1 out of 5
Directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard
I truly don’t think we ask much of our horror franchise entries once we’re past the initial two entries. Maybe some wrinkle on the concept to justify our attentions for a sequel; some fan-appreciation winking via music cues or particular shots; some inventive kills. We’re a seasoned crew; we know not to expect some genius reinvention of a formula.
True, by Halloween 5, it may still have been new to franchising in a way, after the underwhelming reception of 3 required a course correction for 4, meaning that 5 was really the first opportunity to prove the movies could be a continuing shtick, but it’s still ridiculous how far things devolved from the previous entry to ‘Revenge,’ and it’s sadder in that it’s not like it just botched one or two pieces: the dip in quality is apparent from the start.
We sorta / kinda pick up right after 4’s ending, except we’re sorta / kinda a year later, and Jamie (Danielle Harris) is now in a kid’s hospital, hooked up to machines and having non-stop nightmares, and then we’re sorta / kinda watching her have a psychic connection with Michael as he clambers off from 4’s ending and rehabs, I guess, between then and now, in a muddle of filmmaking that can’t make up its mind if any time has actually passed at all. That Jamie is also in hospital is, I guess, logical, but it’s also one of the most unimaginative ways to continue her story. It’s akin to a cliffhanger with a character’s death, only for the followup to shrug and say, “guess it was only a a flesh wound,” or some such. The remainder of the movie falls in to the usual structure – Mike starts killing his way toward Jamie; cops buzz around useleslly; Loomis (Donald Pleasance) shows up and spouts crazy shit – but there’s so much missing here to make that even moderately entertaining, as we seem to be guided by a director (Dominique Othenin-Girard) who, with editors Charles Tetoni and Jerry Brady, pieces together a flick that sniffs of a “we’re above this genre” mentality, while barely offering any other suggestions of that actually being the case. Halloween 5 is a movie that doesn’t want to be a horror movie, but can’t make the effort to be anything else, either.
There are spots of inspiration – some camera tracking that’s momentarily exciting; an admittedly inspired and tense bit with a laundry chute; and Loomis is batshit in this one, with total disregard for anything except killing Michael – but it’s backed up and surrounded with abortive attempts at self awareness (e.g. the doofy cops who say, out loud, “we’re not very good cops”) and the first iteration of Myers to offer any sense of menace or personality ‘neath the mask. He’s literally just a shape this time around, and might as well be carrying a rubber knife (which it seems to be any way, in poorly cut shots that let his stabbings stay in frame for too long).
The saving grace, if there is one, is Danielle Harris. What a find she was, as I can hardly think of any adult actors who are able to maintain the level of terror and franticness she portrays throughout the entire movie, while also being believable when she steps up and fights back. She’s never once been annoying on screen, nor betrays any of the forced emotiveness kid actors often have to use.