Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
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 reason--has 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to "Survivor") that will be out-of-date in just a few years.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.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman