Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers Movie Review

My familiarity with the Halloween series was always less than Friday the 13th and Nightmare because I found these films much scarier. I was even less familiar with this particular sequel and found watching it again that I remembered little of it in detail.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

You don’t expect any horror movie sequel to be better in any real measurable way than its predecessor. Sure, I feel that Friday the 13th Part VII: The NewBlood is the best in the series, but that’s splitting hairs. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers breaks the rule by being a noticeable improvement over Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Interestingly, the main characters and the story are not all that dissimilar. The differences are all in Dominique Othenin-Girard’s direction.

It’s now one year after Michael tried to kill little Jamie Lloyd in the last movie, which, if my math is correct, makes it eleven years after Halloween and Halloween II and 26 years after little Michael first killed his sister. When we last saw him, he was shot multiple times and fell down a mine shaft. Now we discover how he escaped and has been awaiting his moment in the home of some strange hermit. Jamie (still played by Danielle Harris) is now mute after the trauma of the last film. SPOILER FOR PART 4: She has no memory of stabbing her foster mother with a pair of scissors. Now she’s living in a children’s clinic where she suffers from the occasional Michael nightmare or psychic connection with his actions. Then he returns to Haddonfield to finish his job.

There’s not all that much interesting going on except maybe that Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, stretching his career to the breaking point) is now the most lunatic character in the series. Otherwise, Michael comes, he hides, he kills, he repeats. But this film, for the first time since the first in the series, creates truly unsettling scenes and moments of real terror. Cinematographer Robert Draper’s camera continues to float in and out of point of view shots and almost always suggests Michael’s presence somewhere. There’s one especially creepy scene between two girls in a day-lit park. As the camera shifts around, we can make out Michael clearly in the background moving in and out of the trees, watching, observing and waiting. It’s a shocking reversal of the standard point of view shot so common in slasher movies. And suddenly we become aware of ourselves as voyeurs. They create more suspense in the daytime than one would reasonably believe possible for a horror movie. Othenin-Girard simply has a much better innate sense for how to build suspense in a scene than so many other horror directors.

That said, what’s good about Halloween 5 is almost purely a result of direction and much less a result of the screenplay by Othenin-Girard, Michael Jacobs and Shem Bitterman. The connection between Jamie and Michael moves things in the direction of cheesy made for TV material. And they introduce (or rather don’t introduce) a character dressed all in black whose boot-clad feet are shown to reveal his presence in town or in the Myers house, We never see his face, he doesn’t speak, and his wrist bears the same tattooed mark that we saw earlier on Michael. He ends up functioning as a deus ex machina in the finalie, a writer’s cheat to create the twist and send the movie hurtling toward its inevitable sequel.

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