Halloween II (2009)

Synopsis: Rob Zombie’s H2 (Halloween) picks up at the exact moment that 2007’s box-office smash, Halloween stopped and follows the aftermath of Michael Myers’s (Tyler Mane) murderous rampage through the eyes of heroine Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton).

Evil has a new destiny. Michael Myers is back in this terrifying sequel to Rob Zombie’s visionary re-imagining of Halloween which grossed almost $80 million worldwide. It is that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town’s got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.

Halloween II (2009) 5.5

Wow… how the mighty scary have fallen.

After Rob Zombie’s reboot of ‘Halloween’, I was convinced that the series was in great hands. Not only was Zombie on a hot streak, but he had recreated the legend in a way that made it work for this era.

Unfortunately, he went a little astray for his follow-up.

Not a little. A lot.

Fact is, not only has he distanced himself from much of what he made work in his previous outing, but he made a film that was almost as painful to watch as his first film, ‘House of 1000 Corpses’. Okay, it’s not nearly as painful, but it was really boring and unenjoyable.

Like the original sequel from 1980, this film follows-up exactly after the events of the first film. It started off decently enough, actually, because Zombie decided to do his take on the original sequel, which takes place in a hospital. He clearly did that for the fans. And then, to throw them off, he took the story in a wildly different direction.

A direction that really doesn’t work.

In this sequel, Laurie Strode has been trying to cope with the events of two years prior. She is damaged, as are the people who survived Michael Myers’ attacks. It’s entirely realistic that she would be as fractured as she is, I’ll grant Zombie this – except that she was already a character that was difficult to warm up to and now she’s taken a turn for the worse.

And, meanwhile, Michael Myers is nowhere to be found (and neither are the iconic themes by John Carpenter – something which makes HUGE difference in the tone of the film!)

How did he survive anyway? This is unexplained. And where has he gone for those two years? A simple attempt is made to shed some light on this, but it’s a superficial attempt at best, because we still don’t know how he survived the point blank shot he took in the previous instalment. We also don’t have an explanation as to why he hasn’t attacked since – the beast that we met then would have gone on a rampage at least a few hundred times.

Not so here.

In this version, he’s been wandering about the wilderness aimlessly, surviving on whatever he could find. He’s grown long hair and a wicked beard, and seems a bit muted, like a lost giant. He mostly wears a hood now, not a mask – except for some key scenes later in the film. Again, this is more realistic, but it takes away from Michael Myers’ persona.

Despite all the changes, Michael still knows how to kill rather effectively. If he’s attacked, he WILL defend himself. Except that he might wait until he’s taken a few hits before lashing back. And he grunts in doing so – a touch that takes away from the original character’s mystique. Honestly, the passionless, cold, killing machine that he was worked best for this type of film; much like not knowing what he wanted, not sensing his humanity made him scarier.

But he’s no longer the Michael Myers that we used to know

Speaking of which, they had a different kid playing the young Michael. It’s understandable, because, by then, the first kid was all grown up and could no longer play the part. But it should have been avoided altogether – I don’t think that revisiting the young Michael brought anything to the film. And if absolutely needed, Zombie could have reused footage from the previous film. It was annoying to see someone else inhabit the character so soon – that first one WAS young Michael Myers.

The characters, as a whole, really are a problem in this film. For one, there are no characters you could care about; the main ones, Dr. Loomis and Laurie Strode, were both annoying, if not irritating. The closest thing to a likeable character was the Sheriff played by Brad Dourif; as quirky as he was, he is sympathetic. And then, at best, there would be his daughter; she’s likeable, I suppose, but only moderately so.

She’s played by Danielle Harris, who had a lead role in ‘Halloween 4’ and ‘Halloween 5’, when she was but a wee little girl. This secondary role (which is a repeat performance from Zombie’s first ‘Halloween’) is a different character altogether, but it was a great coup to get her for these revamped versions of the series. Sadly, unlike the previous film, the cameos are far and few: Margot Kidder has a nice bit in the film, but that’s about it. I suppose the filmmakers put all their efforts in the first film

Actually, the film felt like a cheaper production, as though it was a half-@$$ed attempt to follow-up on the success of the last one. While there were some attempts to give it a stylish gloss, it made the film look like a terrible cross between ‘Halloween (2007)’ and a music video; it was as though Rob Zombie couldn’t make up his mind as to what kind of film that he wanted to make.

He probably chose this disjointed style to separate the film’s ‘real’ sequences from the film’s otherworldly sequences. In theory, this makes sense, because it helps the viewer to recognize Myers’ inner life and madness versus what is happening in the ‘real’ world. However, this was a huge weakness, because it was jarring and reminded me of some of the cheesier horror films of the ’80s. And, anyway, these supernatural segments were weak and incoherent. Ick.

‘Halloween II (2009)’ certainly has some sense of style, but it’s completely gutted of substance. Whereas the first film explored the psychological roots of Michael Myers’ evil, this one turns into gibberish and feels lazy all around. I think that, perhaps, exploring what had happened to Myers for two years would have been better – he had become the central figure during the last film (as opposed to Strode) and his perspective would have been preferable. Granted, it would have changed things up from the previous films in the series, but so did this one – only it did so for the worse.

It’s not that this film is any less good than the weaker ones in the series so far (‘Halloween 6’ was particularly execrable!). Beyond all the issues listed above, the biggest problem of them all is that it’s boring as H-E-L-L. Even the scary bits aren’t any fun: it’s mostly just brutality, with minor tension-building – it’s neither exciting nor particularly enjoyable.

I hate to say it, but, ‘Halloween II (2009)’ is very much a misfire on most counts.

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