Director: Rick Rosenthal
Screenplay: Larry Brand and Sean Hood
Cast: Busta Rhymes (as Freddie Harris); Bianca Kajlich (as Sara Moyer); Thomas Ian Nicholas (as Bill Woodlake); Ryan Merriman (as Myles Deckard Barton); Daisy McCrackin (as Donna Chang); Jamie Lee Curtis (as Laurie Strode)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #68
[WARNING - THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS]
If Halloween H20 (1998) was a perfect end to a franchise, give or take its flaws, than Resurrection is a diarrhoea stain on said end. As much as Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) is atrocious, that was as much down to viewing a theatrical cut that was badly put together to the point of shambolic. Resurrection has no excuse, arguably the worst of them all technically in spite of how technically slick it is for how lifeless the result is. Even with higher production values than most of the franchise, the result here for all its surface gloss is as vapid as you can get even in the context of a slasher film sequel. A great deal of this is that the early 2000s are for me one of the worst periods of American cinema to ever exist in terms of the mainstream. Yes, great films were still being made in the USA at this point, but somehow because of how great of year 1999 was, there had to be a nosedive to address the balance immediately after. For every good film, there's a Dude, Where's My Car (2000), the live action Scooby Doo (2002), to a larger extent the dead end of post-Scream (1996) trendy horror films which Halloween: Resurrection firmly belongs to when they fell off the rails. In the eighties you can accept horror franchises getting away with contrived sequels, but during the early 2000s, which I grew up in, you suffered from a dire aesthetic that made such films less tolerable let alone one-off new premises. Flat, colourless direction, using flashy post-MTV editing and sheen that is ultimately tedious, a dreary American high school veneer, and terrible alt-rock and c-grade nu-metal, stuff in vast contrast to film franchises back in the decades like A Nightmare on Elm Street that had synth scores, glam metal and gooey special effects alongside their rainbow colour aesthetic and infectious sense of fun.
The problems inherently start with the prologue. The ending of H20, a perfect franchise conclusion, was already intended to be written over with disregard for the emotional investment it would provide viewers, Michael Myers surviving a decapitation and Jamie Lee Curtis reduced to a cameo. Ironically however I find that whilst it's a cheap shock to kill Laurie Strode off - more so now in reflection of how, done other times in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, and mainly to final girls, it's becoming problematic for me in the disposal of the characters - it's the only part of the film which has any interest despite also being inherently blasphemous in rewriting the previous prequel's ending. Also knowing it was Curtis openly finding a way so she didn't have to keep appearing in further sequels, respect for her if any, softens the blow. There's some emotion investment and tension to be found in a mentally frayed Strode taking a one last stand against Myers, using traps and planning for him in a mental institution, making the duplicitous decision of changing the narrative of H20's ending, when they could've either remade the series or found another way around it, at least palatable in some way despite the bitterness of it.
After that, it's a completely different film, once which feels like a generic slasher with the Halloween title and iconography slapped onto it, about a group of people entering the Myers family house as part of an online reality TV show, to explore it and according to the show's brain Freddie Harris (rapper Busta Rhymes) try to understand how one of America's worse serial killers came to be. The terrible aesthetic of the era doesn't compromise the moodiness of film, some semblance of atmosphere which does redeem the results a little, but it cannot sustain itself as everything else is dreadful. Flat, overbearing musical stings, lifeless quips instead of dialogue and so forth. The worst offender is the editing, so choppy and constant like so many films from the 2000s onwards that you may actually be able to mark when this terrible creative decision started to infect Hollywood films just from carbon dating the Halloween franchise.
Another factor is how, in this early 2000s period, likable young adult characters in American horror films were starting to disappear on the wayside; brutally, a lot of slasher films from the eighties don't have memorable characters, but American horror before at least, at its best, had likable figures. Unfortunately, I suspect a side effect of Scream's popularity, particularly its witty script by Kevin Williamson, was that many future films in this genre attempted to follow its lead without decent scripts of funny dialogue or actors who could perform charisma instead of vitriol. Busta Rhymes is notoriously bad in the film but it's not only the dialogue that does him a disservice, comparing Michael Myers to a killer shark doing no one favours, but how unspeakable wooden he is on-screen too. If the production had to cast a hip-hop artist in a role, they should've remember one film previous, rather than suddenly develop short term amnesia, and how that worked perfectly in H20 with LL Cool J proving to have incredible cinematic presence; instead of remembering this you have Busta Rhymes who doesn't, someone who is probably as charismatic as you can get in his albums and music videos but certainly isn't here. It's worst knowing, even against stiff competition in previous sequels, Bianca Kajlich is a terrible void of a final girl with little to work with, how obnoxious Katee Sackhoff is as a shrill fame obsessive, how already painful it was to have a vulgar pothead in a film by this point when it was still a relatively fresh idea from 1999 or so, how embarrassing it is for Sean Patrick Thomas' entire dialogue to be food based culinary observations of a bad diet turning Michael Myers into a killer, and how the only memorable person in the rest of cast is Daisy McCrackin because a) she's vaguely feisty as the psychology student who yet flirts with others out of her own desire to and b) I have an obsession with natural redheads with leads to utter idolisation.
As bland as it is, Resurrection at least had an interest idea within that could've been drawn out and worked on, dealing with the internet and reality TV as early as it did. My Little Eye (2002) was neck to neck with it in the same ideas but imagining the cynical nature of reality TV involve literally travelling around serial killer's mind, taking liberties in something close to meta-parody in cramming the Myers home with blatantly fake explanations for his life like a baby chair with straps on it, is a clever idea. It's also clever to have the final girl being helped online by a potential love interest watching the show as it airs, something that in any other film could've be stretched into a truly memorable movie. But Resurrection is entirely wasteful as a movie, even making The Curse of Michael Myers more bearable in comparison. It would take until 2007, and a full blown remake of the first film, to continue the franchise, completely starting from the beginning. It's not surprising why having revisited Halloween: Resurrection.