Words by Harry Moore
David Gordon Green directs the closing chapter in his Halloween trilogy which promises to be the final clash between the mask wearing killer, Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ original final girl Laurie Strode. Halloween Ends takes place four years after the events of the previous two films, 2018’s Halloween and last year’s Halloween Kills, with the constantly terrorised town of Haddonfield grappling with the communal trauma that Michael has inflicted upon them. That trauma manifests in the townsfolk looking for a new bogeyman as Michael has disappeared into the shadows since his last batch of killings. That ire falls on Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) a young man who was at the centre of another tragedy to happen in the area. As Corey is cast out of the community, he falls down a dark path and eventually takes on the mantel, and mask, that Michael left behind.
Green’s trilogy has been divisive and had some ups and downs over its course. The first entry did a good job of streamlining the narrative to connect it directly with John Carpenter’s original slasher classic, doing away with all of the continuity from the other sequels of the 40-year-old series. Green’s first entry was well received and widely considered to be one of the better films in the franchise as a whole, reinvigorating the character of Michael Myers and making him scary for a modern generation of filmgoers. However, his follow up, Halloween Kills, was a misfire that seemed to only exist as a means of setting the table for the final chapter, which Halloween Ends largely ignores in favour of a more stand-alone character driven story – about a character who is introduced in this trilogy capper. Green’s tone for his films has been decidedly more serious than some of the schlocky outings from the later sequels of the series, which was a benefit to his initial reboot. But with this film’s ludicrous plot, a lighter touch may have helped it, as the self-serious nature in the end product makes this dour and dull watch.
As a solo entry in the Halloween series, it is an interesting take on the proceedings. Seeing Michael’s evil transfer to another person is a fresh approach to a concept that can easily turn stale. As an ending to an ongoing story, and a final encounter between Michael and Laurie as it was billed, it is a failure. It is a strange decision to make Corey the main focus of the film, and it may have been a gamble that paid off, but unfortunately newcomer Rohan Campbell just isn’t up to the challenge as a performer of making this character engaging or his arc believable. This issue is compounded when you consider that this film was supposed to be Jamie Lee Curtis’ swansong as Laurie Strode, who is relegated to a supporting player through most of the film. Side lining an actor of Curtis’ calibre, who has been a beacon of charisma for decades, for a more unproven, leaden performer is to the movie’s detriment, and is far from what much of the audience would be hoping to see. Halloween Ends closes the story of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, yet somehow tricks both characters, failing to give either one a worthy send off.
Podcaster and sometimes filmmaker Kevin Smith returns to the New Jersey convenience store that launched his career and made him an indie sensation with the final misadventure of perennial cashiers Dante and Randall. Upon its release in 1994, the black and white low budget comedy Clerks quietly became one of the most influential films of that era, inspiring a generation of wide-eyed aspiring directors to pick up a camera and share their stories. The film’s dialogue also preceded the obsession over minute details in Star Wars and comic books that has come to dominate modern film discourse. And, of course, it marked the first appearance of Jay and Silent Bob, the most iconic stoner duo since Cheech and Chong. over a decade after that, Smith made Clerks II, which remains on the incredibly short list of comedy sequels that surpasses the original, not only bringing colour to Leonardo, New Jersey, but developing the characters into multi-dimensional figures that showed how far Smith had come as a writer. And now, another decade or so removed from the last entry in the Clerks saga, Smith completes his trilogy by looking back to his debut.
Clerks III picks up with a depressed Dante and static Randall, still working at the Quick Stop convenience store in their mid-forties. After Randall survives an almost fatal heart attack, he has an epiphany that he will not be remembered and has wasted his life watching movies, he then makes the invigorating decision to make his own movie. With the help of Dante, and Jay and Silent Bob, who have now purchased the neighbouring video store, turned it into a dispensary and serve their customers via sketchy handshakes in the parking lot like it was still the nineties, Randall directs a movie about his life working at the convenience store. From there, the rag tag film crew would create a movie that looks remarkably similar to the original Clerks.
Smith has clearly taken inspiration from his own life, having a survived a heart attack himself, he became inspired to tell this story of Randall reseizing his life following a near death experience. Like the other two Clerks films, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments that show Smith’s flourish for colourful, and often hilarious, expletive-filled dialogue. And while Clerks II was able to balance its comedy with some more serious and heart touching moments, this film is far more melancholic and downright depressing for anyone who has been a long-time fan of the series. Seeing these characters, particularly Dante, go through so much trauma was some difficult viewing at points, and isn’t what anyone would want for them. Given the very autobiographic nature of the film, it is a surprise that Smith would close this trilogy on such a tragic note.