One of the first of a wave of remakes meant to re-energize and re-establish otherwise played and creatively starved series, Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween was a good effort, but made a lot of the same mistakes that continue to plague the slasher genre. Now two years later, Zombie returns with Halloween II, proving that Michael Myers should have died a long, long time ago.
The refreshing distinctions that saved the 2007 film from failing completely, such as a thorough look into the childhood of Myers, which remained untouched since the pop-culture icon first started slicing up teenagers back in 1978, are completely absent from its sequel. The film starts off directly where the last one ended—and this is Zombie’s first mistake. Halloween II adopts the poorly constructed plot and laughable dialogue that made the second half of the 2007 remake so disappointing. With little briefing, we are placed in the hospital with protagonist Laurie Strode, who shot Myers in the head at the end of the last film. Unbeknownst to Strode, Michael Myers has survived (who would have guessed?) and has infiltrated the hospital looking to finish Strode off, thus beginning another 2 hours of running and hiding.
With a weak central plot, Halloween II relies on the random victims of Myers to provide the meat of the story (no pun intended). Zombie adds scenes of unimportant and unrelated killings in an obvious effort to supplement a tattered main narrative. As if it hasn’t been established enough already, Zombie emphasizes Myers’ ability to easily take down those who oppose him on numerous occasions. Myers kills six people in two separate scenes who are completely unrelated to the story, providing unsatisfying “fluff” that does the opposite of what it’s designed to do and incites boredom instead of suspense.
A “disturbing” series of dream sequences are littered throughout the film, bringing back Myers’ mother from the last movie (played by Zombie’s wife, Sheri) in an effort to add a sort of spiritualism to the film. Aesthetically reminiscent of The Unborn (2009), the sequences suggest (in a highly underdone way) that all the Myers share some sort of spiritual wholeness, thus inevitably connecting Strode, Michael’s long-lost sister, to the killer. If done correctly, this emphasis may have been slightly interesting, but instead it comes off more like a plug for Sheri Zombie’s acting career.
Halloween II also brings back Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), Myers’ lifetime psychiatrist who spends the movie traveling to different venues promoting his new book based on the life and times of Michael Myers. This final side story is the most unfocused of them all. In it, Zombie criticizes those who prey on the misfortune of others—the media sharks and publicity-seekers that use tragic events for their own profit. Although clear, the message comes as a footnote to the picture as a whole, merely providing another distraction from the lacking plot.
Following the lead of many modern-day directors who try to cram too many storylines, ideas and themes into their films, Zombie becomes bogged down with his own ambitions and ends up with multiple unsatisfying, unfinished and underdeveloped narratives in one movie. Instead of achieving a cohesive and effective message, Halloween II leaves the viewer with confusion and bewilderment. Why did he kill that guy? Was he in the first one? Where is the killer? Why are we watching this?
Despite the film’s inability to deliver a meaningful and enjoyable experience on the whole, I don’t want to completely discourage Zombie. He obviously has cinematic vision, adding some interesting stylistic compositions and artistically creative sequences to the film. In one scene, a blurring effect is added as Myers takes a victim in slow motion. The actual murder is presumed and not shoved in our faces like usual, which was both refreshing and eerily effective. Later in the film, Zombie pulls the camera back to watch Strode flee in the moonlight which overexposes the lens in a visually pleasing composition. These examples of creativity save the film from becoming an utter loss.
The slasher genre is a slowly fading trend. What was once a new and exciting statement about violence and fear is now a played shadow of its former self. Where others such as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight succeeded, the Halloween remakes fail to revitalize a fading legacy and are a clear example of how none of us, no matter how hard we try, can breath life into something that was never alive to begin with. Let’s hope Michael Myers goes the way of the slasher and dies off, once and for all.