Note: this review contains SPOILERS.
“This is not good. This is not good at all. I mean, you rounded up a bunch of airheads, first of all, that’ll just be running around here, talking a bunch of shit… This is bad. This is bad.” --- Busta Rhymes, referring simultaneously to the coeds in the film, as well as the filmmakers.
Just plain impossible
After his tumble from the second story banister in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998), Michael Myers crushes the throat of the attending paramedic and assumes his identity, and it’s that poor unconscious schnook who’s ultimately beheaded by Laurie Strode at the film’s end.
As an explanation on paper, it almost works (the paramedic’s voice box was crushed, which explains his silence in the van ride), but let’s get serious: if you woke up and found yourself trapped in a body bag, wouldn’t you at some point take off the mask and try to communicate with the crazy lady (Laurie Strode) at the steering wheel of an out-of-control maxi-van? And if you were wedged between the van and a large branch, wouldn’t you maybe then take off the mask with your flailing arms to stop the crazy lady from chopping off your head?
The final reel of Part 7 is acted and edited with crystal clarity, and with dead solid assurance, that Laurie knows she has the right Michael at her mercy, and that’s why she takes the axe and gives her brother one big whack to the neck, but just like Part 5, where Dr. Loomis clearly dies, executive producers Malek and Moustapha Akkad ignored the reality established at the end of the film, and made up some mumbo jumbo to justify the very existence of a new sequel.
Part 8 may have been attractive to director Rick Rosenthal because it added popular digital culture – the internet and various communications toys – to the slasher mix, but he failed to recognize he was saddled with a truly awful script. At one point a character defends himself against his knife-wielding, superhuman aggressor with 40 year-old fennel seeds from the Myers kitchen spice rack – no joke – before Michael impales the wannabe chef onto the kitchen door.
The premise by screenwriters Larry Brand and Sean Hood (Masters of Horror: Sick Girl) has six very dumb university coeds selected by the producers at “Dangertainment” to appear in an internet reality show where they have to spend a night at the Myers home and attempt to find clues the police and serial killer fans didn’t respectively confiscate and pick off as souvenirs over a thirty year period.
The impossible goal: presumably using material gleaned from their Psych 101 classes, while poking around the structurally unsound Myers homestead, the six twits must explain to viewers how Michael became a serial killer.
The end result: because reality show producers Freddie (Busta Rhymes) and Nora (Tyra Banks, cast prior to her own grating reality/talk show) have cast their show with deliberately moronic contestants, it also ensures we the audience cannot possible like any of them, either.
To combat the lameness of watching the show’s producers watching their six contestants walk around the house via very dirty video feeds, the screenwriters added a subplot of Myles, a teen who mostly sits in front of a computer monitor and text messages Sara (Bianca Kajlich), the film’s heroine, phrases like “HE’S IN THE HOUSE!” in BIG FONTS to help her steer clear of Michael in the final stalk-and-slash sequence.
These are not convincing elements, and neither is the sometimes incredible sloppiness of director Rosenthal, who failed to address some glaring continuity gaffes.
The first blunder occurs in the pre-credit sequence where Michael hands over his bloody knife to an inmate at the hospital where guilt-ridden Laurie’s been kept under lock and key for 3 years. Apparently a dangerous offender is allowed to indulge in a fascination with serial killers, because the inmate’s room is filled with serial killer apocrypha, including a clothes rack where masks and ‘killer’ costumes hang from metal coat hangers. Easily pliable metal coat hangers.
Additionally, the contestants’ remote headgear is supposed to transmit video and sound, but Rosenthal conveniently forgets about the contestants’ microphones until the last reel, when Sara removes her headgear and speaks into the mic in the hope Myles hears her. If the sound was always working, why didn’t anyone (particularly the show’s producers) hear the death moans and screams of their precious contestants?
The DVD’s deleted scene gallery contains a few of several unused scenes and extensions dropped from the film because they were banal, and there’s also three alternate endings that take place during or after a street-side police and ambulance roundup: a) while playing dead in a half-open body-bag, Michael reawakens and attempts to kill Freddie, but is axed in the head by Sara; b) Myles somehow rushes from a university party, finds the Myers house, and incredibly saves Sara from the burning Myers home instead of Freddie; c) and as retained in the film’s final edit, Freddie saves Sara from the burning house, and Michael’s body is wheeled into a coroner’s examination room, where Michael reawakens and goes for the doctor.
One half-jokingly assumes Rosenthal was lured to helm Part 8 because someone showed him Jamie Lee Curtis’ deal memo and cancelled cheque (unofficially called the ‘But-Jamie’s-doing-it’ ploy), but his commentary track makes it clear he genuinely felt the script was sound, so when Part 8 is placed alongside Part 2, his first directorial venture, any doubt one had of Rosenthal being a workmanlike director is gone; this is a poorly and sloppily directed film populated by ‘airheads,’ and one suspects the only reason Jamie Lee Curtis agreed to reappear in the film was as a favour to Rosenthal, and to play out her character’s death, thereby ensuring Laurie Strode as well as Curtis were free from any further Halloween appearances.
For Curtis, it was a smart move, but for the franchise, it seems (as of this writing) Rosenthal’s film reaffirmed, at least for the time being, that there are no more stories to be told. Michael Myers will always be on the loose, and the only victims screenwriters can toss under his knife are dunderheads.
The irony? Part 8’s final reel leaves the door wide open for an easy sequel where nothing needs to be explained beyond ‘Michael got away,’ but instead of going forward again, the franchise godfathers decided to go backwards, and let Rob Zombie apply his hillbilly sleaze style to Michael Myers’s formative years before re-treading the same ground of Part 1.
Films in the Halloween franchise include Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween V (1989), Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), the seventh part, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998), the eighth part, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), and Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007).
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan