Once upon a time, horror films truly were scary and some - such as "Carrie" - offered quite a shocking, climactic jolt. Nowadays, and notwithstanding foreign, art house and the occasional Hollywood offering in the genre, the scariest thing about the endings of many such offerings is that they hint at, suggest or outright state that a sequel will probably be in the works.
Such is the case with "Halloween: Resurrection," the 8th offering in the long-running series that began back with John Carpenter's now classic 1978 film and now seems destined for at least a ninth installment unless the cinematic box office gods finally say enough is enough.
Like the films' omnipresent energizer killer, the sequels won't die and instead keep coming back to deliver more slasher mayhem. The last such offering was 1998's "Halloween: H20." In it, the masked serial killer was decapitated, but any fan of such films knows that's not enough to keep a good boogeyman down.
Nor does it hamper filmmakers who keep coming up with "clever" ways to resurrect the dead. In this case, director Rick Rosenthal ("Halloween II," "Russkies") and screenwriters Larry Brand ("The Right Temptation," "Paranoia") and Sean Hood ("The Shy and the Naked") haven't used a religious miracle or supernatural spell to do the trick. Rather, they've simply re-written the end of the last film - how convenient - and made some poor sap be the one who lost his head.
In the latest "How can we trap young people with the killer" query, the filmmakers have gone the "reality show" route, but ended up missing the boat. Beyond unsuccessfully trying to emulate what made parts of "The Blair Witch Project" so good - namely the you are there, point of view camera work - the reality bit seem so passť nowadays, even if "The Osbournes" - who are briefly referenced in passing along with "Survivor" - are still on the public radar scope.
Although I'm not exactly sure how far anyone could have successfully taken the live Internet broadcast bit - which also reeks of ripping off MTV's "Fear" show where camera-equipped suckers go into haunted houses and the like - it simply doesn't offer much of anything new or notable here.
Instead, we're treated to all of the usual slasher staples, including but not limited to cat and mouse moments, jump scenes, randy young people and some nudity, one smart talking, kick butt hero, the damsel in distress and lots of death and blood.
At least the last "Friday the 13th" installment tried to do something different with its futuristic space setting (albeit ultimately unsuccessfully). Here we simply get more of the same old, same old, with the worst part being that none of it's particularly scary or even suspenseful.
Part of that lies with the fact that we've seen this sort of story and material done so many times by now that there are no scares or suspense to be had. Then there's the way in which the filmmakers have conceived and murdered - excuse me - executed the plot. Granted, there's only so much one can do with the material once the players are in place, but Rosenthal and company do little to make the material sizzle.
The biggest problem, as has been the case since Episode 2 as well as the sequels to "Friday the 13th" is that the unstoppable, faceless and mute boogeyman simply isn't scary. Although the credits state that Brad Loree ("Texas Rangers," "Timecop") is the man behind the mask, it could be Barney the purple dinosaur as far as we know. (That's a thought - instead of slicing and dicing people with a large knife, a healthy - or is it unhealthy - dose of "I love you. You love me" could kill all of the victims in one batch)
As far as the victims go, we have just another bunch of unmemorable performers playing forgettable characters and unsympathetic characters that are simply in place to take their turn through the meat grinder. For what it's worth, Bianca Kajlich ("Bring It On," TV's "Boston Public") plays the lead victim, while model-turned actress Tyra Banks ("Coyote Ugly," "Love & Basketball") is present to, well, look pretty, and isn't given the chance to do much more.
Busta Rhymes ("Finding Forrester," "Shaft") shows up as that smart-talking, butt-kicking entrepreneur and is rather bad in the role, while Ryan Merriman ("The Deep End of the Ocean," "Just Looking") is stuck in something of a weak and modified "Rear Window" type subplot that doesn't do as much for the film as it might have had some imagination been applied.
Then there's Jamie Lee Curtis ("The Tailor of Panama," "True Lies") who looks like she might finally be through with the series after four appearances. Considering that death has never stopped the purveyors of such trash, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see her and her original character appear again, particularly if a big enough payday is dangled before her (which, along with a shortage of decent roles for middle-aged women, must be the only reason she's started making these pictures again).
Rather boring despite its brief running time and wasting what little potential was offered with the plot setup, the film exists solely for financial rather than any sort of creative reasons. While this is neither the first nor last time that will be the case, it is time to hang, gun down or lop off the head of this ugly cinematic series once and for all. "Halloween: Resurrection" rates as just a 2 out of 10.