Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) - Review

After the failure of Halloween 3, studios decided that most horror audiences were only interested in seeing Michael Myers, and decided to start just churning out endless sequels with Myers in them to keep everyone satisfied.  Oddly enough though, this doesn't actually feel like an unnecessary sequel.  It is.  It totally is; Jamie Lee Curtis is long gone and this doesn't really delve further into the mythos of Michael Myers or his motivations, or anything like that.  But somehow it still feels like a worth sequel, mostly due to good acting and some actual decent characters.

Since Curtis left after Halloween 2, they had to introduce a character to take her place as the focus of the film.  Donald Pleasence is inexplicably back as Dr. Loomis despite being pretty clearly blown up in Halloween 2, but he's great as always.  Also joining the roster is Rachel Carruthers and her adopted sister Jamie Lloyd, daughter of the now dead Laurie Strode.  These are the two that really make the movie work, aside from Pleasence; Danielle Harris, who plays Jamie Lloyd, is especially good for a child actor.

The movie sort of reminds me of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 in the sense that it's a little cheesier than the original and there are definitely some odd moments, but I can't help but really enjoy it because of the cast.  And there are a couple of really goofy things here, mostly notably a girl getting stabbed by Michael with a shotgun.  Yes.  Stabbed with a shotgun.  Michael just seems to be kind of magic by this point, and it really renders him unfrightening.  But this movie isn't scary (despite a couple of really effective jump scares towards the beginning), it's just a fun romp.

Overall, I'd say it's one of the strongest entries thus far.  It definitely lacks the atmosphere of the first two and the zany kookiness of Halloween 3, but it's just so solid on all fronts.  The direction is good, the pacing's stellar, and it all works really well.  And sure, there are occasionally some silly moments like the ending, but those moments just make the whole thing more endearing.  It's a really well-done sequel, thanks to some good acting and strong lead characters; much better than a third sequel to a horror franchise should be.

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