Halloween Ends Explained: The Legacy of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode

While the resolution of Halloween Ends and David Gordon Green’s Michael Myers trilogy is straight forward, the implications it has for Michael and Haddonfield are kind of nuts.

Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween Ends ending
Photo: Universal Pictures

This article contains Halloween Ends spoilers.

Michael Myers is dead. For realsies this time. Yes, we’ve seen the embodiment of pure evil, this personification of cruelty, the HUMAN VESSEL for what his own psychologist dubbed “the Devil’s Eyes,” die on screen before. He’s been shot, stabbed, and burned across multiple movies. In fact, all of the above occurred in the last one, Halloween Kills!

But this time Michael is gone and he’s not coming back, at least in this current form. Halloween Ends shows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) not only bleed the Shape dry from the neck and wrists on her kitchen table, but then has her feed his body to a metal shredder where his bones are crushed into dust. Presumably, as the town of Haddonfield watched on in this midnight mass of revenge, they all got to take home a little bit of eviscerated brain matter too.

So Michael Myers is at last gone. But evil never dies. And in its own shaggy, roundabout way, Halloween Ends is nothing if not a contemplation on this uncomfortable fact of human nature. While it’s perhaps inevitable a franchise movie with “ends” in the title will conclude with its main antagonist dying, most of the two-hour picture isn’t even that concerned with Michael Myers. That’s just a name for the Shape of evil that took hold of a child’s body way back in 1963. Instead Halloween Ends is more concerned with how the legacy of that Shape passes on to the next generation, and how evil flourished even before Michael’s last drop of blood left his body.

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It’s a fairly subversive idea for what’s being marketed as the final Michael Myers slasher movie to actually be the story of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young guy who never even met Michael on one of his many killing sprees. But this really is Corey’s story, and the story of how the rot of a scarred community can nurture wounds that never heal—passing trauma and violence from one generation to the next. Let us explain.

Why Did Corey Cunningham Become Another Michael Myers?

It was a curious thing listening to my audience’s reaction to Halloween Ends’ opening scene. With a quirky introduction to a male babysitter named Corey (which the screenplay’s natural comedy writers have a lot of fun with), the screening’s loudest horror movie talk-backers were gleeful while anticipating the first kill of the movie… But then Corey lived. In fact, a murder didn’t even take place. When Corey, terrified that he’d been locked in an attic on Halloween night in Haddonfield, kicks down a door, it is a complete accident that the little boy taunting him on the other side is knocked over a railing—tumbling to his death in front of his parents.

We didn’t watch a slasher movie sequence; it was the type of freak accident that represents the worst fear of any parent. The malevolent laughter died with the child, leaving the audience dead silent as the camera focused on the boy’s mother. She howls, “What have you done?!

That cry becomes the question of the movie: Was Corey’s action evil, and if it was, does that mean Corey is himself evil? With a heavy-handed and somewhat ungainly script, Halloween Ends articulates this thesis when Laurie Strode narrates in voiceover her own struggling insights into what her life has become after accepting the evil that was Michael Myers killed her daughter four years ago (the ending of Halloween Kills). After facing such traumatic horror, she narrates from her journal, “Do we lock our doors or let the evil in?”

If there’s a thesis for Green’s second and third Halloween films, it is how the trauma caused by an evil action can infect and poison an entire community. Michael Myers killed a lot of people in the last movie. But that body count increased significantly because a lynch mob formed to chase the babysitter-killer down, and as a consequence the mob killed an innocent man before lining themselves up for the slaughter of Michael’s butcher’s knife.

The memory of that shame has not healed; it lingers on as personal traumas, like those suffered by Laurie and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and as ghoulish urban legends that let the demons that drove Haddonfield mad that night continue to possess the town. It’s why Corey got so spooked when locked in an attic that he panicked and killed a kid.

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According to the movie, it’s also why the town of Haddonfield refused to accept that this tragic incident was an accident (although the movie glosses over that it was still manslaughter as well). Corey is ostracized from the community and belittled to the point where his life consists of working in a dead-end job at the dump with his uncle and dealing with some woefully underwritten Norma Bates energy from his mother at home.

At first, Laurie pities Corey when she sees high schoolers beating him up, but she comes to fear him after he starts romancing her granddaughter—and after Corey has come face-to-face with Michael Myers. The fabled Boogeyman finds Corey at a low point and instead of killing him, he lets Corey go. He sees the devil in this boy, and as the movie progresses, the kid with the same last name as the hero in Happy Days starts taking on Michael’s mannerisms until, by the end of the movie, he’s slaughtering his own mother while wearing Michael Myers’ mask.

The movie wants to leave it ambiguous as to whether Corey slowly became evil or was always evil, with one character even saying he isn’t sure if the darkness that was growing in the lad’s eyes was always there or something new. However, by proxy to Laurie’s own narration about “letting the evil in,” and the fact that the opening sequence clearly shows us Corey accidentally killed the kid, we know the answer. Hell, Laurie Strode has a sixth sense about evil in these more recent movies, and even she liked Corey when she first chatted with him pre-Michael Myers rendezvouses.

Corey wasn’t born evil like Michael Myers is implied to be in the original Halloween. He was a decent kid who grew up in a community that became a little meaner, a little more cynical—a little more EVIL!—after the night Michael Myers came back to town (and perhaps after the invention of Twitter). So following a cruel tragedy that was, in part, inspired by Myers’ night of horrors, that town turned on Corey. Evil begets evil, and hate begets hate. Corey even acknowledges this to one of his teenage tormentors, telling him that his dad picks him, so now he picks on the town’s pariah.

Trauma is contagious (a fact that this month’s Smile fictionalizes to far better effect), and the trauma of Michael Myers’ many killing sprees has led to the continued traumas of Corey. Still, this is a Halloween movie, and there is something vaguely supernatural afoot about Michael Myers, and how the evil of “the Shape” passes from Old Man Mike to Young Corey.

Evil never dies, it just takes new shape. If Michael was the personification of evil for one era, Corey becomes the Shape of it for the next, with the reasons for his change—the nature versus nurture argument—remaining ambiguous. The complexities of human nature often are.

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What Did Corey and Allyson’s Relationship Represent?

The supernatural quality of Halloween Ends is also what makes such a mess of the unexpectedly central relationship of the movie: Corey and Allyson. It appears an unlikely match at first because Allyson is the survivor of a killing spree (and also a nurse who apparently went to college) while Corey is the guy everyone whispers about being a murderer, and who works a dead-end job. Yet it is that duality of “the survivor” and “the killer” that Halloween Ends is so excited to explore.

And in the early scenes of their courtship, it works well enough. Allyson knows what it’s like to be the person everyone gossips about when she leaves a room, and while the whispers are far more sympathetic for her, they’re not that far removed from the person her neighbors hate. That thin line between hero and villain is the entire point of Halloween Ends. In one scene, Allyson’s underwritten co-worker snarks that Allyson dating Corey is like if her grandmother had dated Michael Myers. This is exactly what the movie is going for after Corey slowly succumbs to the evil that the town insists he represents.

This is also where Halloween Ends runs into significant problems because it’s such a muddle as to whether Corey is in love with Allyson or in awe of the wounded Michael Myers in the sewers. Does he really want to run away with her or become the Boogeyman II?

As best we can guess, the answer is both. Corey seems to mean it that Allyson gives him hope he can live a better life, but like a werewolf (or a junkie) he cannot resist the thrall of the full moon, or the high of going killin’ with Uncle Mike. And viewing it like a werewolf movie, with a supernatural power taking control of Corey’s body, is perhaps the only way to rationalize the third act where Corey asks Allyson to run away with him and then stands her up so he can steal Michael’s mask and go on a full-fledged killing spree of his own.

Trauma and the wounds that bind have a way of preventing us from saving ourselves. That’s one answer, but the movie unconvincingly also suggests that you accept something Corey and Michael clearly both believe: wearing a William Shatner mask and becoming the Shape is a kind of primordial dark magic.

So What Is Michael Myers to Haddonfield?

When Corey steals the mask from Michael in the sewer during the third act, Corey insists that “you’re just a man,” even as he simultaneously says he needs the mask. And, indeed, Michael is bald, gray, and pushing 80 in these recent movies. Yet in Halloween Kills he was able to take a gunshot to the chest and countless bludgeonings and keep on trucking.

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That he seemed so indestructible in the last movie makes it a bit strange that he’s just been chilling in the Haddonfield sewers four years later, acting like he’s still licking his wounds. And we honestly don’t have a good explanation for what is inconsistent writing. However, Michael is still intended to be the personification of evil in these movies, and player recognizes player.

The early scene where Michael grabs Corey’s neck, he seems to intuit all the horrors Corey has witnessed. This can be read one of two ways: Michael senses the general growing darkness in troubled Corey, or the Shape literally has the supernatural ability to read the memories of anyone he stares into the eyeballs of. The movie frustratingly tries to have it both ways. Michael is an old man who’s given power by what others project onto his mask, from Laurie insisting he’s the Boogeyman to Corey begging for that mask. He also is the nearly indestructible force of evil who corrupts all he touches—with Cory becoming the most thoroughly spoiled by the movie’s end.

One might thus wonder if the film’s writers toyed with the idea of suggesting that Michael was himself like Corey—an innocent kid whose soul was corroded into the ultimate evil by the world around him. Perhaps we’re meant to wonder if there was an older evil that infected Michael that we never saw in the original movie. But if that is the intention, the movie lacks the courage of its convictions to follow that idea through and explicitly suggest Michael is more than the Shape.

In the final balance, Michael still represents a metaphor for evil, albeit now a compromised one. By dint of time and age, the body of Michael Myers must eventually expire, no matter how many times he’s gotten up from gunshot wounds. But the effect he’s cast across the town is a legacy that can outlive a single generation. Evil does not die, and it can hurt people in the most tangential and unexpected ways… like causing someone to accidentally make a fatal mistake on Halloween night.

What the Final Death of Michael Myers Means

At the end of the film, Laurie Strode watches Corey kill himself (after she shot him three times in the chest and let him take a little tumble of his own over a railing). She then makes butcher’s work out of Michael Myers by nailing him to a kitchen workstation with her own knives.

The town comes together and destroys his body. Michael Myers, and the man is finally gone. The effect has a metaphorical significance on the town. If Michael’s 2018 killing spree forced Haddonfield to become aware that evil can exist within their midst, and to then go looking for it in the dark, Michael’s death allows the town to finally heal from its trauma. Hopefully, this means there will be fewer Coreys pushed down a dark path by the community.

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But the fact that Corey took on the literal Shape of Michael Myers suggests that evil will again return. It’s never defeated.

So it’s an interesting echo when Laurie accepts her granddaughter has left town and the movie has a closing montage of her empty home. In the original 1978 Halloween, a similar collection of shots, underscored by the sound of Michael Myers’ breathing beneath a mask, reinforced the idea that evil is always out there, and it can get you any place, including in your own home. But these new images of the daily and mundane are bathed in quiet and sunshine in Halloween Ends, reminding viewers after they’ve gorged themselves on the fatalism of the Halloween franchise that life is more than masks and knives, death scenes and jump scares.

Corey had a bad break but he still had a choice between the dark and light. Curtis’ Laurie also had more than her share of horrors. Unlike Corey though (or Rob Zombie’s Laurie Strode, for that matter), she chooses the light. Morning has come to Haddonfield at last.