31 Days Of Horror: Halloween: Resurrection

Today’s film is Halloween: Resurrection (2002), which was the first Halloween film I was able to go and see in the cinema.  I was seventeen then, which as we saw in the last film is a notable age for Halloween characters, so it was nice that an entry in the series came out that year!  If you’re paying attention, though, you’ll notice that the film is actually set in 2001, because it’s stated to be three years since the events of 1998’s Halloween H20.  From what I remember, this was because the film was originally meant to come out in 2001, but suffered from production delays.

Halloween: Resurrection
Another ‘head lineup’ example of film promotion.

We hear about this three-year gap as part of the ludicrous opening backstory from the nurses in the mental institution in which Laurie Strode is now being held.  Apparently the man Laurie beheaded at the end of the last film was not Michael but instead a random paramedic – Michael had set this up by putting his mask on this guy and crushing his throat so he couldn’t tell anyone he wasn’t Michael Myers.  This ridiculous retcon obviously doesn’t solve all the problems with the scenario.  Watch the last scene of Halloween H20 again and you’ll see ‘Michael’ clutching his head and face, feeling that he’s got a mask on.  Why didn’t he take off the mask to show that he wasn’t Michael?  This also ruins the oddly touching moment that I discussed yesterday.

Laurie has been mute for three years, according to the nurses.  When they leave the room, we see she’s not as messed up as she’s pretending to be – she’s not actually swallowing the pills they give her, instead hiding them inside a doll.

Another patient, Harold, likes dressing up as serial killers and is constantly being caught wandering the grounds in different masks, cosplaying as his favourite psychopaths.  This raises a lot of questions about the competence of the facility.  Where is Harold getting his masks from?  Why is he allowed them?  The point of this character, of course, is to ensure that when the security guards see Michael Myers on the security cameras wandering around the basement, they think it’s Harold.  The guards are easily picked off as a result.

Despite Laurie setting up lots of traps on the roof, Michael finally manages to kill her, because when she has the chance to kill him, she instead decides she has to be sure this time and so tries to take his mask off, enabling him to stab her first.  ‘I’ll see you in hell,’ she says before falling to her death, which is a bit of an abrupt end for such an important character.

Rather cutely, Michael decides not to kill Harold, instead giving him his knife as a souvenir!  This leads into an epic monologue from Harold, listing all of Michael’s murders, which emphasises that we are still very much in the H20 continuity that ignores 4/5/6.

The action moves to Haddonfield University, where we meet main character Sara.  If you’re keeping score at home, you’ll remember that we only just had a character called Sarah in the last film.  This irritating lack of character name imagination occurs a lot in this film, as we’ll see throughout the review.

Sara’s friends Jenny and Rudy are excited about being picked for an internet broadcast called ‘Dangertainment’ that’s about to be filmed in the Myers house. ‘We could be bigger than the Osbournes!’ says Jenny, dating the film horribly.  I want to note that I absolutely hate the ‘isn’t this Web 2.0 thing new and exciting’ theme that characterised films and TV of the early ’00s.  Because information technology moves so quickly in this century, over-featuring the latest messenger software and mobile phones is an absolutely surefire way to ensure that people watching the film in twenty years’ time will laugh at the quaintness of the whole thing.  Media makers have still not really learnt their lesson about this (as shown by the number of songs in the charts at the moment that refer to things like Instagram Stories and Snapchat filters, which will have the kids of the 2020s and beyond shaking their heads and going ‘what?’), but the whole ‘wow! isn’t this technological century exciting!’ thing is not as prevalent as it was fifteen years ago.

We get a nice bit with a creepy fellow student doing the whole ‘you’re doomed!’ speech in lieu of Dr Loomis, but sadly we don’t see this character again.  Sara, meanwhile, turns out to be sort-of ‘online dating’ a high school freshman student who hasn’t told her his age.

Freddie (Busta Rhymes) and Nora (Tyra Banks) are in charge of Dangertainment.  I am pretty sure neither of them have done much acting either before or after this film.  In another bit of unimaginative naming, Nora is a very similar name to Norma from the previous film.

Most of the students chosen for Dangertainment are total idiots – Jenny is vapid and just wants to be famous, Rudy has a gory, morbid sense of humour, Bill is really pervy, Jim is really creepy, and Donna is just pretentious.  Sara is the only one who comes across as normal.  When she visits Freddie in his dorm room (Freddie’s a student?  He looks far too old, and with good reason – Busta Rhymes was thirty when this film came out!) and tries to back out of the project, he explains that her ‘normalness’ is the reason he wants her on the show, because she’s ‘real’.  Freddie is also shown to love kung-fu movies, but not quite as much as he loves himself.

Back to Sara’s ‘online boyfriend’, who calls himself Deckard, and his fellow freshman friend.  Deckard wants to stay in for Hallowe’en and watch Sara on Dangertainment, but his friend is insistent that they have to go to a party instead, because it’s a really big honour for freshmen to be invited to a party hosted by older students.  ‘Your sister invited us so you wouldn’t tell your mother about her tattoo,’ retorts Deckard, which was a line I really appreciated at the time, since a major feature of my late teens was me and my mates constantly getting tattoos that our parents didn’t approve of.

The nasty shaky primitive internet camera used for the broadcast is incredibly irritating to watch, and is another thing that dates the film now that we’re in the age of slick YouTubers!

Nora is setting the broadcast up from a small studio with lots of screens for the different cameras, liaising via walkie-talkie with a cameraman.  The cameraman is called Charley, which is another slightly-differently-spelt reused name from the previous film – this is fairly infuriating now.  He quickly gets offed by Michael, but Nora is too busy dancing to a CD she’s put on and hence conveniently turning her back on the screens to see him getting killed.

Michael Myers is ‘a mystery wrapped up in a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, according to Freddie.  This phrase crops up in fiction a lot, but apparently originated with Winston Churchill.

The students enter the Myers house, and immediately things don’t seem right.  The ‘forty year old’ ingredients in the kitchen cupboards smell fresh, according to student chef Rudy, and there’s a creepy baby high chair with chains on it, which indicates the whole broadcast is obviously a setup.  Unfortunately the participants are a bit thick, and so they’re nowhere near close to realising this fact yet.

Deckard and his friend are clearly only at the teen party to add some visual interest and comedy relief to the film, seeing as Deckard spends the whole party on a PC watching the broadcast – other partygoers join him in watching the show as the film goes on!

Bill gets killed by Michael through a mirror, but Freddie and Nora are too self-absorbed to notice what’s happening on the screen in front of them.  The students in the Myers house find more creepy obviously-planted toys, and Rudy finally realises that the whole thing is fake.

Donna and Jim start getting it on in the basement, only to be fallen on top of by a creepy skeleton.  Watching in the studio, Freddie and Nora high-five, for the benefit of the one remaining viewer who hasn’t realised they’re the ones who’ve set all this stuff up.  Donna and Jim realise the skeleton’s fake, and Freddie decides to up the ante by donning a Michael Myers mask and entering the house.  We then get a ridiculous comedy scene of one Michael Myers stalking another.  Freddie notices the real Michael behind him, thinks it’s Charley, and has a go at him for ruining the setup, telling him to get out of the house.  Strangely, the real Michael obeys, despite there being no reason for him not to try to kill Freddie at this point.

Jim leaves the basement, but Donna investigates the hole/tunnel revealed by the fake skeleton.  She finds a news clipping about Laurie Strode, a half-dead rat (ew!) and Laurie’s doll from the sanatorium, indicating that she’s found the real Michael’s lair.  Before she can warn the others, she gets chased down by Michael and killed.

Jenny and Rudy are smoking a bong in an upstairs room, which is a flagrant breach of Scream‘s Rule 2.  Sara, meanwhile, freaks out when she thinks she sees Michael roaming around, and drags Rudy downstairs to investigate.  The fake Michael leaps out and drags Sara along the ground, but has to reveal himself to be Freddie when Rudy starts beating him up.  Sara, Jim and Rudy are angry at being set up, but Freddie implores them to finish the broadcast, promising that they’ll be well-paid.

Meanwhile, the stoned Jenny discovers Bill’s corpse, and runs out to the landing screaming.  The real Michael materialises behind her and chops her head off with a knife (grim!), meaning the other characters finally realise what’s going on.  This is the point where the students start dropping like flies – Freddie is seemingly knocked out, Jim gets his head crushed, and Rudy gets killed in exactly the same way as Bob from the first film, which is a morbid but much-appreciated callback.

It’s cute that Deckard can direct Sara around the house via old-fashioned early ’00s text messaging.  This leads to a well-done tense sequence as Sara hides from Michael.

Freddie turns out to be still alive, and he and Sara try to escape together.  This leads to a slightly cringeworthy scene where Freddie uses his kung-fu movie knowledge to kick Michael out of the window and suspend him from a cable.  However, by the time Sara and Freddie have had a lengthy debrief by the front door (WHY are they not running straight out of it?), Michael has escaped his predicament, and stabs Freddie from behind.

Sara, still allergic to the front door, goes down into the basement to play find-the-body.  Climbing up through the tunnel to the Dangertainment studio, she finds that Nora has been killed offscreen.  Luckily, there’s a convenient chainsaw stashed in the cupboard, which means Sara can carry out CHAINSAW REVENGE! on Michael…until the chainsaw runs out of fuel.

The leaking fuel sets the studio hut aflame, and Sara is trapped by a fallen table.  Must be a fairly heavy table if she can’t push it off herself.  Michael readies for the kill, but Freddie’s still not dead yet. ‘Trick or treat, motherf***er!’ he says as he blasts Michael into a burning wall, which must be the worst line of dialogue in the entire Halloween franchise.

Wrapped in a ‘horror film survivor blanket’, Sara speaks to the press (and thanks Deckard for saving her life, leading to him becoming the hero of the high school party), as does Freddie, who is a character that really shouldn’t have survived this film by rights.  When have we ever seen the idiot who decides to stir up danger actually surviving a horror film?  That character is always meant to be satisfyingly killed about halfway through the film, as penance for his own stupidity.  Those are the rules!  As a result, this ending feels very unsatisfactory.

Michael has seemingly burnt to death, but long-time viewers will know better.  In the morgue, his eyes open, and the credits roll.

Another quick break from Halloween tomorrow!

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