Halloween II: Unrated Director's Cut
|Directed by: Rob Zombie
||Running Time: 119min
Cast : Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Malcolm McDowell, Danielle Harris, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Chase Wright Vanek.
I like the idea of an emotionally imbalanced Laurie Strode slowly descending into madness after the events of Halloween (2007); however, somewhere along the way, she just stops being sympathetic.
It is nice to see Danielle Harris who starred in Halloween 4&5 return to the franchise playing Annie Brackett after Halloween 6 raped her character and H20 ignored her entirely.
This movie is so damn fragmented with threads going every which way, there's really not enough time spent with the Bracketts and Laurie. You know, the protagonists.
Review by Jay Wilson
“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you.”
— Don Marquis
And with a bit of interpretation, extrapolation, so goes my thoughts towards Rob Zombie’s reboot of Halloween. In the great film Jaws and Alien, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott kept their monsters off screen and in the dark for an inhuman length of time before giving tiny glimpses. With the original 1978 Halloween, John Carpenter likewise kept much of his psychopath’s motivation in the shadows, and the only explanation the audience received were the frantic near-incoherent ramblings of Doctor Sam Loomis that Michael was not human, but evil itself. Thus, Carpenter delivered a surreal cinematic nightmare given flesh, forever tucked just out of sight under the mask of Michael Myers.
Zombie, by contrast, requires every inch of his films to be literal, as if completely incapable of grasping anything not explicitly written out and/or shown on screen. Carpenter was content just showing us a POV shot of Michael murdering his sister in the famous opening of Halloween; we briefly see Michael’s parents in shock—just long enough to note how normal, innocent, and harmless they all look; in the 2007 remake, Rob Zombie goes on and on with Michael’s white trash stripper mother, his abusive white trash father, and his neglecting white trash whore of a sister. Why does Michael kill? The 1978 original hands that question over to the audience to dwell on long after the closing credits. Zombie not only provides the dots and extra bold sharpie, but proceeds to connect them for his audience, thus they really don’t have to think about ... anything, really.
But we can think we’re thinking. Audiences love to take pre-chewed and pre-digested material and convince themselves they drove from point A to point B to reach conclusion C on its own, nevermind it being force fed and spelled out in the most obvious idiot proof terms. Why do you think they go to see the exact same formulaic movies year after year after year?
Halloween II (2009) goes even further than its predecessor. Now, in addition to the first movie’s fifteen minute white-trash prologue sequence explaining Michael’s tormented childhood, now Zombie gives us glimpses into the delusional mindset of Myers. His mother in a flowing white gown appears in fantasy sequences scattered throughout the movie along with visions of a young Michael, and let’s not forget the white horse that also shows up. Sounds like a surreal sequence, right? Sure, but that surreal sequence represents a literal interpretation of adult Michael’s mindset. Oh, and young Michael speaks in these sequences so adult Michael—who has no voice in the Carpenter original—has one now. Why does Michael kill? Young phantom Michael often asks his phantom mom when they can be a family again. She answers that he needs to kill people.
I applaud Rob Zombie for showing an unmasked Michael Myers when he's not killing. A guy walking around in a mask all the time has always struck me as silly.
... but, of course, it's not Halloween without the mask and jump suit.
In Zombie's Halloween 1, Michael breaks through walls like he's the Juggernaut. In this one he picks up a car.
We haven’t had this level of symbolic “depth” since the Matrix sequels.
And unfortunately, the obsessive focus on literalism opens up pandora’s box. The nice thing about the surreal nightmare of the Carpenter movie, is that it grants a degree of immunity from logic. Why doesn’t Michael go on his killing spree when he first shows up in Haddonfield? Why does he stalk Laurie Strode all day long before going after her and her fellow babysitters? We don’t know what’s going through Michael’s mind; we don’t know his motivation, and so it’s easier to bypass these questions. But when you plant the flag of “realism” and insist on explaining in painfully explicit detail, it opens up questions like, “why didn’t Michael just go on a rampage at phantomjam and kill Laurie then and there? You know, right after he got done killing Laurie’s friend in the parking lot?” How about, “why did Michael wait two years before going after Laurie again?” And, “how did Michael know exactly two years to the day had passed before he went psycho again?”
If you make a promise, you better damn sure follow through. Both Zombie Halloweens promise a more “real” experience—they want to explain—but not really. I’m down with a movie that wants to go the “real” and “literal” route, but none of them ever follow through. They just delude themselves with explanations that don’t explain for people who want to think they’re thinking without actually thinking.
My other complaint with Halloween II is it really doesn’t do anything. The opening minutes of Halloween II show Annie Brackett and Sam Loomis (both killed in the theatrical release of the first film) miraculously rescued which completely erases the tragedy of their deaths (not unlike the insultingly stupid final moments of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, I might add) because now when we go back and see them “die” in the 2007 remake we know Rob Zombie is just kidding.
From there, Zombie takes Laurie Strode through a lengthy stalking sequence in the hospital not unlike the 1981 Halloween II. And then after ten minutes of running, screaming, hiding, Zombie reveals at the critical moment it was all just a dream, I’m guessing, in an attempt to juggle paying homage to the previous Halloween II before going off and doing his own thing; however, I can’t help but feel like he’s wasted twenty minutes of my time telling me two deaths in Halloween (2007) didn’t count and, by the way, neither does the beginning of this movie.
Rob, I understand the desire to not be a carbon copy retread, but you know what you could have done to really be different? Let Loomis stay dead and not bring him back, period.
Jump to two years later and Laurie, survivor and protagonist of the first movie, has understandably been traumatized by her run in with Michael Myers which makes perfect sense. I’m all for that. But in the hands of an obsessive literalist, that translates to Laurie bouncing back and forth between relentless whiny crybaby and alcoholic overmedicated psychotic bitch. Like I said, nothing can be implied; it must be expressly explicitly driven home with a sledgehammer. No layers, no subtlety, no implications. At one point Laurie literally holds up a beer and declares, “it’s my new best friend.”
Laurie, a lone survivor, by herself with no one to understand what she went through might have remained sympathetic despite her dramatic dark turn, but all things are relative. And juxtaposed to Annie Brackett, whom Zombie went out of his way to bring back, whom was sliced up far worse than Laurie, she knows exactly what Laurie went through. And we see Annie not only keeps it together, not only does she put up with her now overprotective paranoid father, but she also finds the strength to put up with Laurie’s BS. If Annie can carry the burden of her run in with Myers, if she can constantly put up with two over emotional persons; Laurie can deal with her issues (but she doesn’t.)
So to hell with Laurie.
Funny story: I actually had another screen picked out showing Laurie and her (new) friend Mya in costume for Phantomjam, but then I noticed it had R rated material in the background.
Laurie has new friends—better friends than Annie who understand her ... never mind not having a near death experience. She hangs out with this new crew whom we barely meet before providing fodder for Michael to cut through (that is if he ever stops killing seemingly random people on the side and gets back to Haddonfield), and now her old best friend, Annie, exists pretty much to stay at home, be the adult, and take care of the other two traumatized people in the household.
And where is Loomis? Like Laurie, he’s coping with the events of Halloween 1 in his own childish over the top fashion, running around on a publicity-whoring book tour, shamelessly chasing after fame and fortune in an effort to forget and/or distract himself from what happened and, in the process, rendering himself completely and totally irrelevant to the story at hand. Pretty much every time we jump to Loomis, he’s at a conference taking questions, at a book signing, on a talk show sitting next to Weird Al, in a limo or expensive hotel. Most of his scenes felt like a VH1 “where are they now” fashion segment that is cute to know but no one really cares about. By the time his character finally gets threaded back into the main narrative it’s too little far too late.
For the most part, I like the content of this scene, but I hate the frame. Apparently these survivors of unspeakable trauma eat dinner at 2AM in the dark.
It's strange that the character hurt the most in the first film has to be the emotional anchor for all the characters in this one.
The end of the movie shows Annie dying (again), Loomis dying (again), and Michael dying (again), and I’m left wondering what the hell was the point? Not only do Annie and Loomis die a second time, but again it’s at Michael’s hands. Slasher sequels are infamous for being retreads, but this one literally repeats the previous film with the exact same characters. To make matters worse, throughout the movie we see more of Laurie’s nightmares—one of which has her killing Annie the same way Michael killed his father in Halloween (2007). Rob Zombie had a great opportunity to really show Laurie descend into madness: she could have actually killed Annie (and Loomis). By the end of the film, Laurie completely succumbs to insanity anyway.
However passing the knife from Michael to Laurie mid-film would have been genuinely different, but Halloween II really doesn’t want to do anything differently. It really doesn’t want to explain. And it really doesn’t want to think. All it’s interested in doing is engaging in a fantasy where it delivers all of the above. It wants to think it’s doing something, but it isn’t.