Friday, October 21, 2022

‘Halloween Ends’ Novelization Review – How It’s a Far More Satisfying Final Chapter of the Saga

Halloween Ends has come and gone, taking with it the hopes and dreams of multiple generations of The Shape’s fans.

You can like it, hate it, but you better learn to love the fact we are living in a legitimate Michael Myers moment. What better way to soak it all in than with a new tie-in novelization from Titan Books?

Released Tuesday (10/18), Halloween Ends: The Official Novelization has been described by its author, Paul Brad Logan, as ‘very much its own thing.’ It branches off from the movie in parts, adds a lot of ancillary characters and has creative callbacks to everything from the cult of the Thorn to the family Tramer.

Yet there is so much more to this book. The Halloween Ends novelization is a case study in when an adaptation ‘doing its own thing’ happens to transcend its source material. It’s the rare occurrence when a novelization grows so powerful it can no longer be contained as its own thing, all but becoming the thing … but better?

That’s the most efficient way to describe the prose version of Halloween Ends, which takes the film’s muddled premise and fleshes it out into a haunting conclusion that fans didn’t know they wanted. The dynamic between the novel and its source material resembles that of Alien 3 and its extended cut. They are the same thing, essentially, but one is expanded to the size of a mansion while the other remains caged in a hastily put together, hour and forty five minute tiny house.

Fans sporting a deep disdain for Michael’s recent penultimate battle may well be won over by Logan’s unabridged take on the story. To put it bluntly, Halloween Ends as a novel is a far more satisfying version of the story than the version filmgoers finally received.

If you’re a fan starving for more Michael Myers, you’re in good hands here. Picking up exactly where Halloween Kills leaves off, Michael is afforded plenty of grisly and creative bonus kills as he seeks refuge on the morning after All Hallow’s Eve. These sequences have a big Bride of Frankenstein energy that makes me want a whole movie of Michael Myers puttering around rural Illinois killing indiscriminately while trying not to bleed to death.

With these sequences, Logan fills in the gaps between the murder of Karen at the climax of Kills and Michael’s first encounter with Corey. These chapters, told almost exclusively through the eyes of citizens unlucky enough to encounter The Shape in the morning hours of November 1st, establish Michael as a sort of sleeping dragon dwelling (both figuratively and literally) below the surface of a dying Haddonfield.

Michael’s return left the town a shell of its former self. In absence of the boogeyman they inherited from Smith’s Grove, Haddonfield goes the Alex Jones/QANON route, scapegoating survivors of the previous spree like Allyson and her grandmother, O.G. final girl Laurie Strode. Ultimately Haddonfield finds its new favorite Boogeyman in the form of Corey Cunningham, a sensitive 24-year-old mechanic who accidentally kills his charge while babysitting on– you guessed it– Halloween night.

While cleared of any wrongdoing, our suspicious, alliteratively named protagonist becomes the town’s pariah. He’s not Michael Myers but who cares? In the traumatized eyes of most of his fellow citizens, Corey is the next best/worst thing.

Unfortunately, for many viewers, the film version of Halloween Ends fails to make these vivid connections, instead sort of just transforming into a remake of John Carpenter’s Christine with The Shape in place of a car.

Within the context of this wildly erratic franchise, Corey Cunningham’s antihero story has been described as a “wild swing” by enthusiastic fans and “barely a bunt” by disillusioned others. In sports ball parlance, if Halloween (2018) hit a home run with audiences, and Halloween Kills struck out, Halloween Ends the movie takes a gnarly hit to the stomach and just sort of just walks the bases. It gets the trilogy to where it needs to be but only at the expense of fan expectations.

Mileage varies, but most fans have come away from Ends unsatisfied with its cinematic form. But when you give it a little more room to breathe? When you can get inside the character’s heads and better understand their thoughts and feelings? When you’re in the hands of a very talented novelist unencumbered by the style and structure of your more traditional tie-in novel? The result is a Halloween novel that is so easy to love.

Since Richard Curtis’ 1978 adaptation of Carpenter’s original, the series has provided fertile ground for horror novelists. Here, as in other Halloween novels, The Shape is an amorphous villain that lends himself perfectly to a third-person omniscient narrative. With a God’s eye view on Michael, Logan peels back disturbing new layers within The Shape. He’s not the unstoppable machine last encountered in Halloween Kills, but a rabid dog whose bloodlust has barely been contented. With so much damage to his body after Halloween Kills (and additional blows early in the novel), it is easiest for this version of Michael to wait around to die.

But fate has something different in store for our sexagenarian slasher. There are new friends to be made, old scores to settle. With Corey and Michael, Logan crafts a psychically vampiric relationship between the characters that organically transforms from misperceived respect into cutthroat competition.

Like humans who anthropomorphize dangerous animals, characters encounter Michael and project their own humanity onto The Shape. They get too close and get killed or, in Corey (and Allison and Laurie’s) case, infected.

As a movie Halloween Ends teases this idea out in its first third then practically shreds the whole premise in favor of an action movie climax. While still having the same timeline of events as the movie, the novel reinterprets them into the darkest denouement of a Michael Myers story since Halloween 4. Reading through it again, I can only assume this was the original ending intended by David Gordon Green and company that was vetoed for being way too dark.

Unrestrained by mainstream audience expectations, Logan fully commits to a coda that’s only just hinted at in the final shot of the finished film. It’s a shockingly unambiguous twist that ties up the reboot trilogy in a deliciously bloody, bittersweet bow. Kudos to Logan for sticking to this ending, which twists Frank and Laurie’s final meet cute into a far more ominous portend of Haddonfield’s next big boogeyman.

If you love Michael Myers, Laurie Strode or any parts of the David Gordon Green trilogy, you should really give the Halloween Ends novelization a read. Where the film left fans of the series polarized, the novelization smooths out the story’s rough edges and will no doubt win over its share of disgruntled fans.

Without a doubt, Paul Brad Logan’s take on Haddonfield in decline is a more than worthy addition to any slasher fiction or tie-in library. For extra franchise fun, check out the audio version, read by Jamie Lee Curtis soundalike(!) Linda Jones.

Halloween Ends novelization

The post ‘Halloween Ends’ Novelization Review – How It’s a Far More Satisfying Final Chapter of the Saga appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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