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From Our Nightmares: The Shape, Halloween Ends (2022)

[The following essay contains MAJOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]

Evil is a virus. As glimpsed in 2021’s Halloween Kills, its infection corrupts even good, honest people into irrational, bloodthirsty savages, consuming them from within.

Four years after Michael Myers’ return and subsequent rampage, the sleepy town of Haddonfield is once again scarred and traumatized. This time, however, the grief cuts deeper: the killer has managed to evade capture, vanishing without a trace. Deprived of closure, the community must invent new Boogeymen onto which they can project their fears and anxieties.

Their favorite target is Corey Cunningham, a young man accused of manslaughter following the tragic accidental death of a child left in his care. Despite being acquitted of the crime, Corey finds himself ostracized, persecuted, and even outright harassed by his neighbors, driving him into self-imposed isolation. But a fateful encounter with a gravely injured (and greatly diminished) Michael Myers sparks a flame in the previously unassuming social pariah: he resolves to reflect his tormentors’ hatred and scorn back at them—becoming the very monster that they believe him to be.

Thus, the cycle of violence continues.

Fortunately, the fledgling slasher and his aged mentor are ultimately slain, allowing Haddonfield to finally begin the difficult process of healing. Still, for Laurie Strode, the taste of victory remains bittersweet. David Gordon Green concludes his trilogy with an homage to John Carpenter’s original film: a series of static shots depicts empty rooms in our protagonist’s home—but here, they are illuminated by the gentle glow of daylight, and the franchise’s ominous theme music is conspicuously absent. The tone, at long last, is optimistic and hopeful—but in the background, just barely audible, the viewer hears the spirit of Michael Myers take a few labored, rasping breaths.

Because Evil never truly dies; as the procession of grotesque, transforming jack-o'-lanterns featured in the opening credits implies, it merely changes Shape.

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