RETRO REVIEW: Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009) is the sequel to Rob Zombie’s remake of the classic film, and follows Laurie Strode after the events of Halloween the year before. She’s in therapy, attempting to recover, and Michael is still out there waiting for Halloween to come back around so he can kill again. I hate this film. I can’t stand it. I’ve been dreading rewatching it since the beginning of this review series, but here we are.

Scout Taylor Compton is awful in this movie. She comes across like someone throwing a temper tantrum throughout the majority of the runtime of this film. Danielle Harris is good as Annie, but she doesn’t get as much screen-time as I’d have liked. Brad Dourif is great as Sheriff Bracket, coming in as the standout of the film. Tyler Mane returns as Michael Myers, and he’s fine. He’s just as physically imposing as he was in the first film, but every time he kills someone, he grunts loudly now and it takes me out of the movie instantly. Michael Myers has been silent for nearly forty years, and that made him scarier. This is just comical. Malcolm McDowell’s Loomis is terrible on a writing level and McDowell’s performance is grating. Laurie’s new friends are hollow shells to be perforated by Michael. Sheri Moon Zombie is in the film, because God Forbid we have a Rob Zombie film without his wife. She is awful, decked out in a white dress appearing ghostly with a white horse. Her delivery is so bland and any creep factor she might have brought is removed when you try to decipher what the hell the point of her inclusion is at all.

Rob Zombie's Halloween II

The writing for this movie is atrocious. The basic story follows a Halloween template: Michael returns to Haddonfield to kill again. The other aspects take it to a lower level. The scenes of Laurie in therapy or her freakouts range from boring to comical. During the course of the film, they try and implement this mental connection between Michael and Laurie and just come across hokey. The first film went for a more gritty and realistic approach with no supernatural DNA at all. I don’t need to be spoon-fed exposition, but this is a pretty drastic shift that just goes unexplained. Furthermore, there is introduced a B-story following Sam Loomis on his book tour. Yes, Loomis wrote a book during the course of the first two acts of the previous film. There, he wrote his book and seemed to still care about what was going on around him, whereas in this film, he repeatedly illustrates that he is nothing but a money grubbing jerk profiteering off of death. The franchise successfully turns one of the best heroes in all of horror cinema into one of the most unlikable characters I have ever seen in a movie. This guy isn’t Samuel Loomis, plain and simple. Finally, let’s also talk about Zombie’s sense of “humor.” The beginning of this movie features dialogue between two characters about having sex with dead bodies. That is disgusting enough, and honestly reprehensible, but lets take it a step forward and have the body be Lynda’s, who is only sixteen or seventeen. So, in the end, it is a conversation about sleeping with an underaged girl’s dead body. This is sickening dialogue, and the fact that the studio read this and said “yes, let’s shoot this” is honestly loathsome.

The musical score by Tyler Bates is one of the only good things in this movie. In a movie that was better directed, acted, and written, it would really have ratcheted the tension up. Listening to it separately is still really enjoyable. His slightly different rendition of the Halloween theme is really good, but it isn’t really heard in the movie. The rest of the score is well done, and I found myself listening to the music rather than the dialogue at times, just to drown it out.

Rob Zombie's Halloween II

This movie is extremely badly paced. Twenty minutes could be shaved off easily, resulting in a better movie. The existing runtime is about two hours, and it feels double that length to me. The cinematography continues the trend set by the first film. It is gritty, handheld, and looks positively ugly. There are a couple of really good shots. However, pairing that with this nasty muddy color palate and you get one of the nastiest looking movies I’ve ever seen. It feels like a movie that’s trying to be grungy, rather than a movie that is grungy. As with the first film, most of the time when anything violent happens, the camera shakes so violently that it is tough to see what is going on. At the same time, maybe you don’t want to see what is going on.

As far as kills are concerned, this movie is needlessly violent and gory. It is actually at an excessive level, such as in the opening when Michael saws a mans head off with a chunk of glass. It is an elongated sequence featuring closeups of the sawing and the victim’s pained face. It is far too much. I am not a squeamish person, and gore in movies doesn’t bother me. I wasn’t scared by it. Honestly, I was moreso annoyed by the gore. Halloween II (2009) is easily the most violent and graphic of the franchise, and it doesn’t help the movie, it actually worsens it. The other kills in the movie include vicious and excessive stabbing, impaling, curb-stomping, head smashing, and shooting. There isn’t a shred of violence in this movie that is inventive or scary.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009) is an excruciatingly bad movie to sit through. It is rife with bad acting, deplorable writing, mostly ugly cinematography, and an absolutely horrible ending. It has a good musical score, a great performance from both Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris, and a couple of good looking shots, but those feel meaningless within the context of all the other garbage around them. Skip it.

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