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Halloween II (2009)

Halloween II (2009)

Also not for the faint of heart

Halloween II digs deeper into the Myers family dysfunction as Michael seeks--through death--to reunite himself & Laurie with their mother. He believes that violence leads to reunification & that death is a respite from this wicked world of bullies & sexual objectification, an example set by his mother in suicide. This confusion between love & hate, the righteous & the profane, sits squarely in the tradition of films like Psycho & Carrie, but Zombie goes a step further by examining the trauma of Laurie (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) & Annie Bracket (played by Danielle Harris, returning from Halloween 4 & 5) in excruciating detail.

A very likable character emerges in Brad Dourif's Sheriff Bracket, who is now Laurie's foster father. He plays the caretaker role that Loomis plays in previous films. His sense of obligation stems from his involvement in placing Laurie into foster care after Deborah's suicide. And while it would be great to see much more of Annie & the sheriff in the movie, Laurie's insistence on keeping them at arm's length--a function of trauma & guilt--re-enforce the film's attitudes of brokenness, despair, & paranoia. They exist less to offer the audience sympathetic characters than to illustrate what Laurie has lost, despite their clear desire to connect to her. And so the awkward, unexplained, gleeful discord of the early scenes in Halloween I are replaced with believable rage & sadness rooted in trauma for Halloween II.

The film takes pleasure in pain & loss & violence, & the lush cinematography seems to treat tribulation as its muse. And that's precisely what makes the film so engaging, despite it's weight & nihilistic attitudes. Bones protrude, brains spill, & characters collapse & ugly cry, but always in rich & saturated handheld framing that recalls some of the greatest works of the '70s. Some of the Kubrick-esque shots that characterize Zombie's later films like Lords of Salem first appear here. And Zombie's signature formula of chaotic quick-cut action sequences followed by painfully slow stills of human wreckage communicate the experience of violence with as much urgency & intimacy as any director.

Related products

Halloween II blu-ray (Director's Cut)
Rob Zombie
Halloween I & II blu-ray (Theatrical Cuts)
Rob Zombie
Taking Shape
Dustin McNeill & Travis Mullins

Midway through the film, Laurie finds out that she's related to Michael & has a breakdown because she realizes that the massacre wasn't random & that it's not over. "I'm not me, do you understand what the fuck I'm saying? I'm Angel Myers. Michael Myers' sister." And this is the crux of the film. It's about identity & it's about fate. And it's about being born into life with connections you can't escape, no matter how many prescription drugs you take or how much alcohol you drink or how far you run. That's trauma you can't leave behind.

They're not for everyone, but the Zombie films realize something that many of the previous films didn't: that you can't tell the original story twice. So you might as well tell a different one. Whether or not it's a better story is up for debate. But it should be judged on its own merit, rather than for the ways in which it necessarily deviates from the original. For my money, the Zombie films are some of the best of the franchise.

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