January 21, 2010

My Review: Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2

"I know he's not gonna come back just because of some stupid holiday..."-Laurie Strode
"What a fuckin' horrible film." - Myself.

Years ago, Rob Zombie delivered his vision of the Halloween franchise; it was a project greeted with almost universal animosity, as many (included yours truly) felt that his style wasn't fit for the popular horror series. This ended up being the case, as the film was a complete mess all the way around: the script was weak and lacked direction, the film was incompetently lensed, and there was ultimately very little redeeming value. The only silver lining was the fact that Zombie himself claimed he wouldn't return to do a sequel, which would hopefully leave the franchise with someone better suited for the material. Of course, this didn't end up happening at all, as Rob Zombie's Halloween II was announced late last year, igniting an internet firestorm whose flames were fanned at every turn as news about the project began to leak. A hobo, unmasked Myers taking orders from an undead Sherri Moon Zombie, Laurie Strode being infected with Zombie's trailer trash bug, and a mysterious white horse had filled horror headlines for months.

I went into this movie, praying that I would come out liking it. Sadly, that was not the case. Now, I might bitch a lot about some things in RZH. I'm a die hard fan of the original, and nothing will change that, so of course I was hesitant when a remake was announced. However, I welcomed the thought of change. I was never happy with most of the sequels, and felt that the series got boring and stale at the end. Not to mention that I think Halloween: Resurrection was the worst piece of shit.

Walking out of the theater, I could ultimately decide how I felt about the film. This was one of the most frustrating films I have ever seen.

Frustrating in the sense that I'm, at heart, a die hard Halloween fan. I may bitch about the sequels a lot, but they sit proudly on my shelf (including Resurrection, haha). Frustrating that this could very well be the last Halloween film we see for a long time. Frustrating that this film had a good concept, but poor, poor execution.

The plot of Halloween II at its core is pretty much the same as many of the sequels: Michael's back in town and looking to kill off a relative. To be clear, this definitely not a remake of the original Halloween II, as the only similarity between the two is a nightmare sequence set in a hospital at the beginning of the scene. In a way, it's almost the opposite of Zombie's original film in that he gets the familiar elements out of the way first before moving on the completely new material. Unfortunately, the nightmare sequence at the beginning of the film is probably the film's high point, as it's a fairly well done stalk and slash sequence that's unburdened by all the unnecessary plot elements that follow.

I don't care for explaining Myers's psychosis, whether it be a crummy childhood or pagan curses. Myers works best when he's just a walking avatar for pure evil with no sense of humanity whatsoever; reducing him to a child in a man's body as Zombie does represents the ultimate removal from what the character essentially is. Plus, it would seem that Zombie got his wires crossed--as if Myers bursting through doors and otherwise hulking around wasn't enough like Jason Voorhees, Zombie basically reduces him to a mama's boy in the vein of the famous Friday the 13th anti-hero.

His visions just do not work well at all. They essentially feel like waking dreams that follow Myers around, and it's a very awkward and hokey way to convey what's going on in his mind. It lacks any sort of subtlety and exposes Michael's humanity even further; in fact, the film's opening screen provides a written explanation for the significance of the horse itself, and it comes off as if Zombie is over-explaining things and spoon-feeding the audience. I understand what he was going for here, but the execution is very poor. Plus, the character as presented here truly runs counter to Zombie's aim to ground the series in reality, as we never get an explanation for how he survived multiple gunshots (including one to the head), nor do we know how he recognizes Laurie as his sister. To top it all off, a psychic bond seems to form between brother and sister, with the latter actually sharing the former's visions, which is just one of a few ways that Zombie borrows from the previous Halloween sequels he claims to dislike.

The opening of the film was fairly strong. I liked where this was heading. It wasn't until halfway through the van crash, that I started to grow weary. When Michael sees the hallucination of his mother and white horse, I was like "Oh god, no..." The shot where he walks up to them just seemed awkward. When we get to the hospital, the film starts to pick up again. This was a pretty brutal and unrelenting sequence that I found to be the strongest point in the film. Then we find out it was all a dream. This is where the film just goes on a downward slope.

Laurie is a mess after what she went through in the last film. Scout's performance is still still pretty bad. She was just annoying and highly obnoxious throughout the whole thing. I really had no sympathy. I really think Rob Zombie's weakest point is his writing abilities. He seriously needs to consider having someone rewrite his material. "This girl is too coolio for schoolio." It doesn't work. I just didn't buy into her character at all. Her friends were just terrible, and underdeveloped. They came off as characters you'd find in a Friday the 13th film.

Which leads to another complaint I have. This film felt more like a Friday the 13th film than a Halloween film. I'm all for different, but this was a perfect example of how different isn't always better. The characters were very uninteresting, and were only there to be killed off by Michael (which he does a lot of, by the way). Rob Zombie says he doesn't like the Friday the 13th series, but this film shows otherwise.

Also, what the fuck was with Laurie seeing the visions of Deborah and little Mikey? It made zero sense. There was nothing to insinuate that she shared a psychic bond with Michael. It was an unnecessary, and distracting plot hole.

Sheri Moon Zombie and whoever the new little Michael is, were godawful. Another moment in which I couldn't stomach was when Michael goes to the barn, and sees his mother with the white horse, and she says the "time to bring us home" (or something to that effect) line, and little Michael responds. I understand that these were supposed to be deranged visions that Michael had, and they were supposed to be caricatures of Deborah and Little Michael, but that acting was atrocious.

Malcolm McDowell was an asshole in this. He's just a fucking prick, and really served no purpose in this film other than to be killed off by Michael. His death was actually one of the moments where I was HAPPY to see a character die, simply because it was terribly used and written, and nothing like the classic Loomis I know.

There's also a huge problem with the Loomis character. Many will no doubt dislike his sleazy nature, but the even bigger problem here is that he has absolutely no relevance to the story whatsoever besides serving as a running punchline throughout the film. While he's no doubt unfairly accused of being responsible for Michael's reign of terror, it's hard to feel sympathy for a guy that's this sleazy; however, the character could be justified if he ever contributed anything to the film, which he doesn't. In fact, he's largely removed from the main storyline until the very end. Thankfully Brad Dourif is around once again as Sheriff Bracket, who ends up feeling more like Loomis than Loomis himself does. Without a doubt, Dourif is the heart of the film and actually provides someone to root for. It's too bad that the entire movie couldn't be a Dourif vs. Myers showdown because the other lone bright spot from the original film, Scout Taylor-Compton's Laurie Strode, is almost unrecognizable and feels like another one of Zombie's trashy cliches. While the character has some decent moments and manages to elicit a bit of sympathy, she ultimately feels lost in all the chaos. Zombie has already commented that his director's cut will flesh out Laurie and make the film even more about her, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

I was happy to see that Danielle Harris got a lot of screen time. Brad Dourif put in a pretty good performance. I'm trying to figure out who was more pointless in the overall scheme of things: Loomis or Annie. At least Annie's death resulted in an uber-pissed Dourif.

Unfortunately, the ending sets up for a possible sequel.

My Rating: 3/10

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