Halloween 2 (2009)

Well, it’s January again. Christmas time has come and gone, the New Year has begun, and what better way to start things off than with a deluge of horror films. At least that’s what Hollywood apparently believes. Apparently the annual January to February tradition for rentals is to make available the many horror films that were released to theaters the previous September and October. The most recent horror film from last year to be released was the not-so eagerly anticipated (at least by me) Rob Zombie sequel to his “Halloween” remake from 2007, the aptly titled “Halloween 2”.

“Halloween 2” finds Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton) struggling to find some semblance of understanding as to why the masked monstrosity known as Michael Myers attacked her and her friends without provocation. Now, two years after that horrific night, the presumed dead Michael Myers has mysteriously returned to Haddonfield to finish what he started.

While watching this horrible creation spawned from the twisted mind of former rocker turned writer/director Rob Zombie, I was reminded yet again that this new remake driven “Halloween” franchise is nothing at all like its predecessor. For clarification, the fact that a remake-centric series is drastically different from the original is not necessarily a bad thing. In this case though, the bad far outweighs any good that one could possibly gleam from the first two entries into the new franchise.

For starters, the initial remake in 2007 was a twisted amalgamation of depravity, sadism, and gratuitous sex and gore that shared only a slight resemblance to the John Carpenter classic to which it was supposedly paying homage. Not only did it have all that working against it, but it also tried to create a sense of empathy for Michael Myers, and I for one do not want to feel sorry for or understand him. I preferred the Michael that was more mysterious and ultimately less savage than what we find in this series. So, with the initial movie, this series of “Halloween” films was already off to a bad start and with “Halloween 2” the quality appears to have suffered even more.

In the sequel, everything that was sick and twisted about the first film is taken even further in this entry. The gore is even more grotesque and pervasive, the characters are even more morally bankrupt, and the unbridled savagery of Michael is taken to an all-time low for either series. Essentially, there are no redeemable aspects to find within this movie, except (and this is a stretch) it does attempt to bring a resolution to the story that was started in the previous film… oh, and the fact that the movie ends (that was my favorite part of the experience).

Now, this is not to say that the original series was brilliant filmmaking or a treasure trove of movie goodness, but it never once sank to the depths of darkness and despair that has consumed this newest franchise. The aspects that made the original John Carpenter classic so intriguing were as follows: Michael was a mystery to the audience, the story constantly kept a steady pace, the characters were moderately interesting, and whenever an attack were about to occur the suspense was so palpable that it could be cut with a knife.

With Rob Zombie’s revisionist look at the series all the suspense has been stripped away and replaced with an in your face approach that leaves nothing to the imagination and excessive gore that rivals the “Saw” franchise. The plot plods along at a meandering pace for much of the time. For example, how many times must we be shown Michael just walking around? I get it, the man doesn’t really drive or run anywhere he goes, he has to walk, point taken. Then, there’s the odd psychological elements included in the movie that are more distracting than illuminating. The intentions of these scenes is to give us some insight into Michael’s inner psyche; however, the scenes come off as being an amateurish and pathetic attempt to make the movie seem smarter than it could ever hope to be.

Honestly, these film work best when less time is spent on explaining the reasoning and driving forces for these villains. If Zombie would have paid better attention, the original franchise went south when the writers started trying to explore what made Michael tick, rather than just leave his story be with what was revealed about his and Laurie’s connection in the second film. This movie’s running time of nearly two hours could have been trimmed down by at least 30 minutes had we removed all the unnecessary walking bits or the nonsensical, ponderous moments showcasing Michael’s inner neurosis.

Another oddity to me is the fact that the characters swear with almost every other word that is spoken. I know that they’re supposed to be teenagers, some of which have survived some decidedly grisly events, but I think one would be hard-pressed to find any true teenager that has a vocabulary so limited that cuss words are used for the majority of their adjectives, verbs, and so on. To me, I think Rob Zombie takes the approach when making a movie that he is going to take every aspect to the extreme even if it sacrifices realism and/or becomes irritating and disrupts the flow of the movie. Either that or this is an example of just how limited his vocabulary truly is. Who knows?

Now, that I feel I have sufficiently torn into the bulk of the film and its shortcomings, let’s discuss the cast for a moment. Out of the entire film, the primary cast members are the only elements that can receive even a glimmer of praise.

Leading the cast is Scout Taylor Compton reprising her role as Laurie Strode. Scout does a passable job of trying to keep Laurie grounded without going too overboard in the hysterics while coping with her nightmarish memories. Although, she does go a little crazy in a few scenes and out of the entire cast she is the primary culprit for using expletives incessantly. As I pointed out above, the constant battery of four letter words does begin to distract. Not to mention, take away from the proceedings, plus making Laurie seem uneducated due to such a restricted vocabulary.

The supporting cast is essentially comprised of the other survivors from the previous movie. Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Sam Loomis, who was one of the best parts of the previous film, is flat-out irritating in this installment. For whatever reason Loomis is now a glory seeking media hound who is trying to find his fame by capitalizing on Michael’s murderous rage. Previously, Loomis was a sympathetic character who only wanted to help Michael and then stop him in the end due to his feeling responsible for his continued existence (much the same way as Donald Pleasence’s version of Loomis had done). However, in this film, there is only the slightest glimmer of that Dr. Loomis lurking within, and what has replaced him is a narcissistic man who lives solely for the limelight. Despite this change in character, Malcolm does handle this new Loomis very well and makes his purported self-importance believable in every scene.

Rounding out the supporting cast is Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris as Sheriff Brackett and his daughter Annie, respectively. Neither of these two characters really got to do all that much in this film. Both were much more involved in the previous movie, but this time around were relegated to the background and only popping up to provide some arguably questionable moral support for Laurie.

Lastly, Rob Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, does appear several times throughout the film, mainly during the moments spotlighting Michael’s inner thoughts. Her performance was fairly one-note, nowhere nearly as emotional or intriguing as she had been in the previous film. Plus, her scenes in this movie were some of the most boring and drawn out in the entire film. Her character would have been better off left in the sole flashback sequence seen at the beginning of the movie, as this was the most engaging moment for her character.

Not that this is necessary, but in summation, this movie is an absolutely dreadful piece of cinematic garbage that should have remained in the recesses of Rob Zombie’s twisted imagination. Containing only scant moments of interest yet filled to the brim with unreasonable amounts of gore, violence, and language. “Halloween 2” is by far one of the worst films ever created for any genre, and that’s saying a lot.

“Halloween 2” is available in rated R and unrated editions; both contain pervasive violence, language, and nudity.

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