If there is a more avid fan of the long-running "Halloween" series than me, I have yet to encounter them. The overwhelming success of John Carpenter's original 1978 masterpiece
widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made for a reasonhas never been even closely duplicated in quality by its string of sequels. At the same time, because I have such an undying affection for that picture, even the weakest of follow-ups I hold near and dear to my heart. The same goes for "Halloween: Resurrection," the eighth chapter in the horror saga, even if it is, unfortunately, at the bottom rung of the series' entries.
After a provocative prologue in which Jamie Lee Curtis (1978's "Halloween
," 1981's "Halloween II," and 1998's "Halloween: H20
") reprises her tragic role of Laurie Strode and, in the process, finally concludes the arc of her eternally suffering character, the main story gets underway. At Haddonfield University College, six graduate students have been chosen by cable show entrepreneur Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes) to act as the subjects of a live Halloween Internet webcast set inside the childhood home of serial killer Michael Myers (Brad Loree). What the college kids do not plan on is the surprise appearance of Michael himself, who apparently is not amused by trespassers on his property.
From beginning to end, "Halloween: Resurrection" is a strictly hit-or-miss affair. While director Rick Rosenthal (who also helmed "Halloween II" over twenty years ago) injects a certain slickness and energy to the proceedings, his expertise as a filmmaker seems to have regressed, rather than flourished, with the passing years. Rosenthal misguidedly does not trust the intelligence of his viewers, convinced that spelling everything out rather than going for subtlety and veritable suspense is the correct way to go. He has also disregarded the occasional onscreen title cards that have been one of the distinguishing postmarks of every "Halloween" film up until now. Their disappearance in this installment may seem like a minor point, but it lessens the general atmosphere and feeling of the holiday.
Also missing from "Halloween: Resurrection" is a solid screenplay or any strong heroes or heroines that we can identify with and root for. Written by Larry Brand and Sean Hood, the movie too often devolves into a stream of throwaway pop-culture references (from "The Osbournes" to "Survivor") that will be out-of-date in just a few years. Brand and Hood also have trouble finding the humanity in a line of one-note characters who are little more than obligatory chopping blocks for the unstoppable Michael Myers.
The lead potential victim, taking over the reigns for Laurie Strode, is Psych major Sara Moyer. Not only is she never even remotely fleshed out as a fully sympathetic figure, but actress Bianca Kajlich (2000's "Bring It On
") is no Jamie Lee Curtis. If Kajlich is a thoroughly uncharismatic heroine, Busta Rhymes (2000's "Shaft
"), as motormouth Freddie Harris, overacts to such a degree that his every appearance (of which there is many) is worth nothing but a loud groan from any serious-minded fan of the series. Showing a bit more promise, considering what she had to work with, is Katee Sackhoff (2001's "My First Mister
"), as Sara's best friend, Jenna, who dreams of a career in the Hollywood spotlight. Sackhoff is energetic and fun in a way that Kajlich never is.
Lest it seem like "Halloween: Resurrection" is a complete washout, the film does come through in some vital departments. While the "Halloween" theme music is not played as much as it should have been, its reinterpretation and the new music score (by Danny Lux) is creepy and appropriately off-kilter. Brad Loree, as Michael Myers, has perfected the movements and actions of the original Shape in a way that no other actor has done since 1978. The reality-show webcams are effectively intercut with a conventional film style that adds an extra layer to the storytelling and must have been a creative nightmare to pull off. Finally, the last half-hour is tautly paced and exciting enough to become a truly involving and visceral experience. If the movie is never particularly scary, due to the replacement of gore over tightly wound tension, it does manage to thrill once it gets going.
Predictably, "Halloween: Resurrection" concludes with a "surprise" ending that leaves the door open for another sequel. One hopes, however, that before "Halloween 9" is given a greenlight, executive producer Moustapha Akkad realizes what made 1978's "Halloween
" such an unforgettable and groundbreaking experience. A reliance on true-to-life characters in true-to-life settings put face-to-face with pure evil, and carried out with carefully handled suspense, tight editing, and originality. As much fun as it is to see a person's decapitated head roll around in the washer and another's skull crushed to a bloody pulp, leave that sort of gory behavior to Jason Vorhees in the low-rent "Friday the 13th" series. I, for one, hope to never see such things again in a motion picture involving Michael Myers. With such a respectable pedigree, this series really does deserve better than what "Halloween: Resurrection" ultimately has to offer.
©2002 by Dustin Putman