If you’re looking for the ultimate showdown between Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), you’ll get some of that in “Halloween Ends.” But the real star of the film is Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), whose life spirals out of control after he accidentally kills a kid, and he becomes the new boogeyman of the town of Haddonfield, Ill.
“Halloween” fans will not like this. Cunningham is a completely new character introduced in the last film of David Gordon Green’s trilogy and he steals the spotlight from Strode and Myers’ central conflict the series is based on. Especially considering that the two shared very little screen time in the previous film, “Halloween Kills,” I can completely see why fans of the franchise will see this as being insult on top of injury. As I’ve explained on TikTok, I think the filmmakers sidelined Myers in “Ends” at least partially because they know they went too far in “Kills,” having him survive what should have been inescapably fatal wounds.
But if you’re willing to look past that, and see “Halloween Ends” as a standalone film unburdened by the duties of closing out the trilogy, Cunningham’s story really works. RedLetterMedia had some excellent comments on how his fall mirrors in part that of Anakin Skywalker in the “Star Wars” prequels and the tragedy of his story is that, while he tries to do good, the town of Haddonfield after his initial tragedy pushes him further and further down a dark path, until he finds himself under the tutelage of Myers, who takes him in when he is most vulnerable (exactly like how Darth Sidious turned Anakin).
As soon as his accident, Cunningham’s only chance at normalcy is to leave the town of Haddonfield, which he is unable to do as he is not yet financially independent, living with his parents. His dad tries his best to make him happy and give him room to live his life, as is evident in him gifting Corey a motorcycle early in the movie, but he is just ill-equipped to understand what he’s going through. He also owns a scrap yard where Corey works, which is probably the main reason why the family is not able to leave the town. On the other hand, his mother is suffocating but also ill-equipped to even understand the hatred Corey faces on a regular basis.
Strode introduces Corey to her granddaughter, Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), after she helps him get back at his bullies. And initially, the two become the only positive influences in his life, though they are not able to overcome the ignorance the town has towards him, which becomes all too apparent when Corey is confronted by the mother of the kid he accidentally killed at a Halloween party he attends with Nelson. There is little anyone can do for Corey as long as he stays in Haddonfield, which he recognizes, as he proposes to Nelson that they leave the town together, but it comes way too late — he had already gotten hooked on killing. He at first kills out of self defense when a homeless man tries to kill him, but once he starts killing with Myers, it becomes an addiction, as he finds pleasure in killing his bullies.
The layers to his fall are done particularly well. When he first kills, he is horrified, but once he starts killing those he dislikes for pleasure, he can’t help but become some version of Myers, eventually getting to a point where he feels like he has to kill Strode, whose biggest crime is being wary of him once his behavior starts to change, and people he has no personal quarrel with whatsoever (Nelson’s boss and coworker, who treat her badly).
RedLetterMedia posed this notion that Myers’ evil is transferred to Corey in the film, which I agree with. For all intents and purposes, Corey is this film’s version of Myers, until he dies, though his death has purpose as a final step in his fall.
Once Corey is defeated by Strode, he kills himself in a way that it looks like she killed him — framing her to be something she’s not, which is exactly what Haddonfield did to him after his accident. His last act of defiance — and his ultimate fall — is to attempt to curse Strode with the life he’s been forced to live, which I think is the worst possible thing Corey thinks he can do to someone.
It does detract from Strode and Myers’ conflict, but I’m not sure there really was anything left for the series to explore in that regard, as is evident by the lack of direction found in “Kills.” Still, it works on its own, and while it holds “Ends” back from being a classic entry in the franchise, it’s a memorable and interesting tragic story not often attempted in these types of films.
I can’t even begin to get my head around this, it just wasn’t the story I expected!