September 3, 2009


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Halloween II (R)
Rob Zombie sets up the tent to present you with another Michael-Myers-and-family freak show in Halloween II, a sequel to the remake of the classic horror movie.

We start moments after the end of the first film with Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton), the central victim of Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) in the second part of the first Halloween movie, bloodied and walking down the street with a gun in her hand. She believes that she has just killed Michael Myers after he went on a bloody Halloween rampage. After she is rescued by the sheriff (Brad Dourif), we see her about a year later, living with him and his daughter Annie (Danielle Harris). As we know (but she doesn’t), she is the sister of Myers, the only survivor (along with Myers’ mother, who later died, played by Sheri Moon Zombie a.k.a. Mrs. Rob Zombie) of Myers’ childhood murder spree. She is having a hard time sleeping and is about to be terrorized by another book by Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), Myers’ childhood psychologist, who has made a career talking about the deeply troubled man. And, of course, Laurie is uneasy about the fact that, even though Myers is certainly, definitely, most assuredly dead, they’ve never found his body.
But, you know, don’t worry. There’s no chance he could be alive and planning another Halloween attack on Laurie, this time egged on by a vision of his mother and a white horse.

So how’s this for faint praise: I don’t not appreciate the look of the film. There’s a grimy, gritty 1970s look to the film, which helps to create an overall fog of despair. And despair seems to be the appropriate tone when you’re dealing with an unstoppable wordless psycho killer. You feel extra despairing, despair over and above the despair you might feel about, say, watching yet another mostly-naked girl screaming as she attempts to crawl on her hands and knees away from yet another lumbering faceless nutjob. I feel despair when I watch this for reasons that have nothing to do with retro grit, but additionally Halloween II features a kind of movie-wide despair that works for this kind of horror.

And hidden in this gloom there are chunks of humor, particularly anytime Malcolm McDowell is around turning Loomis into a fatuous British Nancy Grace-like character with a hardcore diva-ish bent. You can picture him demanding a bottle of French wine and a bowl of only green M&Ms in his dressing room.

But back to that screaming, crawling girl (an image that appears a couple of times here). It’s a wearying image, one that is so familiar it’s not even worth warming up your feminist-lit-crit muscle to pull apart but one that sucks the energy out of a movie, in the way that hearing the words “new initiative” during a staff meeting can suck the energy out of your morning. I’m just tired of that being the go-to picture of fear. Pick something else, Rob Zombie. Pick something with, I don’t know, spiders and eye-squishing. I promise to be freaked out by that. For a movie that offers you a boring unkillable lumbering villain, it is too much to also tire an audience out with disturbing horror movie clichés.

Perhaps die-hard fans of the naked-girl-in-peril genre or of Rob Zombie will find things to cheer here. For the rest of us, this Halloween romp is more of a muddy slog. D+

Rated R for basically every scene in the movie (or, as the MPAA puts it, for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, languages, and some crude sexual content and nudity). Written and directed by Rob Zombie, Halloween II is an hour and 41 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by the Weinstein Company.