After making my way through the misfit Halloween III: Season of the Witch, I was more than ready to get back to the story of Michael Myers with the aptly named Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and I was not disappointed. Released six years after Halloween III, Halloween 4 moves the focus to Jamie (Danielle Harris), the young daughter of Laurie Strode (and by extension Michael’s niece) who is struggling to live with her foster family, as she suffers from constant nightmares of Michael, though she doesn’t realize it’s him as yet.
Michael conveniently escapes the day before Halloween and makes his way back to Haddonfield once he learns that he has a niece. Pursuing him along the way is Dr. Loomis, now badly scarred after suffering burns due to the conclusion of Halloween II (a nice continuity touch). There’s a noticeable difference to Loomis in this film, compared to his appearances in Halloween and Halloween II. While he was always obsessed with Michael to a certain degree, starting with this film Loomis becomes noticeably vengeful too. This is no longer a case of a doctor wanting to save the world from his incurably evil patient, now Loomis is distinctly obsessed with killing Michael to remove his evil from the world. That, combined with the scars, makes Loomis a little frightening in his own right.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the focus of Halloween moving to Jamie, a young girl. But Danielle Harris’ performance in this film is quite good, not least because she reacts to Michael exactly the way you’d expect a little kid too: with fear, terror and a lot of screaming. Speaking of, those screams practically broke my heart. It also left me completely unprepared for how the film would end (more on that in a little while).
I’ve read multiple times that people don’t like Michael’s mask in Halloween 4, but I confess I don’t see the problem with it. It’s clearly established that this is a different mask from the one he had before (he stole it from that store Jamie was in), so naturally it’s going to have a different look. It was certainly scary enough for me, I had no problem believing that was Michael Myers.
Then there’s the ending of the film and THAT final scene with Jamie. Considering it’s been over a year since I saw the original Halloween, I’d forgotten the significance of Jamie wearing a clown costume for trick or treating as young Michael wore something similar when he killed his older sister. If you make the connection back to the original film, it provides a frightening bit of foreshadowing for the horror that will come in the film’s closing moments. I particularly liked how Halloween 4 pays homage to the first film’s opening scene by giving us a POV through mask holes. And that last image of Jamie….that will remain burned in my brain for years to come, and I KNEW the scene existed! Being easily frightened, I review a summary of each Halloween film before I watch it so I’m not overwhelmed by the kills or jump scares, so I knew exactly how Halloween 4 ends. But even though I knew, it didn’t stop the ending from giving me an emotional gut punch that left me sitting stunned through the credits. That is the sign of a good film, when you know how it ends but it still gets to you anyway.
The original Halloween is still the best in the series, but dare I say it, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is not far behind. This is definitely one of my favorite films in the series and it left me eager to move on to Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (though in hindsight I shouldn’t have been that eager).
Let me know what you think about Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in the comments below and have a great day!
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