‘Halloween 5’ and The Tragedy in the Potential of Bad Movies

Oh, Halloween. What a strange franchise you are. How simultaneously baffling and amusing is your lack of continuity, how bizarrely inspiring is your producers’ drive to keep putting out more and more installments despite getting less and less success. Following its mostly successful return last year, and realizing my knowledge of the series outside of the 2018 sequel was actually limited to Carpenter’s original, I decided to take a look at what came in the span of the fourty years of Michael Myers I had missed. After enjoying Halloween 2 and unexpectedly loving Season of the Witch, I found myself a bit bored in the fourth installment and decided to take a break. However, the Shape always returns: and indeed, the break ends today as I dive into the strange world of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.

And a strange one it is indeed. Taking place directly after the events of Halloween 4, we find again young Jamie Lloyd as the main character. Rendered mute and clearly very disturbed by her first encounter with her uncle, she is a protagonist that instills sympathy as soon as we see her (it does help that Danielle Harris is one of the most competent actors of the film). In fact, the first thirty minutes of the film do something that few of these sequels do: they make sense. For a second, Jamie is not a final girl — she’s also allowed to be just a girl, and one that has been through a lot.

While watching the events that we see unfolding after Myers’ first apparition, one could realistically think that the film is a product of Jamie’s recently but deeply troubled mind. We are now exactly one year after the events that traumatized her took place— it would be expected of her to have a harder time than usual dealing with her PTSD syndromes. At first, the film seems to take risks. In the last film, Rachel, Jamie’s step sister, was a major character, but this time around, she’s the first to die in a rather boring fashion as far as slashers go. Getting rid of one of the most sympathetic characters of the Jamie arc of the saga is a bold choice narratively, and one that makes sense if we take it from the perspective of the nightmare of a little girl: it makes perfect sense that the most evil person she knows would come for the person she cares for the most before anyone else.

A lot of other seemingly ridiculous elements also start to make sense once we admit we’re simply in Jamie’s head on a particularly bad day. The teenage characters constantly acting in ways no teenager has ever acted makes sense when they are simply constructions of an immature mind (didn’t teenagers also seem like irrational, kind of crazy, weirdoes when you were that age ?). Dr Loomis’ perplexing bullying of Jamie is most likely exaggerated through her eyes. As for the complete lack of continuity in the plot ? The random kittens ? The supremely dumb cops ? Once again, it’d make sense if it was a delusion of a traumatized child going through an anniversary she never wanted to celebrate.

The film is entertaining enough at first, and as the pieces clicked together, I started to want so badly to find an exploration of trauma underneath all the apparent ridiculousness. The interpretation I had put together didn’t seem that outlandish. After all, Michael had been shot multiple times and struck with dynamite — maybe this time he could be dead for good. Of course, Halloween is not a franchise built on logic or continuity (in fact, as of Halloween 2018, the events of Revenge never even happened), but if the film let me, I was ready to find something deeper in it. I didn’t want Harris’ performance to go to waste, I didn’t want the surprise of seeing one of the main characters die in the first twenty minutes of the film be just one bold choice in a sea of conventions.

As the runtime goes on, unfortunately, even the most tenacious of bad horror movie lover would start to get worn out. I was dying for the film to be secretly smarter than it was, but in the end, what was interesting at first becomes quickly exhausting instead. The ugly truth that I didn’t want to embrace at first is that the continuity is all over the place because of lazy writing, Loomis sounds insane because of a subpar performance, and that if I hadn’t been scared once since the beginning of the film, it wasn’t because this was a horror film out of the imagination of a little girl, but rather out of grown men desperate to make a profit out of a dying franchise. We leave the film neither impressed nor scared, but rather deeply disinterested. Serial killing has never been so boring.

In the end, Halloween 5 is just what it is: a bad movie in what I expect will be a series of bad (possibly even worse) movies. It is probably my mistake that I thought it could be more, but I can’t help but be disappointed, especially now knowing that the rest of my completionist quest will most likely be made of boredom and bad acting rather than thrills and terror. The film doesn’t even make its way into the fun-bad movie category, as it plays everything desperately safe instead of embracing the over the top quality that can make senselessness so diverting. Let’s hope the next installments make me a little less tired of Myers — but even as the one typing this, I know I’m most likely fooling myself once more.

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