Halloween II (2009) Review

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Halloween 2 2009

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Malcolm McDowell as Samuel Loomis
Tyler Mane as Michael Myers
Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode
Sheri Moon Zombie as Deborah Myers
Brad Dourif as Sheriff Lee Brackett
Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett
Director: Rob Zombie

Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) is still at large and no less dangerous than ever. After failed reunion to reach his baby sister at their old home, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is immediately taken to a hospital to be treated by the wounds that had been afflicted by her brother a few hours ago. However, Michael isn’t too far off and will continue his murdering Halloween rampage until he gets his sister all to himself.

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Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween back in 2007 was pretty divisive and it remains the case to this day, some love it, some hate it, but most are mixed on it. I myself am in the latter crowd, it no doubt has some issues, but I did like some of the things that Zombie at least tried to do. One of my problems with it is that although Rob Zombie was sort of making his remake of Halloween his own, in the second half of his movie he seemed rather constrained to largely recreating a lot of the original horror classic. As messy as the first half of that remake was, it would’ve been more interesting if Zombie just stayed consistent in doing his own thing. Well it seemed I got my wish with his sequel to that movie with Halloween 2 (not in any way related to Halloween 2 from 1981). Of all the entries in long running and iconic franchises, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is among the most interesting. A departure from the Halloween movies, it goes into some different places I wasn’t expecting, and despite its issues, I liked being along for the ride.

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I watched the director’s cut because I heard that it was better than the theatrical version, and I liked what I got, so if you’re going to watch this movie then the director’s cut is probably the version you should seek out. This is the most un-Halloween-like movie in the series, and I can say this with complete confidence despite at this point only having seen Halloween 1978, Halloween 2018, and the first Rob Zombie Halloween. If you didn’t like the idea of Rob Zombie’s take on Michael Myers, you’re probably going to have a lot of issues with this movie. You might enjoy the movie up to the time jump, which takes place in a hospital, but after that it goes in a completely different direction than a standard Halloween (2007) sequel. It really is the aftermath of the first Rob Zombie Halloween, with Laurie Strode dealing with the impact of the last film, Dr Loomis who is capitalizing on those events with a book, and Michael Myers continuing his long search for Laurie while having visions of his dead mother and a white horse. This is definitely Zombie’s own movie, and even if it doesn’t fully succeed, I can’t help but admire the dedication for going in this direction. I did mention earlier about Michael Myers having visions of a white horse, which is an indication that Halloween 2 is a rather strange movie with some very weird choices, and within the first third of the movie you can figure out whether its your thing or not. People have also called the symbolism and the white horse parts a little pretentious and while I can’t disagree, at least Zombie is trying to go for something different. My issue was more that the white horse and visions tonally doesn’t mix with how grounded they present Laurie’s trauma, especially considering that the first movie seemed to have Michael Myers more as a serial killer than a supernatural presence. Also with regards to the story, I was more invested than I thought I would be, but like the Michael Myers origin story in the first half of Halloween 2007, some of the dialogue written kind of deflates the significance of some dramatic scenes. For example, when Laurie makes a discovery about herself and has a big reaction to it, she just screams “FUCK” like 10 times while in a car, and it’s just rather hard to take seriously. To be fair though, Zombie’s handling of Laurie’s storyline was a little more nuanced than I thought it would be. It’s not really much of a slasher movie until the third act, you must know that going in. Slight spoiler but while Michael Myers is trying to find Laurie throughout, it’s a while before he even gets to her, for the most part he’s a hobo who occasionally kills people. It’s just following these characters doing their own thing until the climax. For whatever reason it worked for me.

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Tyler Mane returns to play adult Michael Myers, and he is great, of course in the scenes where he kills people he really is a force of nature, but his mere presence in a scene is intimidating and haunting. Brad Dourif as the sheriff gets more scenes than in the first movie, and he’s quite good, particularly great in the last act. Malcolm McDowell was in good in the first movie as Dr Loomis, and this time Loomis is more like what you’d expect from a character played by McDowell. His character has grown rather selfish and egotistical ever since he started profiting off Michael Myers’s murders, and while I’m not entirely on board with what they did with him, McDowell absolutely sells it and gives another solid performance.

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Once again you feel Rob Zombie’s presence all over this, and like the story, it’s even more his movie. It’s even more grim, more so than Halloween 2007. Visually it’s great, that grainy 16mm really added a lot and fit the tone and rest of the direction perfectly. The violence in Zombie’s first Halloween was pretty graphic but here it’s ramped up to being even more over the top, to the point of hilarity and absurdity at points. In the aforementioned hospital scene, the moment where Michael Myers gratuitously stabs a nurse played by future Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is just so overblown, that it had to be intentionally darkly comedic. Brian Tyler’s score is pretty good (albeit rather standard horror music), but it is weird how the first movie had issues of placing the main Halloween theme in inappropriate scenes, whereas here you don’t hear the main theme until the end. It’s mostly its own thing, and that certainly fits in with the rest of the movie.

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Halloween 2 is very much not for everyone, even more the case than the previous movie. It’s imperfect for sure, but much of Zombie’s direction, the different choice for the story, as well as some of the acting was enough to keep me on board throughout. The thing is that it’s not really a slasher movie, it’s an arthouse movie (or at least an attempt at one) using the characters from a Halloween movie, and so its stuck trying to be a slasher movie at certain points. I get the feeling that it would have been better if Zombie just made the film its own thing with his own characters and not being constrained at that, it’s not like you can make an argument that he’s elevating the source material or something. I will say that if you thought Rob Zombie didn’t go full out and was stuck with the recreation of the original movie, give this one a try (try to watch the director’s cut). However I can completely see why plenty of people strongly dislike this movie.

3 thoughts on “Halloween II (2009) Review

  1. Pingback: Halloween Movies Ranked | The Cinema Critic

  2. BM

    I left this film after seeing it in the theatre with mixed feelings. It is certainly, from a technical standpoint, very well made from top to bottom. Lighting and cinematography are top notch (*two strong characteristics of Zombie’s film career to date), music and score are on point. Effects are almost too realistic in some scenes. The aftermath of trauma and its effect on various characters was done well, but also felt out of place at the same time for a Halloween movie, if that makes sense. I felt that the creepiest and most unsettling parts of the movie were Myers’ dreams/visions of his mother. Very eerie, filled with all sorts of dissociative imagery indicating the shifts in Michael’s rather chaotic neural patterns. But again, they felt out of place too. An interesting take on the material to be sure, but deconstructing Michael Myers while affording him more definition ultimately sabotages both of Zombie’s Halloween films. The boogeyman is never supposed to be viewed as a real person.

    Reply

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