The characters seemed somewhat familiar, and I know I’ve seen that mask before.
But is it really “Halloween?”
Rob Zombie’s “I swear one “Halloween” is all I’m doing and I will not do a sequel” follow-up to 2007’s “Halloween” remake is, yep, the sequel to that very same film, with Michael Myers living up to the hilljack mountain man roots he was destined to, wearing a beard that makes him look very much like his re-creator under what was left a scraggly mess of a mask.
The story picks up at about the midpoint of the first film, with Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie) talking with little Mikey (Chase Vanek) about a dream he had involving a white horse and Mommy looking like a ghost.
Flash forward to the night of the killings, then quickly to a year later (at least I think we start the night of the killings, because there’s what ends up being a rather detailed, lengthy, and POV-violating dream sequence mixed in for good measure, so it’s hard to know what was story and what wasn’t).
So…where were we again? Yes…one year later. Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) is muddling through life, living with her best friend/fellow survivor Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Annie’s father Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif, working his tail off), trying to deal with the aftermath of the previous Halloween.
Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), meanwhile, has written a book based on Myers’ rampage and is crassly cashing in on the whole deal. His big character arc is getting berated by fans and readers, going on a talk show and having Weird Al Yankovic trash-talk him, before finally hopping back into the Myers escapade.
Meanwhile, Michael has been doing…something, I’d assume, other than growing his beard. Apparently he gets his kicks hassling some rednecks, loitering on their property until they decide to beat some sense into him, coincidentally just a day before Halloween. You think Mike sweats them?
In between, Mike’s been taking up with something of a spectral image of mommy, who, yes, leads around a white horse along with a younger version of Michael himself. Deborah’s ghost holds Michael back for some unstated reason, waiting until Halloween to unleash him. Later, they help Michael in his rampage, at one point holding a potential victim (to reveal more would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say it’s only slightly less ridiculous than it sounds).
Zombie’s greatest sins are in spoiling his main characters as he attempts again to redefine them after their initial encounter with The Shape. Gone are the good-girl Laurie and the you’re-only-crazy-if-you’re-wrong heroic Loomis, replaced by a sullen wildchild and a self-aggrandizing, arrogant prick.
The violence is, if possible, more brutal than the first go-round, with added gore shots and queasy hospital stitching shots and wounds that swell as they are inflicted, inflicted with quick, hard slashes and desperate, unrelenting knife shots that are equal parts stab and bludgeon.
Rob Zombie is not without skills as a filmmaker. He does know how to shoot a film, but his writing and plotting, while complex, is overly reliant on heavy-handed metaphor that has run rampant in all of his films (yes, even “The Devil’s Rejects,” which many fans cite as his lone really good film. I do not). His accompanying imagery is suitably disturbing, but wholly out of place in a slasher film like this, and his ham-handed efforts at making Michael Myers some sort of white-trash intellectual is horribly misguided, demystifying and just bad on so many levels.
His opening sequence (and the pre-credits definition of “White Horse” as a psychological metaphor) zooms past the threshold of pretentiousness and keeps the gas to the floor to until the film’s final image, which apes the middle entries of the “Friday the 13th” series and is neither surprising nor remotely interesting.
“Halloween II” does do one interesting thing: it makes me long for the days of Busta Rhymes karate-chopping “Mikey” Myers.
Rating: 1 Yap