Review: ‘Halloween 2’

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Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 doesn’t live up to the promise of his first effort and is only marginally entertaining for its running time. The film, which begins about a minute after the last one ends, continues the tale of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) and her descent into madness. During the film she’s also pursued by Michael Myers, a sinister and relentless killing machine who even thought he’s on a mission to find Laurie and do whatever it is sociopaths do with people they find instead of killing them, he manages to stop along the way and kill many people seemingly at random or just because they happen to be in his way.

There are some things to like about this sequel. First, Zombie manages to up the tension and the stakes a bit from the first one — its now even more about saving Laurie — plus he throws in a pretty effective misdirection at the beginning of the film that leads us to believe we’re going to be watching a very faithful remake of the original Halloween sequel. Fortunately, he’s able to get away from that concept pretty gracefully and ends up taking the film into another less familiar, but in the end no less predictable, direction.

I’m sure once this film hits DVD we will get to see Zombie’s actual director’s cut of the film and more of it will make sense. Until then, the film is still worth seeing at due to its high quotient of absurd violence and for finally getting to see the Michael Myers we all know and love, mindless killing machine that he is. In fact, once the film hits its stride its almost fun to watch Michael back at his old game and hacking people up. After all, this is a horror film in the more traditional sense, so it should involve some of this kind of action.

The film also does have another thing going for it: Rob Zombie. He manages to put his own stamp on the film and at least strives to make it something original instead of merely a remake of the first film. This is the same thing he did in the first Halloween when, in particular, he delved into more of the history of and psychosis of Michael Myers instead of merely setting him loose on his rampage. Zombie wants us, in some ways, to understand Michael and even to, perhaps, sympathize with his plight.

He’s not completely the mindless killing machine he appears to be. Even Dr. Loomis, played by the always watchable Malcom McDowell, would tell us the same thing. He even goes so far as to put his own life on the line near the end of the film to prove he understand Michael and can help the situation simply by talking to him. I won’t spoil it for you and let you know how it turns out but seeing as this film is about Michael Myers and the eventual descent into his crazy world that Laurie undergoes, you can probably guess.

Sadly, in spite of its few strengths, the film is lacking in many areas. Perhaps its because I’ve been watching a lot of films and TV programs that employ this particular device of late, but the use of hallucinations and dead people telling the protagonist to do things to help propel the story and alert the audience of the lead character’s obvious mental problems is a tired device and one that I hope goes away soon. Unfortunately, adding a white horse to the proceedings, even with the provided explanation as to the meaning of said horse at the beginning of the film, doesn’t really help.

These particular scenes, which involve Laure’s mother, played by the lovely and talented Sheri Moon Zombie, felt a bit tacked on to me and in some ways seemed designed just to give Mrs. Zombie something to do in the film. Granted, I don’t mind watching her do almost anything, but I actually preferred when she appeared in the film during the opining flashbacks, which also featured the brand new young Michael Myers Chase Vanek.

With all the rumors swirling around this film, talk of its long running time and cuts mandated by the studio, the film is a bit disjointed and pieces seem out of place or out of order somehow. I feel like there’s a much better film in there somewhere struggling to get out but sadly, it wasn’t allowed out this time.

As the film speeds along to its inevitable and predictable conclusion we are left to wonder if it could have ended any other way. Could Michael have broken the spell of his dead mother and taken off the mask? Could Laurie have fought the urge to become just like her brother? In this world created by Zombie, madness is inevitable, you will hallucinate and be influenced by your dead mother and you will end up like your brother no matter what. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape family.

  • Interview with Rob Zombie |
    August 30, 2009 at 11:41 am

    […] My friend and colleague Matt Raub interviews musician/writer/director Rob Zombie about his latest film Halloween 2. Which, oddly enough, I review right here. […]

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