While 'Halloween IV' holds a spot in my heart as one of the better, albeit maybe a bit slow, 'Halloween' movies, its direct sequel is, in my opinion, where the series starts to tilt downhill. I'd consider it a guilty pleasure, much like I'd consider most slashers from this era (that's why I love them so much), but this is also where the beginning of the concept of "Thorn" comes into play. Not until the very end, but still, it's there and would become much more abundant in 'Halloween VI,' but I'll get to that junk heap later.
For now, however, we'll focus on this "bridge" movie, in which Michael Myers (Don Shanks) continues to stalk his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), but also gives us hints as to what they're planning for 'Halloween VI' with a whole bunch of confusing small details, such as the "Mark of Thorn" on Michael's right wrist and a mysterious Man in Black (also Don Shanks) who comes to town, only to come into play at the very end and leave the audience with more questions. They'll, again, be answered with the 'Halloween VI' review. For now, let's go back and spoil the ending of 'Halloween IV' for many, as that's essentially where things pick up.
'Halloween' fans understand how iconic the ending scene of 'Halloween 4' is with the image of Jamie in her full clown costume, brandishing a pair of scissors (don't run with scissors, kids) and bloodied after having just attacked her stepmother. This act admits her to the Haddonfield Children's Clinic, where she has been rendered mute after the attack on her stepmother, and her terrible dreams have been upgraded to hallucinations that seem to attach to her Uncle Mickey and warn her of who's next when it comes to his victims. Again, Harris' acting at such a young age is convincing as she makes things look almost painful when she's struggling with things.
In the meantime, after Michael is seemingly blown away by Sheriff Meeker (Beau Starr) and his fellow Illinois PD officers, he gets sent down a river. He is discovered by an old hermit who evidently cared for him for about a year. Then, of course, on Halloween of '89, Michael wakes up to whatever this calling is to kill his family, and he continues his hunt for Jamie. At the same time, Loomis (Donald Pleasence) tries to intercept Michael's attacks, often offering Jamie straight-up trauma in the process, piled up on top of whatever she's experienced already. At times, it's actually almost funny, especially with the way Pleasence acts, delivering an almost unnecessarily Shakespearean weight to things.
Rachel (Elle Cornell) and her friend Tina (Wendy Foxworth) visit Jamie regularly and try to make her life as pleasant as they can, but as far as likeable characters go in this chapter, these two make about the extent of it. The rest of the time, we have a combination of bumbling cops, a few teens we actually want to see Michael do away with, and a Loomis who one can't help but hate just a little bit here, wanting to stop Michael, whatever the cost may be. There's nothing pleasant about any of his interactions with Jamie, and I can only just feel bad for her in this almost more than in 'Halloween 4'.
There are likeable characters here, but they're few and far between, including a sweet boy with perhaps a bit of a crush on Jamie named Billy (Jeffrey Landman, who would go on to sing alongside Little Richard for the 'Magic School Bus' theme song) and a cop who seems ready to do anything to defend her, deputy Charlie (Troy Evans). All the while, no one except Loomis and Billy really seems to be paying much attention to her significant hallucinations and what they actually mean. Despite the likeability of some of the aforementioned characters, it gets incredibly frustrating to watch at times.
I think what really brings the movie down, however, is also what kind of helps make it interesting. That said, it's only interesting if you watch this, have 'Halloween 6' explain things, and then come back to this to pick up on it all. And it's not really in a fun way, like watching 'Fight Club' twice in a row. Here, it feels like more of a chore. Sort of a "why couldn't this be explained in 'Halloween 5'? Either way, this whole timeline would count as the first timeline to be trashed and retconned, so I'm not sure how much it matters at this point. But I( can say that the "Thorn Trilogy" ('Halloween 4' - 'Halloween 6') can still make for something of a fun guilty pleasure.