they should stop watching the horror movie, which he thinks isn’t appropriate viewing for a child of Jeremy’s age. Jeremy wants to keep watching the horror movie though and says he’s not afraid of the horror movie or Michael Myers.

Jeremy smirks to Corey: “Michael Myers kills babysitters, not kids.” (Apparently, Jeremy never heard what Michael Myers did in 2018’s “Halloween,” where a pre-teen child became a Michael Myers murder victim.) Jeremy puts up a little bit of fuss for Corey telling Jeremy what they can and can’t watch on TV.

The next thing Corey knows, Jeremy goes missing in the house, but Corey can hear Jeremy’s voice taunting him and laughing at him in the distance. Some sloppy film editing then shows Corey locked in an upstairs closet by Jeremy, who is standing nearby in the hallway but who refuses Corey’s demands to unlock the closet door. Corey kicks his way out of the closet with such force, it knocks Jeremy over the stairwell, with Jeremy falling to an instant death on the floor of the house’s foyer.

And what a coincidence: Jeremy’s parents come home just seconds after Jeremy’s fatal fall. When they open the front door, Jeremy’s bloodied and broken body is right in front of them. Jeremy’s mother wails and screams at this gruesome sight. Jeremy’s parents immediately think that Corey killed Jeremy on purpose. A panicked and remorseful Corey is arrested and proclaims that Jeremy’s death was an accident.

“Halloween Ends” then flashes forward to 2022. Laurie now owns a house in Haddonfield, where she lives with her granddaughter Allyson (played by Andi Matichak), who is Laurie’s only grandchild. “Halloween Kills” showed what happened to Allyson’s divorced mother Karen (played by Judy Greer), who was Laurie’s only child. What happened to Karen is also mentioned at the beginning of “Halloween Ends.” Laurie, who is now apparently working on a memoir, is shown in various “Halloween Ends” scenes typing on her laptop computer and reading parts of her memoir in ominous voiceovers.

Laurie says that that she bought the house as “a place to live with love and trust—not a trap, not a place to hide.” Allyson, who is in her mid-20s, works as a nurse at a local hospital. Laurie seems to be at peace with her past and is no longer hiding from Michael Myers. But there would be no “Halloween Ends” movie if Michael Myers (played by James Jude Courtney) were completely out of of Laurie’s life. It’s later revealed in “Halloween Ends” where Michael has been hiding in Haddonfield.

Meanwhile, Corey has had a rough time in Haddonfield because he’s a social outcast who is still thought of as a child killer by many members of the community. Although it’s not shown in the movie, it’s mentioned that Corey went on trial for Jeremy’s death and was found not guilty. Corey’s reputation was ruined anyway.

Corey currently lives with his parents and works as a mechanic in his father’s mechanic shop. Corey’s father Ronald (played by Rick Moose) is easygoing and compassionate, while Corey’s mother Joan (played by Joanne Baron) is domineering and impatient. Both parents firmly believe in Corey’s innocence.

One day, Corey is standing outside a local convenience store, when four teenagers approach him to ask him to buy them some beer. The names of the teenagers are Terry (played by Michael Barbieri), Stacy (played by Destiny Mone), Billy (played by Marteen) and Margo (played by Joey Harris). Terry is the leader of these teenage troublemakers.

When Corey declines the teens’ request to buy alcohol for them, they begin to insult Corey by calling him names such as “psycho babysitter.” Laurie happens to arrive outside and sees this bullying. The teens then begin to taunt Corey and Laurie, by calling them “the psycho and the freak show.”

Corey is holding a glass bottle of chocolate milk, and he gets so angry that he squeezes the glass bottle until it breaks, thereby injuring his hand. The teens just laugh and go into the grocery store. Laurie then takes out a knife and asks Corey if he or she should use the knife to slash a tire of the car that the teens used to get there. Corey then takes the knife and does the tire slashing.

Laurie insists that Corey go to the local hospital, where Corey happens to get medical treatment from Allyson. There’s an immediate attraction between Corey and Allyson, but Corey is too shy to act on it. Corey mentions that he’s a mechanic at the local mechanic shop, and he recently got a used motorcylce, given to him by his father. Allyson uses this information as an excuse to visit Corey at his job so that he can give her lessons on how to ride a motorcycle.

And so begins the most tedious part of “Halloween Ends”: the courtship of Corey and Allyson. This limp romance drags down the movie to the point where viewers will be wondering where Michael Myers and Laurie are. The misleading marketing for “Halloween Ends” makes it look like Laurie and Michael Myers are in most of the movie, but “Halloween Ends” actually takes a long and unwelcome detour into Corey’s world.

Allyson’s estranged father happens to be a Haddonfield cop named Officer Mulaney (played by Jesse C. Boyd), who acts like a stalker by showing up in the same places where Allyson is, and complaining that she never contacts him or returns his messages. Allyson is never happy to see him. Needless to say, Officer Mulaney (who has no first name in the movie) disapproves of Allyson dating Corey.

Laurie keeps an open mind about Corey, because she knows what it’s like to be misjudged. Some people in Haddonfield blame Laurie for causing Michael Myers to come back. There’s a scene where a wheelchair-using, mute, middle-aged woman named Sondra (played by Diva Tyler) and Sondra’s sister (played by Leila Wilson) happen to be in the same store parking lot as Laurie. Sondra’s sister angrily confronts Laurie and says that Sondra is “damaged” because of Michael Myers, and the sister berates Laurie for tempting Michael Myers back to Haddonfield.

As the romance between Corey and Allyson begins to blossom, there are hints that Laurie’s love life could also be heating up. In “Halloween Kills,” it was revealed that a Haddonfield cop named Frank Hawkins (played by Will Patton) was a young rookie on duty during the 1978 Halloween night when Michael Myers went on his massacre. Frank, who’s supposed to be about four or five years older than Laurie, has had a crush on Laurie ever since. In “Halloween Kills,” Frank and Laurie ended up in the same hospital room together, where they discovered their mutual attraction to each other.

Frank is still interested in dating Laurie, but she’s been more hesitant about getting into a romantic relationship with anyone. And so, for much of Laurie’s screen time, Frank is sometimes hanging around like a lovesick puppy who wants some sign of affection from Laurie. Is this a romantic drama or a horror movie?

Because “Halloween Ends” veers so far into being a romantic drama for much of the movie’s scenes, the tone of the movie is very disjointed and awkward. “Halloween Kills” character Lindsey Wallace (played by Kyle Richards), a survivor of Michael Myers’ 1978 massacre, returns in “Halloween Ends” as a good friend of Laurie’s. In “Halloween Ends,” Lindsey is a totally useless character who just stands around and looks sympathetic to Laurie. “Halloween Ends” gives Lindsey no character development or further insight into Lindsey’s life. Sheriff Barker (played by Omar J. Dorsey) from “Halloween Kills” also returns for a smaller role in “Halloween Ends.”

“Halloween Ends” has a yammering radio DJ character named Willy the Kid (played by Keraun Harris), from a local radio station called WURG “The Urge,” and his annoying voiceovers pepper some of the scenes with commentary about the legend of Michael Myers. As soon as this radio DJ character’s voice keeps showing up in the movie, you just know that sooner or later, Willy the Kid will be seen in person, and his fate is easily predicted. There’s also an unnamed, elderly homeless man (played by Blaque Fowler) who lives near some abandoned tunnels in Haddonfield. His purpose in the movie is also very obvious.

Because “Halloween Ends” takes so long for Michael Myers to actually appear, some viewers might be wondering during the first half of the movie if this is a “Halloween” movie spinoff, not a “Halloween” movie sequel. Curtis makes an effort to bring some gravitas and emotional resonance to her role. However, the rest of the cast members’ performances in the movie are mediocre and unremarkable. The scenes of Michael Myers on a killing spree have a “been there, done that” formulaic quality that look like tired retreads of previous “Halloween” movies.

Note to filmmakers of future “Halloween” movies: People want to see a “Halloween” movie to have mostly Michael Myers horror scenes, not lukewarm romance scenes that take up too much of the story and look like something from a bland soap opera. That’s why “Halloween Ends” not only fails to live up to the hype but it’s also a horror movie that lacks edge, originality and truly terror-inducing scenes. In other words, “Halloween Ends” is a ripoff and a complete waste of time.

Universal Pictures released “Halloween Ends” in U.S. cinemas and on Peacock on October 14, 2022.

Review: ‘Alice’ (2022), starring Keke Palmer, Common, Gaius Charles, Alicia Witt, Jonny Lee Miller and Natasha Yvette Williams

January 24, 2022

by Carla Hay

Keke Palmer in “Alice” (Photo by Eliza Morse/Vertical Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)

“Alice” (2022)

Directed by Krystin Ver Linden

Culture Representation: Taking place in Georgia, the dramatic film “Alice” features a cast of African American and white characters (with some Latinos) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A young woman who has lived life as a slave in the 1800s antebellum South escapes from her plantation into a world where it’s 1973.

Culture Audience: “Alice” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in movies about slavery and civil rights in the U.S., but the movie is a poorly made story that terribly bungles its social justice intentions.

Keke Palmer and Common in “Alice” (Photo by Eliza Morse/Vertical Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)

“Alice” might have been intended to be a passionate social justice movie, but it’s racial exploitation junk that’s tone-deaf, cringe-inducing and downright insulting to African Americans. Because of a certain twist in the movie’s awful plot, “Alice” is going to get inevitable comparisons to the 2020 horror misfire “Antebellum.” Both movies are about a young African American woman who wants to escape from a slave plantation, and she finds out that her life isn’t what she thought it was. And both movies are bottom-of-the-barrel garbage.

Written and directed by Krystin Ver Linden, “Alice” is a slow-moving train wreck of a film that spends the first third showing repetitive scenes of slaves enduring abuse. “Alice” claims to be based on true events, but slavery abuse is the only realistic thing about this trashy sham of a film. “Alice” had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s proof that even a prestigious festival such as Sundance can sometimes choose crappy movies to showcase. At least “Alice” showed some restraint in the violent scenes, compared to “Antebellum,” which seemed to revel in showing scenes of slaves getting beaten, raped, strangled, and viciously murdered.

The title character in “Alice” is a house slave in Georgia who is shown getting secretly married to another slave named Joseph (played by Gaius Charles) in an early scene in the movie. Alice (played by Keke Palmer), who’s as feisty as she can be under these enslaved conditions, wants to lead an escape plan for the plantation’s slaves who want to run away. It’s exactly like what the female protagonist in “Antebellum” planned too. The opening scene of “Alice” actually shows Alice running away in the woods, where she stops and then lets out a scream. The movie then circles back by showing this scene again after viewers see what led up to this escape.

Alice wants to escape, but some of the other slaves on the plantation are more hesitant, including Joseph’s mother Ruth (played by Natasha Yvette Williams), who warns Alice that there are white men stationed everywhere who are ready to catch and possibly murder runaway slaves. Everything about the plantation is run like it’s sometime in the early 1800s, when slavery was legal in the U.S., and electricity hadn’t been invented yet. The plantation owner is a predictably cruel and sadistic racist named Paul Bennet (played by Jonny Lee Miller), who rapes Alice and forces her to read to him. Paul tells Alice that her reading duties are the only reason why he’s allowed her to know how to read.

Paul’s ailing mother Mrs. Bennet (played by Madelon Curtis) lives in the same house, where she’s often bedridden. She doesn’t have a first name in the movie, and she’s a useless character. The only memorable thing that happens with Mrs. Bennet is when Alice goes in Mrs. Bennet’s room and asks her in a fearful voice, “What’s out there?” Mrs. Bennet replies, “The whole world. Don’t you see?” Paul also has a son named Daniel (played by Jaxon Goldenberg), who’s about 8 or 9 years old, and an ex-wife named Rachel (played by Alicia Witt), who is not seen until much later in the movie.

Alice and Joseph are both brutally punished on separate occasions for various things. Paul has a right-hand man named Aaron (played by Craig Stark), who carries out a lot of the torture. At one point, Alice is tied up and her head is placed in a muzzle. You can bet that this punishment will be enacted again on someone else later in the movie. It’s all so predictable.

The plantation is all that Alice and the other slaves have experienced of the world. However, there’s a major clue that there’s something different about this plantation. The clue is revealed when Alice goes by herself to dig in the woods, as if she’s looking for something buried there.

She finds a jacket and a cigarette lighter buried in these woods. This cigarette lighter is one of the movie’s biggest clues indicating there’s going to be a “time-traveling” part of the story. A more subtle clue is a scene in the house, where Alice picks up the Leo Tolstoy novel “Anna Karenina” and looks at the cover. “Anna Karenina” was first published in 1878, which was 15 years after the Emancipation Proclamation that made slavery illegal in the United States.

After Alice escapes from the plantation, she finds herself running out of the woods into the middle of an expressway, where she almost gets hit by a delivery truck. The driver’s name is Frank (played by Common), who works with his brother at a farm that they co-founded named Florence Farms, in Springfield, Georgia. Frank stops and helps a terrified Alice into his truck. He says he’ll take her to a nearby hospital when he finds out that Alice seems very confused by her surroundings.

Frank tells Alice that she’s in Georgia, and that the year is 1973. And so, there’s a long stretch of the movie where Alice is frightened or curious about why she ended up in a future century. Alice has no last name and no birth certificate. But she hasn’t forgotten about the past and the people she left behind.

In the hospital waiting room, Alice sees Jet magazine with Pam Grier on the cover and Rolling Stone magazine with Diana Ross on the cover. Grier and Ross both have Afro hairstyles in these photos. Guess who’s going to change her hair into an Afro later in the movie? It’s a scene that looks as phony as the Afro wig that Palmer wears when Alice decides she wants to be the next Angela Davis.

Because, yes, this movie is about a slave who becomes a 1973 Black Power warrior. And it’s depicted in the most heavy-handed and ludicrous ways possible. When Frank finds out that the hospital is going to send Alice to a psychiatric facility, he takes her instead to the house that used to be owned by his late mother. And what a coincidence: His mother spent time in a psychiatric facility too, so Frank tells Alice that it’s definitely not the “happy place” that the hospital described it as.

And what do you know: Frank and his mother were civil rights activists. And so, the house is filled with books, magazines and newspapers where Alice can get caught up on what’s been happening to African Americans in the 100+ years that she skipped on the way to almost being hit by Frank’s truck and not knowing that slavery was abolished. Palmer does some melodramatic acting when Alice cries after finding out about the Emancipation Proclamation.

And somehow, when Alice turns on the TV, she just happens to see a montage of clips of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Davis giving passionate speeches about black people’s empowerment. Alice also learns to use a phone, which leads to one of the dumbest parts of the movie: Alice goes through the phone book to try to find someone from her past who would be long dead if Alice really thought that she came from the 1800s.

This “Alice” movie has a semi-obsession with showing Grier as the prototype of what Alice is supposed to look like, because there are images of Grier throughout the film that almost fetishize her. The first time that Alice and Frank go to a movie together, it’s to see Grier’s 1973 blaxploitation action film “Coffy.” Clips from the movie are shown of gun-toting Grier going on a rampage in revealing clothing and snarling about how she’s going to go after white people.

Not surprisingly, at one point in the movie, Afroed Alice is shown ripping up her slave dress and then strutting in the type of midriff-baring top and tight leather pants that Grier would wear in one of the many blaxploitation action flicks starring Grier in the 1970s. This movie is so badly written, if it had any subtlety, Alice would stomp all over it in her 1973 platform heels.

While all of this is happening in Alice’s “transformation,” music that’s supposed to sound like funky 1970s black music keeps playing as part of the movie’s soundtrack. An exception is a scene where Alice changes her hair into an Afro. In this scene, the music soundtrack blares Diana Ross & the Supremes’ 1966 hit “Reflections,” as a “too on the nose” emphasis pointing out that Alice is a woman without a home and seemingly without an identity, but she’s a Strong Black Woman who’s going to find her identity and a way back home. (A line in the song’s chorus is “Reflections of the way life used to be.”)

As soon as Alice tells Frank she wants to go back to the plantation to rescue her husband and the other slaves, you know where this horrendous dreck is going. And just like in “Antebellum,” there’s a scene involving fire as part of a revenge plot. “Alice” is such an idiotic movie, there’s a scene with a raging fire that’s rapidly spreading, but people just stand around and don’t try to escape.

Palmer and Common look like they’re making sincere efforts to be convincing in the “thriller” aspects of the movie, but there’s no thrill to be found when everything is telegraphed in such a clumsy and racially condescending way. The other cast members in the movie either play caricatures or have characters with no real personalities. Alice is not even written as a fully developed person. She’s just a stereotypical avatar for what racially condescending filmmakers think African American women are supposed to be like when confronting oppression and racism.

The atrocious dialogue in this movie would be almost laughable if it wasn’t in a movie that’s supposed to be about a very serious subject. For example, Alice declares to Frank at one point: “Just so you know: Doing the right thing is never wrong.” In another scene, Alice confronts slave master Paul’s racist ex-wife Rachel, who screams at Alice: “You’ll never understand freedom!” Alice shouts back, “I am freedom!”

Usually when a movie badly mishandles the issues of slavery or racism against black people, it’s because the production team consists mostly of people who aren’t black. The filmmakers’ hiring practices also show that they don’t care about working with enough black people on a project that is about racism against black people. That’s definitely the case with “Alice.”

“Alice” writer/director Ver Linden and nearly all of the behind-the-scenes crew she hired for “Alice” are white. Most of the black people hired for the movie were actors playing slaves. “Alice” star Palmer has the title of executive producer, which is a title given to someone who might have some creative input but not any say in how the movie was financed or who got to direct the project. That’s the job of someone with the title of producer. And for “Alice,” the only person with the producer title is a white man named Peter Lawson.

Normally, it would not be necessary to point out the race of the filmmakers in a movie review. But in this case, when slavery and racism against black people are being used in a story to sell this horrible film, it’s important for audiences to know who’s responsible for this racially exploitative mess. Everyone involved in making “Alice” should be ashamed of themselves.

Some people might automatically think that any movie that condemns racism has to be a good movie. Some people might think they’ll get Black Lives Matter credibility if they recommend seeing a movie like “Alice.” The problem is that “Alice” is neither a good movie, nor is it a movie that genuinely cares about treating issues about racial equality and civil rights with any real respect. “Alice” is just a tacky cash grab that uses the trauma of slavery and racism as a way for filmmakers to make money from black people’s real-life pain.

Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attractions will release “Alice” in select U.S. cinemas on March 18, 2022.

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