starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, Will Patton
written by Paul Brad Logan & Chris Bernier & Danny McBride & David Gordon Green
directed by David Gordon Green
by Walter Chaw I think the point, if not the pleasure principle, of franchise entertainments is the illusion of ownership over them, the obsessive knob-polishing of arcane knowledge not so very different, in many cases, from the pursuit of doctorate degrees in the liberal arts. You dedicate your life to learning so much about an exceptionally narrow field of study that you eventually come to a place where you know a lot about a little and not much about the rest. This monocultural--and, in most cases, monotextual--training tutors one in identifying deviations from the mean, so that what was joy in discovery becomes jealous taxonomy in defense of the tiny corner you've painted yourself into. The point of it all, ultimately, is to complain. When a totem such as John Carpenter's Halloween arrives, it carries with it the inspiration for epistemological/maniacal cults: entire fields of worship in which the limited revelations provided by a singular text serve as the foundation for religion. Hungry for more tablets, new installments are met with jeweller's glasses and tests of fidelity to the one true Word. The complaining, in other words, starts immediately. Is this new version of the Golden Calf walking the right way? Is it behaving as it should? Slow, not fast, or fast, never slow? Is it savage enough? Is the hero worthy? Is the lamb worthy of the blade? Each new film in any long-running series that earns enough each time out to warrant a continuation receives the scrutiny attending the unearthing of a new book of the Bible. Sources are vetted, false prophets are suspected, bloody debates are had in the town square, and finally, it's either the grudging acceptance into a growing canon or a casting off into the wilderness. The complaining is the point. It solidifies a community like the negging built into Evangelical outreach missions, and it's instant. The only thing verboten is if the franchise threatens the fragile identities of the high priests of its insular cult of personality.