The thing about praising Rob Zombie’s Halloween is that you’re then contractually obligated to talk about the 2009 sequel, Halloween II. While I certainly don’t have any trouble defending the first film, Halloween II is about as big a mess as I’ve ever seen.
Much like the sequel to the original film, Halloween II opens with Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) being stalked in the hospital by her murderous older brother, Michael (Tyler Mane). And the hospital scenes are actually pretty good. Zombie makes good use of Nights in White Satin and the scenes of Michael chasing Laurie are genuinely suspenseful.
However, the film then jumps a year into the future and it’s all kind of annoying. Halloween II follows three separate storylines, all of which converge at the rushed conclusion.
My favorite storyline dealt with Dr. Loomis (again played by the brilliant Malcolm McDowell). Loomis has written a book about Michael and is now traveling the country, promoting himself as a true crime expert and dealing with people who think that he’s exploiting the whole tragedy for a quick buck. McDowell is perfect in these scenes, playing Dr. Loomis as a pompous man who secretly knows that he’s a fraud. “I was as much a victim as anyone,” he occasionally sputters. Perhaps the highlight of the film comes when he’s interviewed by a rather sarcastic Chris Hardwick and finds himself being ridiculed by Weird Al Yankovic (playing himself).
The second storyline features Annie (Danielle Harris) and Laurie struggling to get on with their lives. Laurie is now living with Annie and her father (Brad Dourif). As opposed to the virginal Laurie of the first Halloween, this Laurie is pissed off and out of control. On the one hand, I think Zombie deserves some credit for trying to deal with the PTSD that would obviously be the result of surviving being attacked by Michael Myers. On the other hand, to say that Laurie is never not pissed off would be an understatement. Scout Taylor-Compton does a good job playing her but, in Halloween II, a little Laurie Strode goes a long way. You can only watch someone rage at the world for so long before it starts to get boring.
And the third storyline, not surprisingly, is Michael still trying to track down and kill his sister. Michael continually sees visions of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie), occasionally accompanied by a white horse, telling him, “It’s time.” (Eventually, Laurie starts to see the same thing.) Usually, if you come across someone online criticizing Halloween II, one of the first things that they’ll mention will be that white horse. To be honest, the white horse didn’t both me. I actually appreciated the surreal touch of Sheri Moon Zombie and a white horse appearing out of nowhere. But still, as opposed to first film, Michael is just boring in this film. The first film was memorable because it took the time to explore why Michael became who he became. In Halloween II, Michael’s just another killer in a mask. Leslie Vernon would have kicked his ass.
So, no, Halloween II does not really work. The story is too messy and, with the exception of Dr. Loomis, none of the characters are particularly interesting. I still stand by my claim that Rob Zombie is an underrated director but Halloween II is a definite misfire.