Directed by: Rob Zombie
Premise: A sequel to the 2007 remake. A year after his Halloween killing spree, Michael Myers returns to stalk Laurie (Scout Taylor Compton), his estranged sister. In the course of events, Laurie discovers her true parentage and Michael’s motivation is revealed.
What Works: Aside from an early coda sequence, the film is not a remake of Halloween II from 1981. Instead, Rob Zombie builds off of what he established in his previous Halloween film, exploring the relationship between Michael and his sister. Zombie continues to make his Halloween series a distinct entry in the slasher genre. This sequel breaks one of the understated rules of the slasher film, in that it goes into the killer’s head and gives him a motivation. In the process, the film includes creepy and in some cases stunning visuals that recall the original Hellraiser. This risk mostly pays off as it enriches Michael’s psychology and gives more meaning to the violence. Scout Taylor Compton, who is a very natural actress, returns as Laurie and this film gives her more to do and significant emotional baggage to carry as she suffers post-traumatic stress. One of the more amusing and risky alterations in Zombie’s new Halloween film is its treatment of the character of Dr. Loomis, again played by Malcolm McDowell. In this film Loomis has become a celebrity diva by exploiting Michael’s murders through a tell-all book. McDowell adds a lot of humor to the picture and his subplot ties in with the main plot fairly well.
What Doesn’t: Halloween II has a lot of problems. For one, the film uses dream sequences too much. Although there is an obvious goal here of undermining Laurie’s sanity, which pays off in the end, it comes off as a cheat and a cheap scare, especially when screen time could be better spent developing supporting characters who are killed off too quickly without enough preparation or proper staging. Halloween II suffers from a lack of focus and the picture tends to lose its way in the middle of the film; rather than driving toward a final confrontation it ends up there without a lot of dramatic build up. Also, the film also succumbs to coincidence too often. Characters randomly pop up at different locations for no apparent reason other than that it is convenient for the story.
Bottom Line: Halloween II recalls another horror sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, in its unique visual style but also in its messiness. There is a lot to admire in Zombie’s Halloween sequel and in his take on the Michael Myers mythology as a whole. Halloween II is mired by a lack of focus but it is at least interesting viscerally and intellectually.
Episode: #254 (September 6, 2009)