29 January 2010

Movie Review: Halloween 2 (2009)


Halloween 2
2009, 105mins, 18
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Cast includes: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie
UK Release Date: 9th October 2009

Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of “Halloween” was not an atrocious film but rather a misguided one, doing some interesting things in its opening hour before fluffing the second half in a slavish imitation of John Carpenter’s seminal classic. The film made money but wasn’t particularly well received by the fanboy populous; shunning it in a fit of enraged geekery. Given such a response it’s perplexing that Zombie felt he needed to give the property a second run (though it’s no shock the sequel exists, the first did light the box-office on fire) or that he even could given the conclusive nature of his 2007 effort. Yet proving that you can’t keep the boogie man down we now have “Halloween 2”, and boy is it a peculiar thing. The movie is an utter and unforgivable mess but some mileage can be drawn from the wild concepts lying within, if “Halloween” 07 was Zombie paying homage to Carpenter than “Halloween 2” is his own crazed and ill judged take on the material. It’s fairly awful – but also undoubtedly a defiant original.

The picture opens a year after the events of Zombie’s first flick. Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton, who is again toxic in the role) is strung out and distressed concerning the murderous rampage Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) conducted last Halloween in pursuit of her. Many of her friends and family have been slain though the promise that the masked lunatic is finally dead gets her through the days. However that was obviously never going to be the case. Michael’s body was never recovered and as a result he still stalks the countryside waiting for Halloween to roll around again, so he might take another go at capturing his unknowing sister. Powered by extremely odd visions of his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and a white horse; Michael heads to the little town of Haddonfield to finally unite his family and of course do a whole lot of killing.

In fairness Zombie’s sequel is no worse than the original 1981 “Halloween 2”, and he’s a far better director than that film’s poisonous helmer Rick Rosenthal. Whilst Rosenthal’s unwatchable sequel was like sitting through a dodgy amalgamation of Carpenters first movie and a “Friday the 13th” knock-off, Zombie’s is at least totally unique in all its horrendousness. The biggest concern is the confused narrative and epic mishandling of the central story, there are half a dozen good ideas bobbling about inside the picture but not one is given adequate air to breathe. Zombie splits the film into three distinct strands, one featuring Laurie and her painful mental situation, one with a newly popularized Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) thanks to his bestseller based on Myers, and one following Michael as he pursues his murderous goal. The Myers subplot is the least enticing; the combination of ethereal imagery and relentless bloodshed becomes wearisome and exhausting very quickly. The visions he sees of his mother are laughable and seem hideously out of place, despite Zombie acknowledging their psychological importance in a first frame disclaimer. Some of the visuals this encourages are stylish but the overall concept is out of place within the story and as a result it doesn’t work.

Taylor-Compton is poor as Laurie and induces very little sympathy or an organic sense of despair; it’s a false and lazy job that scuppers large mounds of her arc. The best plotline is that of Loomis and this is carried thanks to a decent performance from McDowell (really the films main redeeming feature) who does a controlled and enjoyable job of subtly expressing the characters guilt. His acting gets a bit hammy in the unremarkable climax but overall it’s the Loomis aspect of the picture that satisfies most. Zombie never really threads these separate ideas together in a cohesive fashion, his attempts to make them sit comfortably together are hackneyed and tender footed. The movie ranks right up top as one of the goriest and most brutal this franchise has offered, but such consistent bloodletting fits well within Zombie’s ugly and bleak view of the world. Where Carpenter made Haddonfield a quaint and pretty community, Zombie envisions it as a place with more strip clubs than shops. It’s a bleak and relentlessly seedy looking location and this too eventually grates and stirs annoyance.

“Halloween 2” is bursting with imagination but ultimately the end result is mostly unwatchable. Even in its execution of slasher fundamentals like suspense it disappoints, an area that Zombie’s previous stab at the universe actually handled modestly well. The director has come up with several additives to spice up the event, but as a whole it feels cluttered and is more successful as a comedy than it is a horror. “Halloween 2” isn’t quite a nadir for this franchise but despite the audacity of the filmmakers it’s still a colossal failure.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2010


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