Two years after his reboot of the Halloween franchise, rocker-turned-director Rob Zombie delivers a sequel to his vision with Halloween II. Whereas the 2007 film stayed more or less true to the horror film series, he is way off with his newest film which mediates between pure trash and disrespect towards the franchise.
The film picks up where Halloween left off. The film’s heroine Laurie has just survived an assault on her life by masked serial killer Michael Myers that left most of her friends and family, and presumably Michael, dead. A year later she suffers from post-traumatic stress and daily nightmares. Needless to say, Michael Myers is, in fact, alive. He returns to go on yet another rampage to kill Laurie and everyone standing in the way (actually, even those not standing in the way).
To get the positive out of the way, Zombie’s directing is quite nice visually. However, the direction is a bit messy at times, especially when the editing suffers an epileptic fit whenever someone is killed. Nevertheless, the film gets off to a decent start. While it promises nothing groundbreaking, it provides solid, thrilling entertainment with the violence reaching a Halloween all-time high.
However, once the plot accelerates, Zombie’s lack of writing skill becomes apparent. The characters are shallow and their constant cursing does not allow the viewer to develop any sympathy for them. Dr. Loomis, Michael’s former psychiatrist, has always been the heart and soul of the Halloween franchise (next to Laurie and Michael himself).
In Halloween II he is nothing but a caricature of his former self. Instead of dedicating his life to hunting Michael, he is now a greedy and dislikable character. In one of the film’s lowest points, he is ridiculed by Weird Al Yankovic in a talk show on which he is promoting his book on Myers. Good god…
Laurie experiences a similar transformation. The good-natured, sweet girl is now a tattooed, foul-mouthed party animal who lives in a dump of a house with a pentagram sprayed on her bathroom door and a Charles Manson poster over her bed.
It’s the bad writing and Zombie’s insistence on forcing his style onto the film that results in the franchise losing its two heroes (Laurie and Loomis). This creates an imbalance between good and bad, leaving the viewer with nothing to engage with.
Overall, there is very little left of the essence of Halloween. The theme tune is not played until the end credits, Michael’s face is revealed several times (for some reason he has a massive ZZ Top beard) and the plot is too far-fetched with some sequences reaching a level of absurdity that would make David Lynch proud.
These moments mostly occur when Zombie attempts to explain the motivations behind Michael Myers’ urge to kill. Where this already failed in his prequel/remake from 2007, when he gave Michael a background, it reaches a new dimension of stupidity in Halloween II.
A young Myers and his mother’s ghost frequently occur before him, ordering him to kill so they can be together again. Explaining Michael with these ridiculous scenes completely takes away his mysterious, dark and unknown side that made us fear him in the first place. But hey, Zombie somehow managed to squeeze in his wife (Sheri Moon Zombie) to portray Michael’s mother even though she died in Halloween, so everyone is happy, right?
On the bright side, Zombie has confirmed that he will not direct Halloween III (apparently in 3D). We can only hope that the series will move away from its new gothic style and give Dr. Loomis, Laurie and Michael their real identities back. I think we would all like to see a return to the minimalist style of Carpenter’s original rather than being smothered by an excess of gore and, let’s face it, trash.