Director: Rick Rosenthal
Studio: Dimension Films, Nightfall Productions
Starring: Busta Rhymes, Bianca Kajlich, Ryan Merriman, Sean Patrick Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas; ft. Jamie Lee Curtis, Tyra Banks
Tagline: Evil Finds its Way Home
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: slasher, psychopath, serial killer, masked murderer
Scare score: B+
Plot overview: In the final installment of the original Halloween series, Michael (Brad Loree) finishes his business with sister Laurie (Curtis) but returns home to where a live internet broadcast of Danger-Tainment is taking place on Halloween night. The program, run by Freddie (Rhymes) and Nora (Banks), has set up cameras all over the house as well as point-of-view cameras to be worn by each of the six randomly chosen participants: college students Donna (Daisy McCrackin), Bill (Nicholas), Jen (Katee Sackhoff), Jim (Luke Kirby), Rudy (Thomas), and Sara (Kajlich). With the help of Sara’s chat room pen pal Myles “Deckard” (Merriman), the reality show cast begins to realize that the real Michael Meyers is in the house, killing off everybody one by one. While still being broadcast live, the reality show becomes a real fight for survival.
There’s a little bit of everything in this movie, from The Breakfast Club to House on Haunted Hill meets Halloween meets 21st century technology, which means this film is practically for everyone, right? Wrong. Horror fans should enjoy the comic nature of the movie, as well as some of the exciting kills. Halloween fans might not be as accepting of this film, although they might respect the return to the Meyers househould, ‘where it all began,’ as they say. In general, though, this is a nice gateway for fans of typical teen slashers (with a very early-2000s feel) into the far greater realm of Halloween.
It’s a treat to see Jamie Lee Curtis in the first 15 minutes of the film, even though she doesn’t seem her usual self. I guess that 24 years of your psychopathic older brother chasing you and killing off your family and friends will do that. Given her situation, from a legal standpoint I really don’t think Laurie would have ended up in a sanitarium for accidentally killing the wrong person, but whatever it makes for a swift goodbye to Laurie and Miss Curtis, who wanted to be done with the Halloween movies for good.
With Laurie out of the picture, however, Michael returns to his M.O. of the second movie, instead of the first and H20 – that is, killing anybody he comes across instead of those who directly prevent him from getting to Laurie. Although I guess it’s acceptable that he isn’t too happy with a bunch of young intruders in his home. Speaking of which, I’m really happy that the Meyers house in this film looks remotely like the one in the original film – unlike the ghastly changes we saw in movies IV, V, and VI – although agreeably they don’t pertain to the same sequel universe as H20 and this one.
The characters are all shallow, but they are still entertaining. We have a few oversexed college students (surprise, surprise) who present us with such a contrast to Sara that we know from her first few seconds that she’ll be the final girl. I really liked Busta Rhymes as Freddie (never thought I’d write that), who was both tough and tender, depending on whether or not he was watching martial arts films or imitating them. In many ways he was reminiscent of LL Cool J’s character Ronny in the previous movie, which might be saying a lot as far as the writers go. As several of the students studied psychology, I enjoyed the various references and parallels throughout the film to ideas such as Jung’s ‘shadow’ – or should we say Shape?
Speaking of the Shape, I liked Michael in this movie. His actions were rigid, but he was swift, which is how I think he should be. Some actors portrayed him as too human in action and movement, but I think it this film he’s about right. The mask honestly isn’t even that bad, except that we can clearly see the black make up around Michael’s eyes (Michael, you shouldn’t have) because the eye holes are too big. Otherwise he is a good height and size, and the mask never looks wide or stupid. However, after 7 films these people still haven’t learned what camera height to use when showing us Michael’s point of view – uh, no, pretty sure his eye level isn’t only a foot above the doorknobs at the sanitarium. This movie had Michael bring back the classic head cock, which makes the killer both childish and animalistic at the same time, as well as the big kitchen knife, and the ever-popular skull-crush-under-his-bare-hands move.
I was worried at first when the 6 internet reality show members kept finding strange evidence and artifacts around the house, such as the highchair with chains or the harness in the basement cellar. It seemed like the filmmakers were trying too hard to show that Michael had an abusive childhood or that he was just as dangerous as a baby as he was when he was 6 – neither of which should necessarily be true. Luckily we find out that these are all props planted by Freddie, Nora, and crew to frighten the ‘contestants’ more.
Loved the hip technology in this movie, really made me feel connected as a modern audience member, especially Sara’s PalmPilot contraption. So I’m just kidding, but it does add a lot of suspense that Myles/ Deckard can help Sara in certain rooms of the house and that a live audience is watching the terror take place (a la Untraceable). As this time period really was the beginning of the cell phone, etc revolution among children and teenagers, it reminds us that most plots of previous horror films could never happen anymore when 911, friends and family, maps, and the internet are constantly on hand.
Similarly, the technology in this movie makes a comment on exploitation as the ‘contestants’ are constantly reminded that this one night in the Meyers house could be their big break for internet or acting stardom. Several male characters in the film use this ploy to try and seduce or harass the female characters into performing scandalous or sexual acts. Chauvinism in horror? Shocking.
I generally liked the cinematography of this movie which is as dark as ever, literally. The contrasts in this film help spook us out since Michael is usually so hard to spot, and by the time we see his white mask coming out of some darkness it is too late. The many ‘camera’ shots are so Blair Witch it’s hard to handle without getting nauseated. The major use of flashlights in this movie is fun, and countless times we find a character in a dark room quickly passing over Michael’s face with their light.
At the end of the day, although this film might feel distanced from its tremendous beginnings, I like that it brings things full circle. Laurie and Michael get their closure, and as the tagline very aptly states, ‘evil finds its way home.’ The very first film started here, and following that point (even in the Jamie Lloyd series of sequels) Michael was always out of his house. Now at long last the action is back in the birthplace of the evil that has been haunting Halloweens since 1963/ 1978. Much could be said about the home and the womb, birth and death here… but I’m not going to say it.
Final critique: What we have here is a modern slasher that happens to be continuing action first started in 1978. While this movie isn’t your most standard Halloween film, it does make many homages to the originals and to Halloween H20. I do recommend this film to anybody looking for a fun and still frightening/ suspenseful slasher film that is very typical of its time period.