I'm Unsure as to Why John Carpenter Hasn't Sued the Makers of Methodic

Also James Cameron might have a case, but just for one scene.

When I read the synopsis of Methodic, I was full-on stunned. Let's take a gander at it together, shall we?

“As a child, Nicholas Matthews (Stephen Muzzonigro) became possessed by a malevolent entity called the Dollman, who drove him to murder his parents. After years in a mental institution, Nicholas seems to have finally overcome the demon inside him. But the Dollman has only remained dormant, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take control of Nicholas once again and drive him to slaughter the innocent. Niki Notarile co-stars in this paranormal shocker.”

My initial reaction, as it necessarily must have been, was shock that someone had remade Halloween without licensing the rights. It's not like this is a completely unheard-of phenomenon, the movie 'Halloween Night' claimed to be based on a true story, which was accurate insofar as it's true that the movie Halloween was made, the filmmakers saw it, and then decided to turn a profit by ripping it off. Halloween Night at least went to the effort of mixing things up a little while committing criminal acts of plagiarism - there were some gratuitous lesbians, a bloated cast of teens at a party, a new needlessly convoluted backstory... enough changes so that the filmmakers could have offered a plausible defense in court should John Carpenter have decided to sue them.

They wouldn't have won the case, of course, but at least they could have made a decent showing.

Methodic doesn't even put in that much effort. Save the gratuitous lesbians, of course. Now, let's break Methodic's various sins against originality and filmmaking into a few different categories for easier consumption.

1 - Time Sure Flies, Except When It Doesn't

The film opens with home movies of a child's birthday party. That child, one Michael Myers, has ceased talking, and begun drawing pictures of a monster he refers to as 'The Dollman'.

Just what is this 'Dollman'? Well, according to the synopsis we just read, it's the demonic presence that causes Michael to kill his parents that very night. So that happens, leaving only his sisters, one five years older and the other ten years younger, alive. In the aftermath we meet two important characters:

Uncle Dan, a police officer friend of the Lawyer father.

Dr. Pell, who fails to treat Michael's mental illness up until his retirement, when he stops worrying about it. Although, since his treatment style basically consisted of screaming “Why won't you talk to me?!” at a child, it's not a huge surprise that he has an easy time letting the job go.

Why focus on these two characters? Well, when, in the next scene, the film jumps ahead twenty years, the two have gone suspiciously untouched by the ravages of time.

Compare this to Michael's older sister:

Would it really have been such a chore to grab different actors for the two scenes that featured younger versions of the characters?

2 - All the Best Insane Asylums Feature Soloflex Equipment

The man playing adult Michael is in really, really good shape. This isn't something I would normally go out of my way to discuss because normally it wouldn't have any effect on the plot. This isn't the case when it comes to Methodic, however, which puts the killer's physique so far into the forefront of the story that it's impossible not to consider.

Why on earth is he wearing a skin-tight turtleneck except to show off his build? This is not the body of a man who hasn't moved or spoken in the past twenty years. Things get even more preposterous late in the film when a no-longer-possessed Michael is recovering from a gunshot wound in the hospital.

Again, there's no reason for the character not to be wearing a hospital gown in this scene - no reason, of course, other than the actor's desire to get some mileage from all those hours spent in the gym. Which really shouldn't sync up with priorities of a filmmaker, I think.

Perhaps the actor playing Michael could have switched roles with the cop, whose more plausible physique:

Might have better-suited a character who'd spent his entire life in an asylum? And Michael's ridiculous amount of muscle tone might have added some dimension to the otherwise under-served generic cop character.

3 - None shall question Dollman's style!

After breaking out of his asylum cell Dollman's first stop is the house of a random woman whose intellect is so deficient that she jumps to the conclusion that there must be some innocent explanation for the sound of a sewing machine she hears rattling away in her presumably empty home.

Naturally, this doesn't go well for her, as the sound was Michael using the Singer to put together a Dollman mask.

He checks himself out in the mirror and decides that the look isn't complete, so he grabs a marker and adds a minimalist smile - a look that would have been creepy enough that it might have caused the viewer to overlook the fact that the mindless killer took a break in his rampage to use a sewing machine.

It would have, had the mask's design not been overthought by someone in the production. In an attempt to creep-up the mask (by which I mean make it look more like the actual Myers mask) by adding charcoal shading around the eyes and nose.

Suddenly the mask goes from something a mental patient threw together in an attempt to recreate a childish drawing from two decades earlier to something that's been self-consciously designed to be as creepy as possible by someone on the production staff.

Guess which would have been more effective?

4 - Wait, what was that about James Cameron?

That's the main character on the right and her roommate on the left. You may be wondering why the main character has a roommate at all, when, for the purposes of the rest of the plot she seems to live with her sister and brother-in-law. The roommate exists for the oldest reason of all: bodycount!

In a desire to kill two birds with one stone the filmmaker goes one better with the roommate 'character', and makes her a gratuitous lesbian because, as we've learned so many times over in these low-budget horror films, if you're going to be shooting an exploitative sex scene anyways, four breasts are more marketable than two.

After their romp the two characters are murdered in a suspiciously familiar fashion. Here are the elements that make up the scene - see if they ring any bells for you:

1 - One character is dispatched quickly near the kitchen while making a snack.
2 - The other character is brutally beaten to death in a bedroom, attacked while napping.
3 - One character is wearing a personal stereo, and therefore doesn't hear their lover being murdered by the killer.
4 - The entire murder scene occurs because of mistaken identity: The killer's intent was to attack the main character, and her roommate and the roommate's lover suffer for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That's right, the whole scene plays like a beat-for-beat ripoff of the sequence from Terminator set in Sarah's apartment. Which the filmmaker even nods to by having the main character and her older sister plan to watch Terminator that very night.

Apparently no one told the filmmaker that admitting theft doesn't automatically excuse it. Or ever excuse it, actually. Just as casting Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Bracket from Halloween) as the Chief of Police in this movie doesn't excuse the wholesale theft of the rest of that film.

In an insult-to-injury moment, when the roommate is killed it's only after Michael fails to transfer the evil dollman entity into her - he mistook her for his sister, you see. Let's get that picture of them again?

Completely different builds - their hair isn't even the same length or colour. That's some bad casting right there, y'all.

5 - The Best Thieves Are Ambitious Thieves

So many filmmakers have ripped off Halloween that an entire genre grew out of its footsteps. Friday the 13th was famously retitled to suggest a subconscious connection to the film that most obviously inspired it. What most filmmaking thieves fail to understand is that it wasn't the brutal violence or specific subject matter that made Halloween such a success (it doesn't feature much violence, despite what the movie Scream would have you believe), it was the masterful filmmaking on display.

That is not a failing I can ascribe to those responsible for the film Methodic - not satisfied with simply borrowing the entire plot of the film Halloween, the filmmakers responsible for this one decided to bite Carpenter's style as well.

This is how the film presents all of its scare and kill sequences. Wide shots giving a sense of the whole location.

Minimal camera movement.

Michael forever lurking at the edge of frame before moving in for the attacks, which are always carried out in a simple and brutal fashion. It's a spare style, and I don't want this to sound like a criticism. Yes, it would have been nice had the director attempted to offer anything of his own, stylistically speaking, but if you're going to rip someone off, thank god it's someone who makes tasteful, visually coherent films.

Methodic doesn't have much going for it, and what positives it does possess come straight from Halloween (save the gratuitous lesbians, of course), but that film is so strong that even a faded print of it still has plenty to offer the viewer.

But really, you should just watch Halloween again instead.

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