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Halloween 5 (1989)
The Halloween franchise had delivered some pretty strong films with four entries under it's belt already, so a fifth chapter should be promising and a natural move. Sadly, the fact of the matter is that Halloween 5 is a major disappointment. While it isn't without some merit (emphasis on some), the entire film is a feature-length missed opportunity of epic proportions. Characters we loved in previous installments are now rendered impossible to connect with, lapses in series continuity are impossible to ignore and the story eventually commits the ultimate cinematic sin: instead of thrilling, it just becomes unbearably boring.
The story picks up with the climactic moments of Halloween 4, as we see Michael fired upon by the state police and driven into a mine shaft that is blown to kingdom come with him inside. Michael slips through the shaft into a creek, eventually landing in the camp of a hapless hobo. The hobo unquestioningly takes in and takes care of Michael, who appears to be back in a coma state of some sort. One year passes and, as Halloween approaches again, Michael unceremoniously kills his caretaker and resumes his hunt for his niece, Jamie Lloyd. In the meantime, Jamie - who is now mute and suffering delusions - is under the watchful eye of Dr. Loomis, who is patiently waiting for Michael's return to claim her. Sure enough, the bodies begin piling up as Michael works his way closer and closer to Jamie through her friends and family. This time, however, Loomis has a plan to draw out Michael and put an end to him once and for all. Meanwhile, a mysterious 'man in black' appears in Haddonfield who bears the same mysterious marking that Michael has on his wrist...
The script — concocted by the team of Michael Jacobs, director Dominique Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman — drops the ball right from the word go. Instead of following the tease at Halloween 4's conclusion where Jamie kills her stepmother and appears to have adopted her uncle's murderous tendencies, the connection between them is now lessened to a half-baked notion of some awkward psychic link stolen right from the pages of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Jamie can now see through Michael's eyes and give hints to Dr. Loomis as to where he is and what he is doing. While this plot point isn't the worst notion ever put into a Halloween film, it is a terrible plot point to start a new story arc from.
The worst part of the overall story is its pacing. We are made to endure long periods of time with boring and unlikeable background characters while the story plods along, never really catching the viewer's attention with enough gusto to make you wonder where things are going. By the film's halfway mark, you start to wonder if it's gong anywhere at all. The kill scenes that sporadically crop up through the proceedings are generic and without suspense or impact, providing no relief from the slow moving plot. By the film's third act, you simply don't care what's going to happen anymore.
The movie is full of things that elicit more laughs than chills or suspense, including a curious scene featuring a ride down a creek that looks more like a bad parody than a serious scene and even a couple of hapless policemen for 'comic relief' that are so out of place within the proceedings that you wonder if they wandered in from a comedy from another era. No, not a funny one, either. Somehow, this all works out to Dr. Loomis exacting a plan to put Michael to rest for good... by using Jamie as bait, dropping a net on him and beating him senseless with a large plank of wood. Sound silly? It is. The idea of putting Jamie in harm's way to draw Michael out and then pummel him with a poorly thought out take on the game mouse-trap is nothing short of ridiculous. Just when you think it can't get any worse, the film's ending is topped off with the now captured Michael sitting in a prison cell - still wearing his trademark mask and overalls. By this point, I wouldn't have been surprised if Michael dusted off an old harmonica and kicked into a rendition of 'Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen'.
Where the ill conceived plotline hurts the film most is in how it affects the main characters. As mentioned above, Dr. Loomis putting Jamie in danger is against his character and makes him seem to be a desperate, immoral whacko - not the eccentric Van Helsing-esque hero we are meant to root for. This is the same character who sacrificed himself to save Laurie Strode in the climax of Halloween 2 and who appears to have completely disconnected from his everyday life to save people from Michael; in short, this is not a character who would put a child in jeopardy. There is no intelligent reason for Loomis to operate in such a heartless and dangerous manner and it seems like utter nonsense when compared to what we know of the character from previous installments. The Loomis character seems to be a little darker and a little crazier by design for this installment, turning the likeable hero we know into a full blown loose cannon that almost doesn't seem trustworthy. Though Donald Pleasence does his best and can not be faulted as a performer, his character has become unlikeable and even his formidable acting chops aren't enough to save the day.
Likewise, with Jamie Lloyd being rendered mute and in a state of post-traumatic shock, Danielle Harris's performance is neutered and impossible to connect to within the story. While her performance in Halloween 4 was endearing and well played, here she spends most of her screen time looking like she's practicing for mime school. When she finally regains her voice, the only scene that plays well for her is a short interaction with Michael where she talks him into removing his mask and appeals to his human side by calling him 'Uncle'. Though I must give credit to the scene for being oddly touching and perhaps the highlight of the film, the previous entries have established Michael as an emotionless killing machine who would never shed a tear or hesitate to kill his prey when given ample time and opportunity. Put simply, it's an illogical idea that undermines the emotional impact of what is possibly her best scene in the film.
As though this isn't enough, the film is littered with bits and pieces of failed logic and continuity issues. One year has passed since the previous entry, yet in Dr. Loomis dialogue Jamie's age is mysteriously advanced two years. When we see the Myers' house, it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the house seen in the previous films and would be more at home in an Abbott and Costello monster spoof than in Haddonfield. Even Michael himself has changed drastically, sporting a droopy, laughable mask and the physique of a gorilla. While I can understand a filmmakers desire to change things up a bit and keep it fresh, the liberties taken in this film just feel like a series of minor missteps in an already bad film. As a comical side-note, in the film's opening the director's own name is misspelled as 'Dominique Otherin-Girard'. Nice work, folks.
There are a couple of positives worth mentioning. The cinematography, courtesy of Robert Draper, is beautiful, menacing and dark. Eschewing the standard blue-lighting used in Halloween and previous sequels, the color scheme here is bathed in deep golds and stark blacks that add a brooding sense of doom to every shot. The result is something that looks and feels fresh and interesting and proves the best part of the film.
The team of Alan Howarth , Tony Lettieri and Barry Levine do a wonderful job of updating and augmenting Carpenter's original themes with modern synths, strings and sound effects that are simultaneously scary, interesting and haunting. For reference, watch the scene where Michael pursues Jamie to and through the rickety, old chute inside the Myers' house - the music adds so much to these scenes that, without it, there would be no real sense of tension or fear for our main character.
Needless to say, Halloween 5 is a missed opportunity and poorly executed film. In good conscience, I cannot even recommend it to a Halloween purist as anything more than a strange curiosity filled with mistakes made in all sizes and forms. There are fan-made Halloween films that are far more entertaining than this lacking 'official' installment. If you have any respect for this film series, avoid this entry... or at least watch it and know that you have been warned.