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Brennan Went to Film School: In Defense of HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION

“Brennan Went to Film School” is a column that proves that horror has just as much to say about the world as your average Oscar nominee. Probably more, if we’re being honest.

Halloween: Resurrection. 2002. Busta Rhymes. Tyra Banks. Jamie Lee Curtis (for one scene). It’s maybe not the most maligned sequel in the Halloween franchise, but it’s certainly in the top three. And let’s be honest, it’s not – y’know – great. But there’s a good reason I don’t skip it during my franchise marathons: like all the best crappy horror movie sequels, it captures time in a bottle.

A lot of film scholars will argue that the best examples of the form are those that are timeless; stories you can watch without being distracted by odd slang, chunky outdated cell phones, or no-longer trendy filmmaking techniques. It’s probably true that these are the ones that appeal to the broadest modern audiences, but there’s something magical about movies that attempt to exactly put their finger on the pulse of the minute they came out.

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These movies are time capsules that you can put on and immediately be transported into decades past, like a 90-minute Buzzfeed quiz. And there’s hardly anywhere better to find these than the later entries in any horror franchise. The filmmakers have already run out of ideas for the killer/monster/abstract concept of evil to slice and dice teenagers, so they lean heavily on the trendiest, most aggressively pandering gimmicks available to them. Their attempt to drag teens headlong into theaters is what gives them their transportive, intoxicatingly timely quality.

Just look at the soundtrack to 1988’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, which features Dramarama no fewer than two times. Or 1998’s Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, where the creepy corn cult kids are decked out in overalls and choppy bangs with frosted tips. Or MTV’s Scream TV series, which started in 2015 and is chockablock with animated GIFs, true crime podcasts, and things going immediately viral.

Halloween: Resurrection is one of the best of these time capsules. I’m always particularly taken with early 2000’s filmmaking in the time when the Internet was shiny and new, and people had no idea what exactly it was or how far it would permeate the culture. The entire premise of Dangertainment – a live-streaming web series about sexy teens exploring the Myers house – is somehow both prescient and hilariously outdated, and the quality of the webcams they use is truly laughable.

However, beyond the basic premise, Resurrection is a top-to-bottom exercise in attempting to rip from the headlines of TigerBeat magazine. It’s like they dipped the movie in chocolate and rolled it around to glue every crumb of 2002 they possibly could get onto it. From the soundtrack (Girl Eats Boy! Braingarden!) to the dialogue (the post-post-Scream meta-ish script includes the beautiful gem “Michael Myers is killer shark with baggy-ass overalls.”) to the cameos (hello! Busta Rhymes!) and even the costumes at the Halloween party (Pulp Fiction was still a “fresh” idea), the movie revels in its own trendiness at the expense of pretty much everything else.

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Remember I’m not arguing that one should watch this movie because it’s particularly scary or masterpiece-level filmmaking. What it is is a romp through all the best and worst (mostly worst) that the turn of the millennium had to offer. It’s a transmission from a distant age where the trends are completely alien to our own. It’s a research document of the things that filmmakers thought modern teens would get really excited about seeing in a movie. If that doesn’t interest you, then so be it. But if we can’t laugh at and enjoy the mistakes and fads of the past, then what the hell are yearbooks for?

Halloween: Resurrection is definitely the yearbook of pre-Saw 2000’s horror cinema, and I enjoy every minute of it because of that. To repeat, I’m not saying that it’ll bowl you over with its incisive psychological commentary or sheer atmosphere. But taking on a more humorously nostalgic perspective might just be the thing to get you through the back half of your Halloween marathon this year.

Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror franchises from tip to tail! He also produces the LGBTQ horror podcast Attack of the Queerwolf! on the Blumhouse Podcast Network.

Written by Brennan Klein

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