Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Halloween 2 (2009)

As a followup to the universe Rob Zombie created in his HALLOWEEN remake, this is actually a decent film, but only in that context and completely removed from the context of the original series. Since Zombie made the clear decision to humanize Michael in his films, I liked that there was an extreme and intimate attachment in each of the killings through the repeated stabbings. He is intent on doing some serious damage to these people, revisiting the pain and anguish inflicted on him as a child by exacting it on others. Giving him a voice for the first time in the series also cements the fact that he is not the Slasher icon we all grew up with; his methods and attacks draw more from the true crime murders of our reality than the Grand Guignol spectacles in the 80s film era. The gratuitous violence and gore does become a bit much at times, but it still felt gritty and raw like in the previous installment. Neither the changes to his appearance nor his vocalization bothered me one bit, either. I also liked that Michael retreated to the background of the film, a shadow of sorts that grows more and more powerful as he slowly closes in on Laurie. This helped avoid the tedious cat and mouse that bogged down the ending of the first film. Michael also maintains a certain degree of believability in that his abilities are limited only by Tyler Mane's physical capacity. Dr. Loomis' character heads in the right direction for the way he was written in the remake, and while McDowell's role will always be overshadowed by Pleasence's iconic performance, he was much better suited as the antagonistic antihero in this second film. Scout's over the top acting is just as forgettable as it was previously, though Zombie's dramatic shift in turning her written character into a psychotic Emo chick will never be forgotten or forgiven by the hardcore HALLOWEEN fans. What I didn't like (and I am sure I speak for most fans here) was the overstated pseudo-psychology that repeatedly killed the forward momentum of the plot by trying to get into Laurie and Michael's heads and exploring the Freudian motives driving their actions through a series of distracting visuals. If you have to blatantly spell out the subtext of the film in your first shot in order for your artsy additions to make any sense, it is going to be a rocky road ahead. After a steady build that finally offered a fresh new voice to the series, Zombie really ended on an anti-climatic note that was a bit disappointing after surrendering my skepticism and giving the film a chance despite its overwhelmingly negative criticism. Overall, I felt that the film has been grossly misjudged due to the inevitable comparisons that will always be made against the original series. Rob made many of the right choices in following up his version of the character, and I truly feel it is a competent sequel to his original; as a standalone Slasher film, however, it is nothing above average, but still far from the worst I have ever seen. Remove yourself from the fact that it is called HALLOWEEN, and you might be able to enjoy it.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 1.



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5 comments:

  1. Guess you have to find something to like in his remake to like this follow up. Bleh.

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  2. Believe me, Im no strong supporter of the remake, but I had to approach it objectively as a stand alone film in order to rate it properly. In the context of other straight slashers, the remake was just OK. It would never have become the classic that the original had, and is far too distracting and visceral to be anything above average. As a followup to that film, I think Zombie made some good choices that were distinctly in line with the characters and world he created in the last film. I would never blame any of the Halloween fans for disliking this one or the previous one, but I dont think it was as bad as it has been made out to be.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Fucked up my last attempt at this comment, let's try one more time, shall we? ;) You asked for a link to my old review of this, sadly, I cannot find it - I've boiled it down to to this:

    I HATED the first remake. I thought it was artless, self-indulgent and drawn-out and chock full of cameos just for cameos' sake and pointless and dull and clumsy. That said, the sequel actually spiced things up for me by almost infinitely upping the violence quotient, and by making better use of trippy, moody visuals, which I thought worked very well with the simplistic brutality represented by the giant, angry Myers. Parts of it felt almost Argento-esque and mythical and dream-like, which was a VERRRRRY welcome change for me from the ignorant, crappy "misunderstood bratty kid becomes serial killer, *yawn*" attempt RZ made the first time out. There's a lot of far more interesting shots and moods established in Zombie's Part II, which left me with a much better taste in my mouth overall. I found myself defending this second HALLOWEEN film quite a bit upon its release, for all the good it did... and I still remain unimpressed by this current Laurie chick and put-off by the new take on Loomis. But I love the look and impact of the film and I love the surprising depth Brad Dourif's Brackett character got handed in this second go-round.

    Haven't watched the Dir's Cut all the way through yet... but the last thing I'll say is that I felt Zombie did a better job kind of making this feel like part of the series (either on purpose or accidentally) by alluding to other great moments in the franchise... i.e. the ambulance escape (Part 4), The Tower Farm party (Part 5) and the overall weird, rainy ambiance and slightly more "complicated" family dynamics of Part 6/CURSE. He may not have been trying for this, since I know most film-makers will, at least up-front, tell you how "original" they wanted to be, and will deny being influenced by the previous films in a series, whether or not that's b.s... but intentional or no, the things Zombie did here in Part II that reminded me of the old franchise I've long since adored (things which were sorely lacking in the first remake) - well, THOSE were the things that put this film over the top for me and actually let me recapture a little of the old fun again. When you get right down to specifics, my take on this one might be a bit sunnier than yours on H2 but for general purposes and arguments' sake, my overall opinion seems to be pretty much on par with yours, dude - 2009's HALLOWEEN II is by no means perfect, but certainly a big improvement over what came directly before it (i.e. the shitty remake and even shittier last sequel, RESURRECTION).

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  5. I failed too, tried going back a few months but couldnt remember how long ago you posted, but thanks for taking the time dude! I was hesitant to read it before because I was trying my hardest not to make any prejudgements. I actually meant to include a line about the small homages in the film, the one standing out most for me being the hallucination where Laurie is dressed in Michael's clown costume stooping over Annie. I agree on all points on the first film, and the only reason I give it a passing grade is by completely removing myself from my attachment to the original series and accepting it blindly as an original work. Even then, it is lucky to receive the C I gave it, and much of that is only for the raw, brutal violence and gore.

    Where I would have really liked to have seen the film go would have been to flash back to Loomis intentionally feeding Michael and driving him slowly insane, turning him into a profitable monster and then cashing in on him when he inevitably escaped. I would have loved to have seen Loomis rigging video monitors or unlocking doors to allow for his escape, and then having Michael's rage and revenge angled more towards Loomis over Laurie. This would have created an entirely different dynamic, but I would have been just as interested.

    Im so glad you did get as much of your thoughts back on paper because I knew you had been a big proponent of the film and I have been wanting to see how you reacted to it for months now. I agree on nearly all points that this film was not the disaster it was made out to be and that I rather enjoyed it as well. It definitely went in the right direction and Zombie made the right moves that he wasnt able to in the original to make this his own.

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