Reviewed January 30th, 2003 by David Nusair
There is something somewhat thrilling about watching a new Halloween movie. As that ominous music begins to play and Moustapha Akkad's name pops up, it's hard not to get a little bit excited about what's to follow. True, every sequel of the series thus far has not been able to live up to the original, but the very idea that Michael Myers is about to resume his unstoppable killing spree is enough to provoke goosebumps.
It seemed as though Myers had been permanently dispatched at the end of the last installment, after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, of course) went ahead and lopped off his noggin. But, as we learn at the beginning of Halloween: Resurrection, things are never quite what they seem and Myers is indeed still alive and murdering. After a brief confrontation with Laurie, the film quickly shifts gears and we're plunged into the main storyline. An enterprising businessman (played by Busta Rhymes), seeking to cash in on the whole reality entertainment craze, has hired six students to spend the night in the old Myers house - while a myriad of cameras send out their exploits over the internet. We're soon introduced to the six potential victims and it's no surprise that they're a mishmash of various horror cliches. There's the horny idiot, the morose doomsayer, the wannabe starlet, the token black guy, the skeptic and, of course, the plucky heroine. It doesn't take long before they start vanishing one by one, while unsuspecting audience members just assume their deaths are part of the show.
Halloween: Resurrection is surprisingly effective, especially the opening sequence featuring the showdown between Laurie and Michael. This mini-movie, running no more than fifteen minutes and completely independent of what follows, is easily the highlight and if you don't enjoy the hell out of this portion of the film, then you're really going to hate the remainder. It's everything a good slasher flick should be, and Curtis does a fantastic job of portraying the disconnected calm embodied by Laurie. After years of being terrified of Myers, Laurie's finally come to terms with the fact that she'll be pursued by this unstoppable killing machine until the day she dies. And while their confrontation is short lived, it leaves a lasting impression on the rest of the film - which can't live up to that opening no matter how hard it tries.
The movie's been directed by Rick Rosenthal, the same man responsible for the second installment in this venerable franchise. That film was dull ripoff of the original, and Rosenthal's apparently learned from his mistakes, because Halloween: Resurrection's plot is certainly unique. But he just can't resist going back to the well on a few occasions, and includes several familiar elements throughout. Most notably, that head-cocking move that Myers does after murdering someone and that oft imitated trick wherein Myers steps out from a completely dark space. But my personal favorite moment of redux comes near the beginning of the picture, when Myers walks right through a closed door (a move which harkens back to the second installment, when he casually lumbers through a glass door). That was classic, and essentially sums up what Michael Myers is all about (absolutely nothing can stop him, not even, you know, physics).
Unlike most recent horror flicks, which are self-referential and almost spoofy, Halloween: Resurrection revels in the cliches and absurdities that make horror movies fun. People run up the stairs instead of out the door, clueless security guards say things like “who's out there?” and friends casually sneak up on one another even though a maniac is on the loose. That plucky heroine mentioned earlier, played by Bianca Kajlich, possesses the one trait that's absolutely required in a flick like this: she's a fantastic screamer. There's a scene early on in which she screams so loud she breaks glass; it's as if Rosenthal recognizes this necessary cliche in horror movies and pokes fun at it. In fact, Rosenthal actually does a fairly decent job in setting up an atmosphere of dread and suspense. He falters in his overuse of the webcam footage being shot by the characters, which worked in The Blair Witch Project but seems out of place here. Still, he knows what he's doing and isn't afraid to reference other, better horror movies (there's a death sequence right out of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom).
I'm making it sound like Halloween: Resurrection is as good the original. Not quite. While that opening 15-minute sequence is brilliant, the midsection of the film drags in a big way. Once those six kids get to the house, they spend far too much time just wandering around and squabbling with each other. Certain key discoveries are made, including a possible explanation for why Myers turned out the way he did. Maybe it's just me, but that's not something I need to know. He's a far more menacing and sinister presence when he's killing for no discernable reason. Having it appear as though he's doing all this because of his childhood is not only silly, but it takes away from the mysterious nature of the character. And we also learn that a stern talking to is enough to stop Myers dead in his tracks. I kid you not, there's a sequence in which Busta Rhymes does exactly that and Myers slinks away sheepishly. C'mon; that's just not right.
Still, the movie does essentially zip along (provided you're a fan of this sort of thing) and there is a good amount of gore. There's a completely useless subplot detailing the exploits of a teenager who's in contact with one of the unlucky six via a palm pilot, but this is otherwise a fairly focused horror flick. And, of course, the door is left wide open for a sequel. But if this is any indication, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing...
Audio: This DD 5.1 soundtrack is quite impressive. Given that this is a horror flick, you’d expect a lot of sudden noises and the disc handles them beautifully. There’s a lot of creaking and odd noises coming from the rear channels, especially during sequences in the basement, so this is certainly a worthy soundtrack.
Video: Equally impressive is this 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. The majority of the film takes place in the dark, and the DVD has no problem in accurately representing those shadowy moments.
Extras: First up is a commentary track with director Rick Rosenthal and editor Robert A. Ferretti. Rosenthal is the dominant voice here, and he’s got a lot of interesting little tidbits to drop. The two cover a lot of ground, from the casting to Rosenthal’s return to the genre. A good track. The next extra is something quite interesting. It’s 40 minutes of that webcam footage edited together, and presented without interruption. Though it’s hard to imagine who would want to sit there and watch the entire thing, it was pretty cool watching some of the murders from the characters’ point of view. There’s also the option of watching this footage with commentary by Rosenthal, who actually manages to talk for the entire 40 minutes without becoming a bore. Next up is a six-minute featurette following the production designer around the set. This was certainly interesting, especially after he reveals that the Michael Myers’ house was built entirely on a set. Next are a couple of four-minute featurettes, one detailing Jamie Lee Curtis’ return to the series while the other follows the evolution of the cameras worn by the actors. Both are entertaining enough, but don’t contain much information beyond the superficial. Still, hearing from Curtis herself was interesting. Next up are six deleted scenes, none of which are particularly insightful – though the shot of Michael driving up to the house was a neat little throwback to the original. All six are available with Rosenthal commentary, as are the three alternate endings that are included. One of the unused endings even contains the death of Michael Myers, but we all know that that’s never too permanent. Also included on the disc are some storyboard comparisons of five scenes, a photo gallery, and a selection of trailers (Halloween: H20, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Gangs of New York, and a couple of promotional spots for Dimension and the Scream trilogy).
Conclusion: Halloween: Resurrection will please fans of the series, but detractors should stay away.
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