Halloween: Resurrection (United States, 2002)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Note to readers: this review contains spoilers. If you care, come back and read the review after you have endured the torture that is Halloween: Resurrection.

There are three levels of quality in the horror genre, all of which are represented in the Halloween series. A good horror movie delivers characters worth caring about and keeps viewers on the edges of their seats with scares aplenty. John Carpenter's seminal Halloween is unquestionably in that category. A mediocre horror movie typically offers two-dimensional individuals trapped in a stale plot, yet is still able to deliver the occasional scare. Halloween installments two, four, and seven fit that description. A bad horror movie is an effective sleep tonic, with plastic, uninteresting stereotypes to go along with an utter lack of shocks, chills, or surprises. This is the division in which Halloweens 3, 5, 6, and 8 belong.

It surprises me that, after nearly 25 years, the Halloween series is still churning out new entries. (I will not use the phrase "still going strong", because it most definitely is not.) Like the main character, Michael Myers, Halloween appears to be unkillable. Since the films are fashioned on shoestring budgets with little care for quality, all they have to do is make back a little money and another installment is guaranteed. Obviously, there's an audience out there for horror - even bad horror. Of all the slasher franchises, none has a more bankable name than Halloween - not even Friday the 13th. Watching the seventh Halloween sequel, however, I reflected on how far this series has fallen. There's no evidence of craftsmanship or energy. Everything, from the plot to the execution, is plodding and obligatory.

The movie begins with a familiar scene - Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode running away from her knife-wielding, masked brother, Michael Myers (Brad Loree). "Wait!" you protest. "Wasn't Michael left headless at the end of H20?" Indeed he was, but a little something like a decapitation can't stop this guy. (In fact, we are informed that Laurie beheaded the wrong man.) So, to quote Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again. All we need is doddering old Doctor Loomis to emerge from the shadows waving a gun and gibbering about "infinite evil". (If Donald Pleasance was still alive, I'm sure that would have happened.) There's a twist to this particular chase, however - Michael catches Laurie and guts her like a fish. Exit Curtis, mercifully relieved from the obligation of having to appear in another Halloween sequel, and the film isn't even fifteen minutes old.

With the long-time heroine dead, the filmmakers seem at a loss about what to do for the rest of the movie. So they turn to The Blair Witch Project for "inspiration." (One word I probably shouldn't use in conjunction with this picture.) Six people are chosen to spend Halloween night in the old Myers house while fitted with special cameras for a live Internet broadcast. Of course, an uninvited guest shows up. Actually, "guest" is the wrong term. Since his entire family has been wiped out, Michael is probably the rightful owner of the property, and he has a severe way of dealing with trespassers.

The only suspense in Halloween: Resurrection is in what order the paper-thin characters will be killed. Michael isn't terribly creative in orchestrating the slayings. This time around, he's a no-frills serial killer, relying strictly on knives. There is one decapitation, but it's mostly stabbings. Director Rick Rosenthal, the man who deserves a share of the blame for Halloween 2, is back at the helm this time around, and, if anything, his work is less inspired. He has a talent for shooting scenes in a way that sucks all possible tension and suspense out of them.

Most of the actors are unknowns, with names like Bianca Kajlich, Daisy McCrackin, Katee Sackhoff, and Luke Kirby. Based on their performances, they aren't likely to become household names in the near future. The first-billed actor is Busta Rhymes (playing the man in charge of the Internet broadcast), who must have busted something to agree to appear in this. (Then again, if it was good enough for Donald Pleasance...) Promising young performer Sean Patrick Thomas is one of the six guinea pigs, but he will undoubtedly omit this title from his "official" filmography.

There is one curious thing about this movie. The director seems to intend for the audience not to identify with the cardboard-cutout victims, but with Michael. Let's face it - despite the blank mask and zombie-like gait, he's the best developed character in the film. Pure evil is more interesting than a vacuum. Towards the end, when one of the survivors decides to go after Michael with a chain saw, I found myself rooting for the venerable villain to grab the saw and turn it on its wielder. Or, failing that, on the crew responsible for making the film. In the end, Michael "dies" again, but that's just a temporary inconvenience. In fact, just before the credits roll, Halloween: Resurrection offers its only moment of pure, unadulterated horror: the promise of another movie in this woebegone series.

Halloween: Resurrection (United States, 2002)

Run Time: 1:30
U.S. Release Date: 2002-07-12
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1