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Slasher Review – Halloween II

Written by Josh Brewer, September 23, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title: Halloween II
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Release Date: August 28, 2009
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif

Halloween II Cliff’s Notes

Michael made it out of the previous entry (duh) and takes a year off to work on his tan. Meanwhile, Laurie, Annie, and the rest of Haddonfield do their best to recover, with various amounts of success. Luckily, Halloween is right around the corner…

Lecture

Halloween II picks up right where Rob Zombie left off, but the result shines in comparison to its predecessor. Here, Zombie embraces the world that he circled around in the first outing. The result is a more interesting, focused piece of film. He finally focuses on Laurie and her friends – an aspect sorely missed in Rob Zombie’s Halloween – and the result is what Halloween is all about. Michael is out to take down his family and Laurie is the last step remaining.

Zombie also manages to connect a number of awesome franchise bits into his film. The hospital scene is well done and a great throw back to Halloween 2. It also serves as a kind of breaking point that fully separates the original series and the re-boot. From that point on, the flick is stronger, smarter, and just more original. Zombie embraces a less literal style of storytelling that works really well with the content he’s got here.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Zombie still struggles with composing characters that have levels and most of the work is left to the actors. Here, it actually comes off better because Laurie and company have the entire flick to work as opposed to forty minutes. Likewise, Zombie’s white-trash set up feels tired and over explored. Lastly, Halloween II has a tendency to get lost in subplots that only serve to set up scared – I’ve just learned something terrible… house party?- that weaken the overall narrative. This puppy needs to be tighter.

Acting

Taylor-Compton is given the entire film to build her character, something that was severely lacking in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, and the result speaks volumes about what she can actually do.

She gives a credible show and didn’t get on my nerves at all. Harris is, again, super solid in her supporting role. McDowell and Moon Zombie are also good, but the script takes their characters in ways that don’t let them be as efficient as they were in the first installment. The change in Loomis drives the character in a direction that I didn’t love. Dourif stands out with a focused, occasionally raw, display. Nice job!

Directing

Zombie gets to go wild with filters, angles, and all kinds of fantasy vibes. More than one of his images drip style right off the screen. Furthermore, his pacing flows a lot better here, probably because the first half of his story isn’t dominated by a flashback. Alas, he still buries his story in white trash land, a habit that doesn’t always pay dividends. Here, while it works occasionally, it struggles to be cohesive.

Script

Zombie is up to his old tricks again, which leads to more of the same in terms of tone and content. Here, he gives the entire story to Laurie and her attempts to survive the holiday. The result is much more cohesive than the previous entry. Oh, and the hospital throwback rocks.

Effects

Myers paints the town red in this one! The flick boasts a slew of fun stabbings, a severed head, beatings galore, and more than one impaling. What’s more, the effects really do a great job in highlighting some of the heavy hitting character moments. Zombie and crew knock this one out of the park. No trouble with that!

Highlights

I really love the Halloween 2 throwback. It’s just inspired enough to recreate the feeling of the first sequel and then takes the whole thing in a new and interesting direction.

Lowlights

Halloween II still falls into Zombie’s trap of reducing elements down to the most base part of their being. Here, it’s a touch more toned down, but the entire flick still reeks of trailer park every now and again. We need a new song!

Halloween-iness

Definitely more in line with the content of the rest of the series. Zombie still owns his style, which is very different from the rest of the series, but here it’s attached to a more original story that fits into the rest of the series in a much more cohesive way. Also, Mr. Myers spends his time killing folks.

Final Thoughts  

For better or worse, and it’s usually better, this is a much more honest take of what Rob Zombie’s ideas of Halloween are all about. Sure, the film strays in terms of tone and plot every so often; however, most of the time Halloween II rocks in a way that it’s predecessor never could.  

Grade: C+

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