Halloween: Resurrection

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A disposable character is trying to fight off Michael Meyers. His only hope is... Tyra Banks. A dubious savior at best, but effective if she would just turn her head. But alas, she doesn't see or hear his cries for help. This is because she's too busy - and I'm not making this up - shaking her booty to the latest R&B singles and talking on her paper-thin cell phone, all while making herself an extra-foamy frappucino - no doubt available in your theatre lobby. This scene more than any other sums up most, but not all of the problems with HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION.

The film opens up three years after the events in HALLOWEEN: H20, a film I still mockingly refer to as HALLOWEEN: WATER. We open with a familiar face, Laurie Strode, played by horror movie legend Jamie Lee Curtis, who brings some much-needed dignity to the proceedings. Things are off to a promising start, and it works better than most of the film. But even in this beginning, things fall apart. There are some decent moments of suspense in the film's prologue but not near enough. The opening to this eighth installment never feels like anything less than what it is - an excuse to quickly shove the old plot out of the way for the newer, younger cast. Thus, it hits the wrong notes when the tune matters most. Without giving anything away, I will say devotees of the series should feel disappointed and fear what is to come in the next 72 minutes.

That out of the way, the title finally appears on screen and the film proper finally begins. We meet our new pack of college students - Sara (Bianca Kajlich - DAWSON'S CREEK, BOSTON PUBLIC), shallow but ambitious best friend Jenna (Katee Sackhoff - THE EDUCATION OF MAX BICKFORD) and culinary student Rusty (Sean Patrick Thomas - SAVE THE LAST DANCE, BARBERSHOP). They've just best accepted to be contestants on a special webcast called Dangertainment.

Dangertainment's premise is this: a group of young people will enter the Michael Meyers house and stay the night. As one character says, "It's not exactly a house you can put on the market." Of course, it is a house that was put on the market. But remember, we're supposed to pretend HALLOWEEN 3-6 never happened.

The rest of the group is made up of horny but weird Bill (Thomas Ian Nichols - the AMERICAN PIE movies), horny but very weird Jim (Luke Kirby - LOST AND DELIRIOUS) and critical studies major Donna (Daisy McCrackin), who probably isn't as hard to get as she seems. The production is the brain child of Busta Rhymes (NARC, SHAFT) with a little help from Banks.

The rest of the plot is pretty simple, the group enters the house, not realizing that Michael has come home to get some rest and eat a few rats. He slices the group up one by one. Watching the proceedings online is an annoying high school freshman (Ryan Merriman - TAKEN, DEEP END OF THE OCEAN) who tries to lend a helping hand.

Many Dimension productions have been tainted by the push towards hipness and fadishness. From self-referential horror films to the Virgin Megastore plugs in DRACULA 2000, the Weinsteins have never hidden that their true bread and butter is the youth market and they aren't above marketing them to death. I'm not completely above jumping on the bandwagon. But there has to be something more - trendy and quality are not the same thing. Scenes like the previously mentioned Banks groaner are all over the place here. That may make this the most MTV-friendly entry, but it also makes it the entry that will age quickest.

Rick Rosenthal previously helmed the admirable HALLOWEEN II, so, you'd think he'd be a competent person to complete this film. But surprisingly, there is very little style here. The only original touches seem to be the webcams. But even that has been done to death over the last couple years. The rest doesn't look any different than what you would find on the average TV show.

Speaking of shows, that's the other major problem with HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. The webcast is supposed to keep people glued to their monitors. But what is it really? It's a bunch of people wandering through a house. If the killings didn't start happening, I doubt many would have tuned in. Would you watch? No matter what does happen the premise was the same and it kept running through my head - "It's a bunch of people walking through a house."

Rhymes does throw around a few red herrings to accentuate the entertainment - or "dangertainment" value. But no matter how many fake limbs are lying around, he is requiring a lot from your contestants. The success of the show depends on three things - 1. that they wouldn't catch on, 2. that they would manage to cover all the lame surprises lying around and 3. that they would play along if they did discover the creative license going on. Otherwise, you've got a program that would make BIG BROTHER look like ALIAS.

The closest thing out there to Dangertainment is MTV'S FEAR. But they have the good sense to use editing techniques (often too many, but that's another review) and give appropriate information when things are slow. They wouldn't ask you to tune in for an all-night session where people interact with a old dump even Bob Villa couldn't salvage. Michael Meyers probably saved the show's ratings.

Which reminds me, I owe a sincere apology to the fans of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise. In the past, I've said some disparaging things about Kane Hodder, that it doesn't matter who plays the villain in these films since it's just a stuntman in a mask. But I was wrong. I get it now, because Brad Loree is an absolutely terrible Michael Meyers. He walks all wrong, cocks his head from side to side and seems to be making up what he does with his arms as he goes along. It's the first time I've ever noticed a poor performance by someone whose only job was to wear a mask and look menacing.

One thing I will say in Rosenthal's favor is that unlike some other directors tackling the slasher genre these days, he doesn't seem to skimp on the gore. There is not an excessive amount here, but certainly more than I expected. So, if gore is your thing, there's something to watch here. But if you wanted anything resembling story, character interaction or suspense, forget it.

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION is easily the worst entry in the series. It's dull, insipid and just when you think it can't get any more shameless, they throw in a moral. The series has never sunk this low.

Reviewed by Scott W. Davis