Halloween 2 (2009, Director’s Cut)

3 out of 5

Directed by: Rob Zombie

A competent slasher, if a tad indulgent in terms of what it considers its own mythology, though not a great sequel to Rob Zombie’s preceding Halloween.  However, as, I think, most have (at the very least) praised about this flick: I do like that Rob took an essentially contractually mandated project and delivered something that was wholly his own – it’s not sloppy; it’s not fan service; it’s not a remake.  It’s one of his best filmed movies, with some excellent visual ideas, though it ultimately fails – or maybe picks up the wrong tangents – to establish this version of Michael Myers as a memorable movie killer.

After a rather obvious dream fakeout sequence in which a Myers-survived Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is attacked by her masked stalker once more in hospital, we pick up two years later*, with Strode living with fellow survivor Annie (Danielle Harris) and Annie’s dad, Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif).  The Sheriff tries his best to deal with Laurie, but Annie moreso tolerates her: in the interceding time, Laurie has transformed from upbeat do-gooder into a tattooed, swearing, drinking, heavy-metal listening gal.  She frequently has nightmares – see the lead-in sequence – and intense mood swings.  This may seem to be overdoing it a bit in the character department, but as with the preceding flick, I think Zombie actually has a good ear for teenager / young adult behavior, and I bought in to the transformation, especially given the gap in time.

Meanwhile, we cut to a heavily bearded, very homeless Mr. Michael Myers, his body having disappeared from his little being-shot-in-the-head incident, and now biding his time out on some farmland, having visions of his mother, a white horse, and his child self (now played by a rather unremarkable Chase Wright Vanek) and being told by these visions that it’s time to properly induct Laurie into the family.  So back to Haddonfield Michael goes.

From thereon out the film is a bit of a mess in some regards: Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) returns, now over the moon with ego on the back of a book tour for his second, and controversial, book on Michael Myers, but Loomis’ arc feels wholly unrequired except to give room to McDowell to bring some levity and entertainment to the proceedings; Myers’ trek is not timed or geographically realized very effectively, making it seem random when we cut to him walking versus pausing to kill some folk; and Zombie can’t seem to quite nail what he wants to do with Michael in terms of psychology, fiddling with the mask concept some more, fiddling with Myers as a senseless killer some more, and the repetitive visions of his mother and kid self just feel indulgent – i.e. as a way to get some funky 70s imagery in there – and aren’t nearly as surreal as I think they’re intended to be.  The end result is that Myers becomes just another slasher, teleporting across the film’s locations, and stab happy for… reasons?  There’s also, alas, some psycho-hillbilly music nonsense in there that goes on for too long, and gives Rob time to add in some more crass jokes that I guess someone finds funny.

But there’s just as much good work done here, with some really amazingly blown out visuals that make good on Zombie’s grainy visual shtick and color schemes, and although Tyler Mane’s Myers may no longer be a particularly notable villain, he’s still visually imposing and properly unhinged when on screen, with some truly interesting sound / editing work done to try to make his rampages seem especially violent, even when the blood-letting is left unshown.  The white horse / ghost mom stuff falls flat, but Zombie brings back in (from Halloween V) the pseudo psychic connection between Laurie and Myers, and I liked how this was more subtly applied, as well as the implications this has regarding the movie’s ending, and that it sort of does bring Zombo’s H2 back into the Halloween-o-verse in its own way.

So while I think the movie ultimately confuses the mythology of the first one, it’s still a pretty good slasher, and a rather expertly made one.

*Everywhere else I see this referenced as being only a year later, but I could’ve sworn the movie described it as two, which makes a lot more sense than one.  Perhaps that’s a director’s cut difference, that I’m too lazy to verify?  Or something I completely misheard and won’t correct for the same reason…?