After taking a first big and unsuccessful risk in Season of the Witch, the Halloween franchise had decided to play things relatively safely in its fourth and fifth installments. This may have been enough to renew financial success, but not in gaining back the affection of the die hard horror fans who loved Carpenter’s groundbreaking film. After all, the late 80s were already full of good, way crazier slasher films — why would they be impressed by any of this ? Something was definitely missing from the once beloved franchise. The saga took its biggest break to date — and six years later, it had figured something out.
Curse of Michael Myers is bonkers. As in, absolutely crazy. It builds on the weirdest part of the series’ mythology, fully embracing the supernatural aspects that had only been hinted at previously. Myers loses any trace of humanity he had left in him (he can now decapitate people with one hand, for fuck’s sake!). There’s cults, incest, weirdly overlooked voyeurism, gore, the youngest form of Paul Rudd in cinematic history, the questionable choice of naming an infant Steven, unbelievable plot holes and plot twists about characters everyone had forgotten about. It’s absolutely ridiculous — and that’s exactly why it works.
The franchise finally allows itself to be on the same level of insanity as its main antagonist — and it feels oh so good. While the film has been subject to controversies due to its multiple versions, chaotic production history, and refusal from Danielle Harris to return as Jamie because of disagreements over the script and her salary, it has now gained a bit of a cult following. Chappelle’s take is decidedly darker than anything the franchise has put out in years, and the film makes it clear from the very first minutes. We open on Jamie, but since the series seems to enjoy getting rid of its protagonists, we don’t stay with her for a long time. Her death sets the tone for the rest of the film: it’s gorier, bloodier, more affecting too (this poor girl has spent her entire life being bullied, then had her entire family killed, was forcibly impregnated — possibly by her uncle/the one who murdered her family —, had to abandon her baby and then just died. Even if she is just a shitty horror sequel protagonist, it is pretty damn tragic). We leave her, but she has left enough behind her to kickstart the plot.
From there on, it only gets crazier and crazier. Our new protagonist is Kara Strode, Laurie’s cousin who had to go back to living with her parents after a teenage pregnancy. What none of them know except their abusive, greedy father is that they’re currently living in the Myers’ house. Seems a bit hard to believe considering that they, you know, interact with people on a daily basis, but as far as set-ups go, this is fine. Michael needs a reason to come for them first, and that’s as good as they come. Plus, setting up the father of the family as a physically and emotionally abusive character already promises that not all the deaths will be painful to watch.
As for the other characters, Tommy Doyle, the boy that Laurie was babysitting in the first Halloween, returns as a fully grown Paul Rudd. Even as part of such an insane film, his performance remains one of the strangest things you will see. It’s not even that it’s bad — he just keeps trying to evoke emotions that don’t even exist. At some point, he switches from creepy neighbor who watches Kara at night in her bedroom from ideal father figure and we’re not even supposed to question it. Similarly, Loomis goes from child bully in the last film to funky old grandpa in this one. It’s so ridiculous it’s hard not to love.
The film’s charm is also clearly helped by its visual qualities. This is the first Halloween film in a long time to really look good. Sure, it rips off shamelessly the look of other late 80s-early 90s slashers but at this stage, who wasn’t ? The blood looks redder, some shots are surprisingly effective, and this time around the deaths don’t stop at stabbing. Myers is more violent than ever, and it makes for a very entertaining watch.
The relatively short runtime (less than 90 minutes) makes the whole experience happen as if in a flash, even a haze. There’s no point pretending any of this makes sense, but in its own strange way, it makes it all the more loveable. Curse marks the end of the Jamie arc of the saga and it makes for a better conclusion than anything we could have imagined. Helped by surprisingly good special effects and cinematography, and if not always good at least entertaining (yes, I’m still talking about Paul Rudd. Really wonder what he thinks of this movie now) performances, it manages to be charming in the weirdest of way. Obviously, it’s no horror masterpiece — but at this point, it’s not pretending to be. You’ll laugh more often than shiver, but there’s no doubt that you’ll be entertained throughout.
Next stop: H20!
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