Riding on the coattails of the entire Scream-inspired slasher revival, Halloween: H20was one of the biggest successes of the new breed of self-referential slashers. It reunited the original scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, with her polar opposite, the elusive Michael Myers. H20 brought a prestige to the series that had long been missing since the dreadful Halloween 6 . With Michael seemingly beheaded at the end of H20, it seemed as if the series had finally come to an end. Loyal fans know though, that as long as Akkad is behind the scenes, then the series will never die. Thus, now after four long years, is the sequel, The Halloween Project, err - Halloween: Resurrection.
Resurrection begins with a long tracking shot that comes to reveal a bereaved and worn Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Laurie is now in a mental institution, as it is discovered that she accidentally cut off someone else's head at the climax of H20 (whoops!). She sits motionless, almost comatose, not having spoken a word since the events in H20. She looks out her window waiting - knowing, that Michael will be back to visit her once and for all. Michael does return, and Laurie and him face off on a rooftop in a scene that bridges the series between the old and the new.
After the face off between good and evil, Michael returns to his home in Haddonfield, where a group of people are getting ready for an internet broadcast. Freddie (coincidence?) Harris (Busta Rhymes) and Nora Winston (Tyra Banks) are the masterminds behind "Dangertainment". With their program, they are thrusting six college students into Michael's apparently untouched home for them to discover. Strapped with webcams for the remainder of the film, these teens discover a little more than empty halls and dusty artifacts. Michael has come home, and one by one he stalks and kills those horny, drug-using teens.
Sara Moyer (Bianca Kajlich - from Kevin Williamson's Dawson's Creek) becomes a neo-stand-in for Laurie Strode, and she lets her lungs go wild as she runs from Michael throughout the climax of the film. She differs from all the other contestants in that she is quiet and intelligent, like Laurie Strode. She has an online relationship with a young guy with the online name of "Deckard". Deckard watches the online broadcast as it happens, but can he help Sara survive the visceral night of terror?
Halloween: Resurrection is two very different short films amalgamated together. One film is the bookend to the old series, and the other is a doorway into the new. The opening fifteen minutes with Jamie Lee Curtis are so strong and well done, that is a shame that the film deviates into standard slasher fare. In the Laurie-Michael conflict that starts the film, Halloween holds a certain level of poetry. Laurie says at the start that: "At the end there's a door. And waiting for you on the other side of that door is either heaven or hell." This statement establishes the subtext that has followed all of the Curtis-involved Halloween films, but it also creates a new theme unique to the series.
As Michael goes to the mental institution to visit Laurie, he breaks down the door that separates him, hell, from Laurie, who represents heaven. Thus, the domains of good and evil have been blurred to create a one singular conflict. Laurie is devoid of beauty in Resurrection; her face is so weathered and hollow that she herself looks no different than Michael's mask. Both have become emotionless visages; they are devoid of any feelings or vibrancy. Laurie Strode has come, as a character, full circle. In the first Halloween , Loomis sought out Michael in an institution, and now nearly 25 years later, Michael goes after Laurie, also in an institution.
There is nothing left inside of Laurie Strode, she is still strong, but she has lost her zest and zeal for life. When Michael and her finally face off on the rooftop of the sanitarium, the two opposites of good and evil finally become one. As Michael and Laurie hang from the roof, clenched together arm in arm, the two polarities mesh for the first time ever in the series. Michael has eroded Laurie's essence to the point that she has become no different than him. With a kiss, Laurie acknowledges her fate and allows Michael to complete the transformation. They become one in that final shot, and it contains a poetry as lyrical as Carpenter's vision in the first film.
The confrontation between Laurie and Michael is so strong, that the rest of the film just seems as a kind of filler to pad the running time to 90 minutes. The whole webcam subplot lacks any sense of character or motivation. These college kids are just thrown in a house and they comply by all the slasher conventions and allow Michael to do his yearly business. Bianca Kajlich makes a decent substitute for Jamie Lee Curtis, but her character is just not given enough story or screen time to establish any sense of connection with the viewer.
One character though, that is given life throughout the film, is that of Michael Myers. Played by newcomer Brad Loree, this is the scariest The Shape has been since Nick Castle suited up in the first film. He is not a massive bodybuilder like so many of the slasher icons have deteriorated into; he is that guy from behind picket fences and freshly cut lawns that made the Michael Myers character so effective in the first film. Loree's Michael Myers is human, and the way that director Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II) photographs him sheathed in darkness only adds to his ominous presence.
The webcam gimmick also does a good deal in creating a kind of gritty fright throughout the film. Although somewhat derivative from The Blair Witch Project , it brings the viewers into the eyes of the victims, and it does help make the premise all the more effecting. The problem is though, that the characters we are supposed to identify with are shallow and underdeveloped. We end up admiring Rosenthal's ability to create and sustain a mood, rather than actually being scared like we should be.
A review of this film would not be complete without a mention of Busta Rhymes. If he is the kind of Donald Pleasence substitute that the new age of Halloween will embody, then future installments of the series could be in big trouble. Sprouting such lyrical and elegiac lines such as "Trick or treat mutha' fucka'!" in a way he brings the second half of the film to a new low. Halloween has always been a series above the normal slashers; even compared to the Friday the 13th films, Halloween has always been different in that it has always taken itself seriously.
Halloween has always been the artier and darker series in the slasher cycle, but Busta Rhymes (the name is a farce in and of itself) has sunk the series into a comedic fright fest. When he breaks out in kung fu at the end of the film, it is an image that is scarier than any other in the series. Just as Laurie comes full circle, from innocent to destroyed, so does the series in the second half of Resurrection. It starts off serious and scary, but in the end Busta Rhymes takes it as a comedy.
One man alone, no matter how bad, cannot destroy a film, and in the end, Halloween: Resurrection is a solid entry into the series. While the second half may be standard slasher fare, it does feature some technical competency and artistic flare by Rick Rosenthal. It is the first 15 minutes though, that conflict between Michael and Laurie, that makes this film a must see for Halloween fans. Jamie Lee's performance is so gutsy and great that everyone should see it as a major historical moment in horror. She is ending THE longest running conflict ever in horror, and the manner in which it is presented is thrilling. If you hate films in the new slasher mold, then turn Resurrection off after Laurie's story is completed. The rest of the film may be filler, but the opening will be one that ranks with some of the best moments of modern horror.
Presented in a very sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Halloween: Resurrection looks great. The blacks that are predominant throughout the entire film are very deep and solid. The webcam shots are stylishly grained, but the actual film footage is crystal clear. After Buena Vista's non-anamorphic H20 fumbling, this is finally a Halloween transfer to really get excited about. The production design of the film is fairly elaborate, and the film thus has a very distinguished and polished look to it that this transfer really brings out. Nearly flawless.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the only one included on the disc (the DTS track was dropped), but is sounds great. While there is not a whole lot of directional movement in the back, plenty of atmosphere is created in the rear speakers. The music and various sound effects are littered in the rear throughout, and really create a strong ambience throughout the film. This track also does a great job of capturing the feel of the interiors shown in the movie. When characters are in the underground sewer, the overall sound contains nice echoes and sounds rightfully hollow. This track is very active throughout, and really gives a good bass workout. There could have been a bit more direction in the track, but overall this is a great mix that complements the video.
Fans of the two original slasher icons, Michael and Jason, have been treated to three stellar discs in 2002. First were the great New Line discs, Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X , and now there is Halloween: Resurrection. This disc is easily the most complete of the three, featuring hours of behind the scenes footage and commentary. Upon inserting the disc, five quick sneak peeks for Dimension Films, Gangs of New York, the Scream Trilogy and Halloween 6 and H20 . They are all fairly short, and can be skipped with the chapter forward button.
On to the real supplements, first up is a film commentary with Director Rick Rosenthal and Editor Robert Ferretti. Both participants are very vocal throughout the track and have affection for the final product on screen. They do give some nice anecdotes about the film, like the fact that Bianca Kajlich cannot scream and thus had to be dubbed. Not really all that promising considering she is supposed to be the next Scream Queen. The track is a little on the light side though; it is a pleasant diversion, but not really all that revealing.
Next up is a lengthy 40-minute WebCam Special with optional Rosenthal commentary. The footage here is basically the whole second part of Resurrection edited in a linear fashion, from start to end, all through the views of the webcams. It is an interesting comparison piece to the actual film, and Rosenthal's insights are well spoken and interesting. There is some great footage here of Michael killing his victims that is arguably scarier than anything in the finished product.
Being a Jamie Lee Curtis devotee, my favorite supplement was the 4-minute "On The Set With Jamie Lee Curtis" featurette. Although it is too short, there are some great behind the scenes footage included of Jamie Lee in action. This footage is intertwined with some of the cast and crew giving her praise. Jamie Lee also talks to the camera, saying how she wanted to make Laurie's demise a very important arc in the series. It is a great tribute to a great actress!
Moving on, there are a handful of deleted scenes and alternate endings. The deleted scenes make up a little over 7-minutes, and feature some interesting footage of Michael's baby pictures(!), and a great shot of Michael arriving home. There are three alternate endings, and all are very cool. One involves Deckard coming to the rescue, the other has Michael lunging out of a manhole, but the last one is the one to watch. Michael finally gets his revenge on Busta's wisecracking, if only for a moment. It is a great ending that should have been included in the film. All the aforementioned scenes contain optional self-explanatory commentary by a laid back Rosenthal.
There are five storyboard to screen comparisons that run a little over 4-minutes, and they are quite good. They can be viewed together, or as either the storyboards or the film alone, via the angle button on your DVD player. A nice addition is a "Tour of the set with Production Designer" featurette that runs a little over 7-minutes. It is quite revealing, and shows how they recreated Michael's house on a back lot set, complete with wallpaper comparisons and everything. Troy Hansen, the designer, really has a respect for the Halloween films, and it is nice to hear what he has to say in regarding to the whole Halloween look.
There is an 85 picture still gallery also included on the disc, and it features some great shots from the film and behind the scenes. Lastly, there is a little 4-minute fluff piece entitled "Head Cam Featurette", which talks about (you guessed it!) the cameras placed on the actor's noggins.
When all is said and done, this is one of the best discs Buena Vista's Dimension line has ever done. It is packed to the seams with plenty of interesting featurettes and footage that will appease even the most devoted Halloween fan. A commentary with the Scream Queen would have been ideal (especially after the blunder on the whole H20 disc), but the supplements packed on this disc will more than suffice!
Halloween: Resurrection is one part brilliance and the other part mediocrity. The Jamie Lee Curtis confrontation is lyrical and fantastic, while the second half with a farcical Busta Rhymes is decent but somewhat unspectacular. As far as the disc goes though, everything is top-notch. The video is sharp, the audio aggressive, and the supplements immense. Halloween fans will probably own this disc already, but fans of modern horror in general need to check it out for the closure of the Laurie Strode character alone. Kung fu chop your way to your local retailer and pick up this disc now!
Movie - C+
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - A
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