Let’s not kid ourselves, Halloween 2 is a bad film. Rob Zombie has gone out of his way to make a film that focuses on all the things he loves about horror movies(blood, violence) and has done away with all of the detail and style that makes film, any type of film, entertaining to watch. Halloween 2 is devoid of scares, tension, and subtext. A great horror film preys on an a viewer’s anxieties and phobias; if you have ever been afraid of having your head stomped while taking out the trash, H2 will chill you to the bone.
H2 picks up right where the first one ended with Michael Myers dead and Laurie Strode covered in blood strolling down the street. This leads into a particularly gruesome sequence where Zombie treats us to graphic shots of faces being stitched up and dismembered hands being poked and prodded. This segues to two police officers tasked with driving Michael Myers’ body to the morgue, which is apparently located far away, in the middle of nowhere. They end up hitting a cow with their van and Zombie does not hold back on repeated shots of the driver’s bloody, mashed face. After the third pan over what was left of the cop’s face I thought, “I get it, you are correct, that is indeed gross. Send my congratulations to the special effects team. Moving on?” The collision brings Myers back to life and his first order of business is cutting off the surviving officer’s head. This is acceptable, as the cop had just been talking about having sex with corpses just moments before the accident so we don’t really care he dies. I mean, that’s why they had that sick dialogue, right? So we identify with Michael Myers? Apparently so.
Cut to Laurie Strode, injured in the hospital and clearly in bad shape. She is startled to find herself menaced by Myers who has suddenly appeared in the hospital and is hacking up nurses left and right. As a matter of fact, he stabs one nurse in the back of the head about ten times. It’s brutal and vicious. Then he remembers that he’s chasing Laurie, and there is a few minutes of cat and mouse, and then IT WAS ALL A DREAM! But wait, was the opening of the movie a dream too? No, it wasn’t, but clear storytelling isn’t a priority here.
I’ll save you some time. Halloween 2 is about Michael Myers spending a year roughing it in the woods, having some visions of his dead mother and a big white horse and deciding to go back to town to get his sister. While it appeared that he wanted to kill her in the first movie, this time, I dunno. He wants to hang out, I guess, be a family. It’s like they always used to say on Arrested Development. Laurie Strode has survived the events of the first film, but is now a mix of tortured, care free, thoughtless, and most important, badly acted. Scout Taylor-Compton might be a bad actress or the script requires her to be several things at once, none consistent or believable. Taylor-Compton’s ratty hair and tattoos are obvious shorthand for “troubled”, but her behavior never approaches anything beyond angst. Her flip flop moods are more indicative of a spoiled child than a survivor of a murder spree.
Somehow Doctor Loomis manages to survive having his eyes gouged out in Halloween the First and has turned those events into a trashy bestseller. Rob Zombie really, really hates Doctor Loomis. Now a greedy famewhore who everyone blames for Michael Myers rampage, Loomis functions away from most of the film, basically being a dick to everyone he meets as he embarks on his book tour. That he holds equal disdain for both fans of his book as well as the angry parents who try to murder him at book signings, I don’t think Rob Zombie wants us to like this character very much. I did chuckle to myself at the mental image of a young Rob Zombie watching the original Halloween and becoming angry as Doctor Loomis shoots Michael Myers out a window. Some people want to grow up and make important statements. Rob Zombie grew up write and direct a film where Doctor Loomis is an asshole and Michael Myers, he aight.
If Rob Zombie had never made The Devil’s Rejects I would probably be inclined to label him a bad filmmaker. But he did make that film so I must assume he is either slumming or figure that The Devil’s Rejects is a fluke. Halloween 2 is too much of a muddle and bares a startling resemblance to those Michael Bay horror remakes. Like all the worst horror movies, the plot is a bare shoestring on which to hang the violence. But even then, the plot often has little to nothing to do with the violence, as Michael Myers exists away from just about everybody prominent for most of the running time. And speaking of violence, sheesh. Rob Zombie goes out of his way to make it all as unpleasant as possible, making the statement, “Violence is terrible and disgusting, it is not entertaining.” Unlike the Jason and Freddy movies, hell even the Saw films, Michael Myers simply kills people in simple and inelegant ways. Which creates a Catch-22. Zombie proves his point that violence is sick and depraved and not “creative” at all and absolutely no fun to watch. Which makes his film no fun to watch. Halloween 2 critiques horror as a genre, questioning why we would want to see anyone killed, especially innocent people. It’s unfortunate for Rob Zombie that Michael Haneke made a film about this already and it is called Funny Games. Actually, he made it twice, the second time in English to spare Rob Zombie from having to read so much. Well, I’m sorry Michael Haneke, I don’t think Rob Zombie saw your movie.*
Halloween 2 ends with all the (surviving) characters showing up in one place for a big showdown. Even Doctor Loomis, who hasn’t been involved in anything worthwhile for the entire film. It should be mentioned that Doctor Loomis has a change of heart Jerry Maguire style about his dickish behavior after a traumatic talk show appearance, where he is chided by Weird Al Yankovic and Chris Hardwick. Of course, what’s more dickish than finally seeing the error of your ways after someone makes some jokes at your expense while on a low rent talk show? Did I mention Rob Zombie really hates Doctor Loomis?
The big finale involves some ghosts, Doctor Loomis taking a knife to the face(finally that guy gets what he deserves), Laurie Strode stabbing Michael Myers in the face, and then Laurie ending up in a psych ward, where she sees the same apparitions that appeared to Michael Myers. There is little to no subtlety to the finale, and Laurie’s apparent trip to the dark side is neither convincing nor that interesting. Worse, I don’t even care about this character. After two movies I can tell you she’s a girl, she went through some shit, now she crazy. I recall there being much anger and hand-wringing over the end of Hannibal by Thomas Harris, where Clarice Starling runs off with Hannibal Lecter. Based on what we knew about the character from The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling running off with Lecter made no sense. Even Ridley Scott knew it was a bad idea and changed it for the film version. Laurie Strode in Zombie’s Halloween films hasn’t even a sliver of Starling’s depth and thus her eventual turn feels like a decision made by flipping a coin, delivering a tacked on “creepy” ending in a weak attempt to send the audience out talking. I had the passing thought of nature versus nurture but that kind of discussion is entirely too complex for this film.
*As my header obviously shows, I’m a big fan of Funny Games and can fully appreciate, if not quite condone Haneke’s intent. What elevates Funny Games is Haneke’s decision to keep most of the violence off screen and generally going out of his way to deprive the audience of the kind of closure most films of its ilk would deliver. I can completely understand why someone would hate this film, but it at least has the courage of its convictions and goes out of the way to make the audience uncomfortable. Funny Games elicits a response and makes one question whether we are sadistic in our tastes or if Michael Haneke is humorless churl. Halloween 2 is like attending a lecture delivered by a blood covered idiot.