Oh, Just Die Already.

October 17, 2008

d. Joe Chappelle 

The downward slide continues with this last entry prior to the H2O reboot. It saddens me to think that this would be one of Donald Pleasance’s last movie and that, if IMDB is correct, his role was further reduced in the editing room because the director found his scenes “boring.” I would think many scenes suffer from over-zealous editing because there is a disjointed feeling from scene to scene. But still, I was immediately struck by how frail Donald Pleasance seemed in the six years since the last film.

Halloween 6 tells the story of Michael Myers’s search for Jamie Lloyd’s daughter who has fallen into Tommy Doyle’s care; parallel to this storyline is the reintroduction of the Strode family, specifically Cara and her son, Danny. For some inexplicable reason, Danny is hearing orders from the Thorn cult, a mysterious organization attempting to locate the baby to sacrifice it to Michael so he can leave Haddonfield the hell alone.

In any case, this movie picks up themes from the last film, specifically the intriguing if misguided attempt to explain Michael Myers’s motivation with the Thorn cult origin. Basically, this cult curses a family to be sacrificed so the village can be blessed; there are some minor parallels in this idea to the far superior (and original) Wicker Man. What’s commendable is the attempt to tie in Halloween’s (the holiday) origins to the contemporary mythology of Michael Myers, however it feels like its in the wrong movie. The cross-breeding of the supernatural with the slasher is not entirely unconventional, it just feels wrong.

There are many missteps this movie takes in spite of strong cinematography and a step up in special effects. First of all, it reintroduces the Strode family. Plus! However they don’t realize that the house they just moved into is the original Myers house (looking more as it once did unlike the gothic fabrication of Halloween 5). How the hell do they not know?!

Another plus is Paul Rudd plays Tommy Doyle, the grown-up version of the kid Laurie Strode babysat in the original film. However, his character is inconsistent and inadvertently gets more laughs than not — and you can tell Paul Rudd can’t quite get the proper handle on his character. Also Jamie Lloyd is back all growed up and has just given birth — hmm, interesting. She is killed within the first act — no surprise here, but what a waste. Are Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street the only franchises to keep its original lead heroine alive past two movies? Oh wait, Scream does as well. And Alien. Whatever, it’s still pretty rare in the slasher genre.

Finally, the Thorn cult is so vague in its conception and execution that their motives are muddied and inconsequential. There is the suggestion that Danny, who can hear their voices, may be susceptible to the same rage as Michael Myers, I think. It’s never fully explained and the mystery isn’t worth investigating. I understand the director and writer were going for a Rosemary’s Baby type cult, but they fail to properly establish them as a presence other than the one Man In Black figure. Even the cult in Hot Fuzz is more dangerous than these fools.

And, unfortunately, the ending suffers from lacking a true final confrontation between Dr. Loomis and Michael, mostly because Donald Pleasance died before completing his scenes. So the last we ever get of the good doctor is an off-screen scream that implies his death at the hands of The Shape. That sucks. 

So, some good lighting, some good gory effects, but a lackluster story and the death of Donald Pleasance cast a pall over this film. One star.

Hopefully things pick up with the franchise reboot, Halloween: 20 Years Later, or the rather silly abbreviated H2O.

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