Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Who On Earth Asked For Halloween: Resurrection? But Why I Love Busta Rhymes' Freddie Harris

This look of confusion and annoyance says it all.
Exhausted and numb from twenty years of booze, pills, and helicopter parenting, Laurie Strode anxiously endured the days leading up to Halloween with her usual edginess. Call her overly cautious, but on October 31, 1998, the menacing figure who gave her a gnarly left upper arm scar from a sharp kitchen knife, by the hands of fate, found her at the private boarding school in northern California where she taught. Once she knew her teenage son was out of harms way, she broke the security entrance sensor, busted an ax out of its casing, and screamed "Michael!" as the music swelled with the orchestral remix of John Carpenter's original score. I get goosebumps every time I watch that scene.

The next overwhelmingly satisfactory moment comes when, bruised and bloody, Laurie by way of a dangerous car stunt is able to trap Michael between the large van and a tree. Saying his name once more, they actually share a tender moment as the tips of their hands briefly connect. Before anyone knew it, Laurie slams that ax on Michael's neck, completely separating his head from his body. That easily was the "Holy sh--, that was awesome!" moment in film of the year. It was the perfect ending to the Halloween set. Laurie Strode was gifted a full arc. Her fight for survival was thorough, intimate, and a demonstration of why Jamie Lee Curtis has a resume that spans most of our lifetimes.


Notably, the franchise is basically split between two major storylines with minor overlap. One being the Laurie Strode trajectory, the other, a pagan cult that centers Michael Myers as some sort of deity? With years of observing fan reception, many prefer Laurie and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) vs. Michael. On August 5, 1998, the Laurie chapter was closed. Both stories, with exceptions of some loose ends depending on where your nerdom lies, were pretty much over. But with an already established pop culture property that released its seventh film during the massive wave of the Scream effect, enough money was made during Halloween: H20's theatrical run that got the gears in Miramax's head turning. First, a sequel without Michael Myers but quickly remembering how that initially didn't work the first time (1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch). The sub-title, Resurrection was stamped after deciding to bring Michael Myers back to this sequel producers Malek and Moustapha Akkad were determined to make. Adding to this Hollywood magic trick was the resurgence of Laurie Strode, who apparently hadn't been tormented enough.

My blood boiled at the hospital nurse's exposition of why Laurie, now a shell of herself sat silently in a room, analogous to her glimpse of her brother in Halloween II. Just like we are to buy Michael being an excellent driver without any proof he's ever been behind the wheel of a vehicle, we're given Michael's clever costume switch and his debilitating infliction on a paramedic by way of a crushed larynx. This didn't allow him to let Laurie in on the surprise when she beheads the wrong guy in the woods. Resurrection I guess needed this premise to conclude and already concluded story. H20 was both cathartic for Laurie and the fans. Even those who are the film's biggest critics give significant props to how the iconic Final Girl was able to come full circle.

Since the biggest ruse of this franchise was put into canon with Michael getting the win in such dramatic fashion, where could they possibly go from here? A slasher film for the aughts that incorporates the internet, palm pilots, the thirst for instant fame, and a lot of unlikeable college students. All brought in target of Michael Myers' next killing spree courtesy of DangerTainment, an online reality streaming brand from a cute, Black sort-of couple/producers Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes) and Nora Winston (Tyra Banks). While Nora's role is mostly of the behind-the-scenes facilitator, Freddie is the publicity man who can spot his money maker from horizons. Completely driven by the potential of immediate success, his over-the-top, kung-fu film appreciation, sleazy disposition I confess, makes Halloween: Resurrection enjoyable.


By his presence alone, the film decides not to take itself too seriously. Busta had some flexibility with improvisation thanks to director Rick Rosenthal and it shows. It's not just the terribly predictable one-liners that make me chuckle every time I even think about them, but the way in which Freddie is oblivious to his lack of control. With confidence in his martial arts training and business-minded intellect via DangerTainment, Freddie smugly dares to wire the abandoned childhood home of Michael Myers with cameras and cheap tricks in order to make a bunch of willing young adults privy to reality fodder.

Even insincerely convincing a frightened Sara (Bianca Kajlich) to stay on board for the Myers house shenanigans because her actual fear will result in bank. The most controversial move of them all, his donning the famous Myers attire and startled by who he thinks is one of his crew members Charley (spoiler: it's actually Michael himself) whom he proceeds to scorn with a dumpster of four-letter words. It's hilarious. And easy to explain; the franchise has already established Michael Myers as methodical, and in this instance, probably just as startled as Freddie was to see someone else dressed up like him. Someone clearly not fearful of his presence. If there's another unsuspecting person alone to take out, especially after killing Charley, why wouldn't Michael snuff out Nora and come back to ruin Freddie's potential cash cow of a program later? He's an "inhumanly patient" evil that was probably just as entertained by Freddie's kung-fu imitations and verbal quips as certain audience members were.

Once Freddie realizes the danger is real, he does everything to convince Sara that he had no evidence of Michael being alive let alone dwelling beneath his own home. He has a deeply remorseful moment and invests in both of them surviving and defeating Michael in order to leave the house safely. But not before Freddie gets some of those moves from the east in against Myers for funsies. It's absolutely absurd and like nothing we've ever seen before in this franchise but what cannot be tossed is Freddie utilizing his abilities to fight back and at least attempt to right his wrongs. Once in a body bag, Sara and Freddie are greeted by the worst reporters ever with looks on their faces I'm sure we weren't supposed to believe were expressions of concern and even more terrible Freddie dialogue to conclude this lovable catastrophe. Regardless of delivery and arguable style brought to this franchise, Freddie had redemptive layers that I found personally endearing. Freddie "DangerTainment" Harris snuck into this closed series and did not revive it, but brought a thoughtful element to a caricature that was fearless and quick to action that frankly, does not get enough dap for these details or at the very least, surviving.


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