Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

We must start with the opening. This made me so mad. I almost turned off the movie and swore off the franchise. I suppose any sort of sequel would need to find some way to bring Michael Myers back to life after the mic drop decapitation at the end of Halloween H20. But this is the worst kind of retconning. It was all a big silly trick and everything we thought we saw was bunk. This opening flashback and subsequent set piece is a dreary bummer, and also a big tease. It sets up the expectation that the movie will once again center on Laurie and trace her crumbling sanity. But she disappears and is gone the rest of the film, presumably dead; Jamie Lee Curtis may as well have not appeared at all if her role was going to be such a perfunctory write-off. (She’s completely checked out for her few minutes on screen, anyways.)

After this false start, the movie pivots to an entirely different story and tone, and it’s one I like a lot, though I understand why plenty of others might not. In fact, the rest of Halloween: Resurrection is fun enough that I nearly forgot how grumpy I was after the opening. (Nearly.)

What Resurrection is from the 17 minute point onwards is a goofy, early 2000’s time capsule that fairly effectively grapples with the rapid technological and media changes going on circa ‘02. All of that is rendered as an escape room-style slasher. It’s Scream without being so directly meta, which at least removes the smugness of that film. There’s also a sprinkling of Blair Witch Project in here — the use of camcorder-style shots simulate, for moments at a time, found footage horror, a rising trend in ’02.

The premise is borderline clever, though I seem to be the only one who thinks so: A reality show set in the crumbling old Myers house. A group of teens must endure one spooky night in the house, but the producers plan a fake Myers ambush, only for the real Myers to pop in and spoil the party.

The border between constructed narrative and dangerous reality blurs as the night wears on and the teens are murdered, one by one. The movie plays up the ambiguity of the danger and its artifice for unsettling juxtaposition: the in-film audience of the fake reality show laughs when it should be screaming. It offers some tonal subversion that takes critical aim at the desensitized horror fans who worship movies like Halloween. The premise also offers a prescient, albeit thin, slice of satire on our obsession with violent media — one that feels more prominent in the Dahmer-obsessed 2022 than ever.

On the flip side, Halloween has never been cornier than this. There’s a  Busta Rhymes kung fu kick (”trick or treat, motherfucker!”) and an inexplicable sex scene and lots of emphasis on hilariously dated technology like “phone mail.” Tyra Banks appears for a scene or two mostly to shake her ass. The tone of the whole thing is midnight screening popcorn fun, which belies and obfuscates the film’s thoughtful (perhaps unintentional) underbelly which questions the evolving ways we consume prurient, exploitative media.

The film is certainly a shoddy construction in many ways. The characters are the blandest quip-creatures I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. The editing is not up to the task of assembling the ambitious blend of footage angles and styles into a pleasing and coherent whole. And there’s no arc or story to speak of. Just flesh to be slashed. But as a playful little one-act-play thrill ride, it steamrolls its flaws by just being damn fun.

The ending is a downer because the final girl Sara needs to get rescued by a man — twice! — rather than escaping by her own mettle. And there’s a smirk of a final scene — the real titular resurrection happens in the film’s quarter-second-long final shot. Unlike most of the previous Halloweens, there’s no attempt at gravity in the closing moments.

Halloween: Resurrection is a fun blend of mildly clever satire and Twinkie-level junk food to keep the slasher format engaging and watchable. At least after that downright offensive opening bit.

Is It Good?

Nearly Good (4/8)

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