Thursday, May 29, 2014

Movie Review – Halloween Awakening – The Legacy of Michael Myers

      In the age of the Internet everyone has an opinion on how a long-running series such as the Halloween franchise should be done.  Many of these opinions are expressed on various websites and social media sites, but few back up their opinions with an effort of their own.  Even fewer do so with any kind of style or actual contribution to the story.  However, in the case of Halloween Awakening – The Legacy of Michael Myers, the fans who created this short film may have succeeded where many before, including the “professionals,” have failed.

        Halloween Awakening is a direct sequel to Halloween Resurrection that picks up right where it left off. Halloween Awakening attempts to tie together all aspects and plots within the entire franchise. Halloween Awakening takes the two diverging story-lines within the franchise and combines them into one coherent legacy of Michael Myers.  Fuzz on the Lens Productions undersells themselves with this self-provided movie synopsis on IMDB.  Halloween:  Awakening does not attempt to tie together the loose ends of multiple Halloween plots, it successfully does so and they manage this task with style and an attention to detail that only a true fan could provide.

       It has only been in the past two to three years that I have become a fan of independent horror.  In that short time, I have come to really appreciate what some film makers are able to do on small budgets.  Halloween Awakening is a prime example that a large budget does not make a good movie and the reverse is also true.  Michael Leavy and the rest of the crew of Fuzz on the Lens Productions create an amazing movie with almost no budget at all.  The camera work and lighting is phenomenal.  Leavy understands only as a true Michael Myers fan could that Michael is scary only when he is kept in the shadows for the majority of the time.  The only time I wanted to shout “if Myers was any more obvious he would be giving you a hug!” was the scene in which Billy Brackett searches for his stored gun and even the “real” Halloween films had those moments.  The kills are brutal, but not graphic.  My personal favorite was when Jimmy and Jaclyn are preparing to have sex and Jimmy suddenly has blood coughed onto his face by Jaclyn.  The couple had been unaware the Michael was lurking in the darkness until it was too late!  The lighting and camera work is utilized in a professional manner to leave much to the imagination.  While there are definitely some oversights, such as the lack of a blood trail right after Myers slices through a girl’s throat or the absence of blood on the knife after almost every kill, these are minor issues when compared to the amazing portrayal of such an iconic killer.
        From the very opening shot, we should realize that we are watching the work of people who really appreciate Michael Myers and his story.  The shots and the writing feel very true to the original.  The score is recomposed to give it just enough of an original edge while maintaining the classic Halloween tone.  After the opening kill, we are brought up to date via a voice-over by the now deceased Dr. Samuel Loomis.  If you doubt the value of watching this fan film for even a moment, take this fact into consideration:  the voice-over of Sam Loomis is done by veteran voice actor Tom Kane, who voiced Loomis in the studio production H20:  Halloween Twenty Years Later, as well as 181 other credits.  From there, the story unfolds with an attention to detail that only a true fan and a talented pair of writers could accomplish.

        Michael Leavy and Stephen Della Salla tie together multiple Halloween story lines with finesse.  The Bracket family line and the Myers family line come back together ten years after the end of Halloween Resurrection.  All of the right references are there to provide the proper background and tightly wrap together the stories from all of the films in the Halloween saga.  Intermingled in the traditional Halloween vibe is a somewhat refreshing Scream-esque like actions and dialogue on the part of some of the characters as they avoid the stereotypical horror character mistakes.  Again, the writers manage this without going overboard or seeming to be too obvious about the difference in the characters’ decision processes (read:  no reference to horror movies as movies).  Fuzz on the Lens Productions also brings an impressive acting team together for their production. 
       While there may not be any other well-known names among the cast, they still bring a great deal of talent to the film.  Each actor finds the perfect balance between the typical pitfall of “amateur” actors, that of over or under-acting.  Each line and reaction is delivered with professionalism and tone appropriate to the scene and the situation.  My only issue with the cast was trying to believe that Michael Pio Carone , playing Steven Lloyd, was seventeen years old (I would place him easily in his mid-to-late twenties based on his appearance).   This, however, did not affect his great performance.  Perhaps the only thing more effective than the shooting, lighting, acting, and writing was the use of location.
         From the selection of Independent horror films I have seen, I would make the generalization that setting is a vital aspect of any movie that can be very difficult for an independent film maker.  The budget is not available to rent or build locations, so often they have to make do with whatever they have available to them and write the script around that (I have actually experienced this in an instance where I had to rewrite scenes in a script I had written for a local film director in order to get around the problem of not having access to the location I wanted to use).  I don’t know how the Leavy got around this issue specifically, but it is undeniable that he found a great location for Halloween Awakening.  The move is set at “Smith’s Grove Mental Hospital” and was filmed, according to Leavy, at a “semi-abandoned psychiatric hospital.”  The hospital in which they shot was so fitting for the story and the Halloween legacy that it is almost a character by itself.  The emptiness and vastness of the building helps create an amazing atmosphere of which Leavy takes full advantage.  Words do not do it justice, it is something you need to see for yourself.  The same can be said for every part of this fan-made masterpiece.  Basically, if you took the opening scene of Lorie Strode’s death from Halloween Resurrection, added about thirty minutes of movie, and tacked on Halloween Awakening, you would have had a MUCH better finale to the Halloween franchise than what Hollywood managed to give us!

So now that I am done with my elaborate gushing over this fantastic short film, let’s take a look at The Rage Circus breakdown.

Acting – 5/5
Story - 5/5

Effects - 4/5

Camera Work/Production Skill - 5/5
Overall Entertainment Value – 4.75/5

Check out the film for yourself for free:  You can also stay on top of what the amazingly talented film makers at Fuzz on the Lens Productions are up to and support their work at their website: 

No comments:

Post a Comment