Director Rob Zombie's
biggest mistake in 2007's remake of "Halloween
" was in his desire to "explain" Michael Myers. Most of the narrative was spent building an unimaginative trailer trash mythology, which in turn drained off what made Myers so uniquely terrifying: the fact that he was just some suburban kid who snapped one night. The sequel
takes this bad idea a step further, digging into the psyche of our Michael to explain why he's so determined to kill his sister Laurie. Hint: He wants to bring the family together.
The original "Halloween II" (1981) picked up right where John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece left off. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is in the hospital after the previous night's attack and Michael returns for another 90 minutes of mayhem. In a nod to the predecessor, Zombie wants us thinking things will go that way until he twists the plot forward a year, but the result is that he just kind of remakes the first one ... again.
Except Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton
) has gone all goth and dark now. She's a very unpleasant, angry, foul-mouthed young woman who hasn't figured that maybe her nightmares would go away if she found a better class of friends, didn't sleep on pillowcases covered in skulls or live in what looks like Brad Pitt's house from "Fight Club."
There are plenty of killings, but not a single character you sympathize with enough to care, nor is there any suspense. Zombie knows how to frame a shot, he's got a real eye, but tension requires more than bloody effects and brutal violence. The film has an anarchist feel that's only interested in the crazy but none of the foreplay. So there are no scares, not even cheap ones. This is one horror movie in need of that screeching cat that jumps from nowhere.
What's most off-putting is not the meaty visceral gore but Zombie's focus on the suffering of his victims. Like Myers, Zombie doesn't know when to quit. The camera lingers long after we get it and to the point where your foot tap-tap-taps to 'get on with it.'
The original Dr. Loomis (played memorably by Donald Pleasance) was something of a bass-voiced, sedated Kevin McCarthy at the end of the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," the only one who knew what was going on, screaming for others to listen to him. Malcolm McDowell's
Loomis is a high-strung, high-maintenance spoiled prick pimping a book on Myers who seems to be in another movie entirely. It's all a hollow set up at a redemptive movement that only serves to undermine the good Doctor's intelligence.
What is consistently enjoyable about a Zombie film are his always interesting casting choices. He seems to be one of those directors with a real affection for character actors, who enjoys the opportunity to work with them. Richard Riehle
, Margot Kidder
, Octavia Spencer
, Howard Hessman
, "Weird Al" Yankovic
, and Daniel Roebuck
are all given a chance to make a mark in relatively small roles. And the great Brad Dourif
returns as Sheriff Brackett.
Unfortunately, these are all actors you can see in much better movies.