Movie Review – Halloween II (2009)

Halloween II (2009)
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie expressed extreme exhaustion from making his Halloween reboot. I think it was a task he put a lot of weight on his own shoulders because Zombie admired the original film. So, when talk of a sequel came up, Zombie was pretty much out. Instead, French filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo were in talks to helm the follow-up. Eventually, the producers wooed Zombie back to write and direct Halloween II. Would he follow the first film by doing a remake of the original sequel? Kind of. There is a small portion of the movie with Laurie in a hospital, but this Halloween II goes in a very different direction. With the whole cast reprising their roles (sans young Michael as that actor had gotten too tall), Halloween II was a go.

The film opens seconds after the first movie’s conclusion. Laurie (Scout Taylor Compton) has just shot Michael in the head and wandered down the street. She’s found by Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif), who gets her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Michael’s body is picked up by paramedics and on the way to the morgue. However, a car accident occurs, and Michael (Tyler Mane) awakens, killing both EMTs. This is where we get an overlong fakeout hospital dream sequence that should have been cut. Instead, the actual narrative follows Laurie a year later. She lives with the Bracketts and is going through severe mental health issues.

Michael is living as a drifter, currently holed up in a barn in the midwest. He’s having visions of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) appearing as a woman in white guiding him down a path to reunite with his sister. Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is peddling his new book about the mind of Michael while refuting notions that despite his body missing, the killer is still out there. Much of the movie centers on the trauma of Michael’s assault in the first movie. But it still has that thing that I don’t like, trying to humanize and put a face on Michael. At the end of the movie, we even get Michael fully mask off & face revealed. I find that to be a sort of cardinal sin when making a Halloween film.

I think the decision to show Laurie as someone psychologically wounded by her assault is a good idea. However, the execution is where I felt annoyed with the movie. The dialogue for Laurie and Compton’s performance of the character are not good. It reeks of a guy trying to write to a young woman and her friends. The result is gratingly false scenes with girls just calling each other “bitch” and “slut” a lot. Maybe the women Zombie hangs around act like this, but it felt very performative. They never felt like actual friends but the kind of female friends that show up all too often in horror shlock. Even the scenes between Laurie and her psychiatrist (Margot Kidder) are way too over the top for what I assume Zombie is going for here. It’s shouting-acting in the place of actual nuance & tension.

Loomis is a complete sellout of a human being, all of his negative traits from the first movie amplified here. He spends most of the film attending book promotionals (signings, talks, even a fake late-night talk show). Zombie appears to be attempting a critique of the media exploitation of trauma and true crime. Loomis always feels so distant from the other characters in the movie that I’m unsure if his arc is complete. He’s somewhere in the periphery until the very end when he shows up during a hostage negotiation with Michael. The hubris of Loomis is certainly on display, but I just never really gelled with this variation on the character. I’ll always prefer Loomis to be a deeply flawed version of Van Helsing, obsessive in wanting to destroy Michael, regardless of who else gets hurt.

The movie’s grand finale involves Laurie’s fallout from learning Michael is her brother (via Loomis’ book). There’s some sort of moment of joining, with the Myers matriarch causing Laurie to convulse. It’s never clear if Michael and Laurie are both seeing their mom’s spirit or if it’s that they share the same mental illness. The very last scene of the movie implies that Laurie has succumbed to the madness that got Michael. This sequel has so many moving parts, a sign of Zombie being too ambitious and not self-editing. The result is that few characters feel like their stories get a sense of closure. Michael is apparently dead; Laurie has gone insane. But everyone else just sort of ends when the movie ends. I think Zombie should be applauded for his ambition, but I wouldn’t say these will go down as Halloween films I’m eager to revisit.

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