With the poor box office performance of H3, the producers decided to go back to the well, and brought back Michael Meyers and Dr. Loomis. Carpenter and Hill signed away their interest in the Halloween series, and it fell to Mousatapha Akkad to destroy the franchise. Prior to that, Carpenter and Hill had commissioned a script from legendary writer Dennis Etchison, but Akkad found it too cerebral. That will probably be the only time you’ll hear Halloween and cerebral in the same sentence. Script duties went to newcomer Alan B. McElroy, and he did a pretty decent job for his first produced screenplay (he would later go on to write all 6 of the Wrong Turn movies-make of that what you will). MM’s behavior changed a bit with 4, killing more indiscriminately, and in some creative ways. Some ridiculous ways as well, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
Dwight Little takes over directing duties, and in his senior effort does a decent job. I confess I hadn’t seen H4, or if I did, don’t remember doing so, but I was pleasantly surprised by it for the most part. Little breaks with tradition a bit and instead of a static image through the credits, he frames them against various landscapes that really invoke the season. I really liked that, and it sets the tone somewhat for what follows.
It’s 10 years later and MM is going to be transferred to another hospital. This raises the question of whose idea it was to make him mobile on Halloween. He’s hidden away deep in the bowels of the sanitarium, and despite having had a decade go by, his face was still bandaged as if he’d just been plucked from the fire. Loomis too also makes it out, and as we see in a bit, he’s had his face scarred and now has a limp. He’s also just as crazy as ever, though fortunately he doesn’t have as much screen time as in the first two.
If you’re guessing that MM hijacks the van, you’d be wrong. He causes it to crash. Loomis and Haddonfield’s new Sheriff go the crash scene, and of course the Doctor is certain MM is still alive. How he manages to get another Sheriff to believe him is beyond me, but at this point , it’s probably just best to go with it. Long story short he ends up back in Haddonfield, searching for Laurie Strode’s daughter. Tragically, Strode survived MM only to be killed in a car accident almost a year earlier. The daughter Jamie now lives with a foster family, and has nightmares about MM (even though she’s never seen him). At one point we see her going through pictures of her mother and it’s a surprisingly emotional and touching scene-something you wouldn’t expect from a slasher flick.
Jamie’s foster sister Rachel is forced to cancel a date that night, and winds up taking Jamie trick or treating. As they approach one house, Rachel sees her boyfriend getting dressed and the girl wearing nothing but a t-shirt. She runs off, but rather than go after her, he goes back in the house to grab her by the…well, you get the idea.
Jamie having walked off while big sis was arguing with her boyfriend, ends up getting lost, and Rachel grows frantic trying to find her. Michael meanwhile, kills everyone at the police station, and a lynch mob of local deplorable rednecks, townies forms to go after MM. The first thing they do when they think they see him is kill an innocent citizen.
Skipping ahead a bit, Rachel and Jamie find one another as Loomis and the Sheriff find them both. They go the Sheriff’s house, who just happens to be the father of the girl Rachel’s boyfriend was banging. Apparently Haddonfield is a very small town. Of course all the convoluted plot to get to this point doesn’t phase MM and he ends up in the house killing the boyfriend, the girl, and two or three Sheriff’s deputies (I forget how many now). The two living girls manage to get out of the house through an attic window, and in an actually pretty tense scene try to flee from MM on the roof of the 3 story house. Jamie climbs down a rose trellis, while Rachel falls off. Miraculously though, she’s unhurt, though she doesn’t come to until after Loomis finds Jamie and takes her to the local school because…where else would you go.
At this point, H4 strains its credibility with what happens. I won’t spoil the ending because it’s pretty cool even if it doesn’t make one bit of sense, but the twist in the last 30 seconds or so is one great big WTF moment. It really made me curious to see how this was going to play out in H5, something I didn’t expect.
Danielle Harris plays 10 year old Jamie, and she does a fantastic job. When you think of child actors, the good ones anyway, you can count them on one hand. Danielle is one of those-in fact I think she outshone everyone else in the film. For me there’s wasn’t one false note in her performance, and while she’s gone on to have an active career, she should be doing a lot more. Ellie Cornell who played the older foster sister is no slouch either, and while I thought her performance was a little more spotty, she’s heads and tails above some of the other Halloween actresses (Jamie Lee Curtis not included).
And then there’s MM. George P. Wilbur is the third actor to play him, and while it’s more the script and direction than his interpretation, he’s not my favorite MM: that honor goes to the original Shape, Nick Castle. There was something in Castle’s mannerisms that I really liked, which I find missing here. MM in the original had a bit of personality, and that’s lost here.
In spite of that, some of the truly idiotic plot devices, I really enjoyed H4, and don’t think it’s nearly as awful as others think it is. Most of the criticism I think is how MM’s behavior changes, and I can understand that, however, for me, it didn’t take away from being entertained, largely due to the talented cast, and minimal screen time for Doctor Loomis. Welcome home Michael.
Tomorrow, I take on the worst of the sequels in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Meyers