24 April 2004 | mentalcritic
Still out of ideas, Hollywood?
If there is one thing that can be counted upon in Hollywood, it is the sequel. As long as the film either makes a profit, however small, or is enough of a tax write-off to keep the producers afloat, the sequels will keep on a-coming. In some cases, such as X-Men 2 or Aliens, this is a good thing. However, they are a small minority that prove the rule, regardless of their excellence in themselves.
Horror franchises are the worst offenders in this regard. It's not so surprising when you consider that horror is a difficult genre to make work, and that no writer wants to be associated with a horror film that fell flat (what's the writer of Halloween III up to lately?). There are, of course, only so many different ways one can kill people before it becomes blasé, so to speak. But, as recent films like Ringu or its American equivalent have shown, Hollywood can get significantly more original with its horror than it has tried for most of the last twenty years.
The original Halloween, much like the original A Nightmare On Elm Street or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was a novel concept that brought something new to the genre. In the case of Halloween, that something new was a silent killer who at times seemed more sane than his doctor. Of course, it also helped blow the number of murders committed by the mentally ill way out of proportion in the mind of the public, but it also exploits the fact that the extremely mentally ill are much more creative (Ed Gein, for example).
The Halloween "franchise" should never have made it past the second episode. Where the first episode spent time creating an atmosphere and set up characters one cared about, the second episode could be summed up with "hey, bimbo, try power-walking, he'll never catch you that way". The worst part is that every episode since could be summed up in exactly the same manner. The fifth film made an abortive attempt to restore this tension, but failed.
Fast forward to film number eight, and the best idea that the writers can come up with is sticking a mob of dopey twenty-somethings into the Myers house as part of a reality TV show. Not only is this a creative vacuum, it also opens up a million plot holes. For one thing, if the street that the Myers house is located on is still part of a residental zone, one has to wonder why the house hasn't simply been torn down and either had another house built on it, or been replaced by a small park. Another big plot problem is the stupidity of the cast. A murderer taking so long to dispose of a body, dragging a video camera all the while, is just begging to be caught.
There's also a big problem with cinematography. One would have thought that if the idea of resolutions lower than 35mm film in theatres hadn't been firmly killed by cinematic turds like Blair Christian Project, it certainly has been buried by the likes of Baise-Moi or Attack Of The Clones. A signifcant portion of the film is seen through the eyes of web cameras, however, and the abrupt transitions between the formats do not make for a pleasant viewing experience.
This is to say nothing of the fact that in spite of trying to make the film more "now" (did I mention the poorly-research pop-psychology subtexts?), the plot essentially boils down to "Michael Myers shows up in Haddonfield, kills a bunch of random strangers, someone 'kills' him, the end". Not exactly what I would call even slightly creative. Compare this with Ringu's ending, and it is easy to see why American horror films are so derided, even in their country of origin.
I am not surprised in the slightest that the rating for this film is 4.4 out of ten. As I sit and watch it now, I don't think of how creative or interesting the story is, as I did with parts one and three. I think to myself something along the lines of "Can't the Akkads do something creative for a change?". I think that, in essence, summarises every frame of the film.