Halloween II (2009)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Sadistic Horror  |   Release Date - Aug 28, 2009 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

Rob Zombie takes his brand of hillbilly horror to new unpleasant levels with his follow-up to the much-maligned reboot of the Halloween series.

Once again, gone is the slow-brewed tension that the franchise was framed upon. In its place are a series of brutal exercises -- not only in onscreen deaths, but in genre filmmaking as a whole. The release that usually comes with enjoying a slasher film has been changed to sheer repulsion -- and this doesn't come from a conservative standpoint either. Zombie's fetishized portrayal of violence baffles the brain with its mix of in-your-face gore and unrepentant viciousness, as if a homicidal maniac was let loose in Vietnam, complete with an MTV director filling in as a war photographer following his every move. One might think there was a method to this madness, but then, mixed with the sheer pretension of the added fantastical elements, it becomes quite clear that Halloween II is simply a mess -- made by a misguided filmmaker whose access to Hollywood properties apparently comes with no barriers.

The film picks up where the last one left off. Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) survives an attack by her mental-patient brother, Michael Myers, whom she doesn't know is related to her. On the way to the morgue, the ambulance carrying Michael crashes and, miraculously, the killer survives and heads out into the countryside, his body never recovered by the authorities. In the meantime, the madman's doctor, Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), has turned into a media whore on the cusp of superstardom with the release of his exposé on the horrific happenings presented in the previous film. As time ticks down to Halloween night, Michael, now living in a barn and apparently in contact with the spirit of his dead mother and his younger self, is driven to seek out his sister once again. Typical "shocking" Rob Zombie staples abound -- mayhem ensues, obnoxious teen dialogue is dropped (as are unending F-bombs), heads are smashed in, a naked stripper is bashed into a mirror six or seven times -- all while character motivations remain fuzzy to the extreme.

So what exactly is the point of this lousy exercise? To prove that Zombie has the guts to realize his "extreme vision"? Well, he certainly gets points for being ballsy. No matter how far the series fell before he came on, it never strayed this far away from where it began. What the filmmaker doesn't understand are his weaknesses; to put it bluntly, he isn't cut out to deliver a scare flick. And when he does try to bring in something new (à la the dream sequences with Mommy Meyers and the horse), it comes off rather contrived -- and, at worst, a conceit that exists only to give his shrill-voiced wife more screen time. Additionally, his '70s-infected Tarantino-lite dialogue has become torturous, as are his uneven musical choices. Thankfully his stunt casting is a bit toned down here, though not one spot has any of the entertainment value that Dawn of the Dead's Ken Foree brought to the previous film.

Odds are that Michael Myers will come back -- let's just hope that he doesn't come prepackaged with a filmmaker whose ego and hang-ups trump the real promise of this horror staple.