Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween II (2009)

So we end this month returning to the series where we began, Halloween. I saw the sequel to the original Halloween on the same night, kind of a marathon and let me tell you, Halloween II (1981) was shocking, brutal, cringe-worthy and a satisfying ending to the story of Michael Myers. The story takes place in a hospital on the same evening as the original and once again Michael is after young Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) only this time most of the action takes place in a hospital, rather that in a suburban neighbourhood.

The 2009 reimagined sequel, is sort of both a sequel to a reimagining of the 1978 classic as well as a partial reimagining of the 1981 original sequel. The first twenty minutes of the film play out just like the original sequel; Laurie is taken to a hospital, Michael isn’t nearly as dead as we thought he was and some pretty horrific deaths occur (for those who don’t appreciate gross-out killings, stay with the 1978 classic, as the ’81 sequel gets pretty gruesome). Then it all turns out to be a dream sequence and we find that two years have gone by since the original film.

This is pretty much where the film starts to slide into really bad movie territory.

All right, here are the two good things about the film:
1) Brad Dourif plays Sheriff Lee Brackett in a performance that is far too good for this film – seriously, the character is a great dad in a horrible situation and the acting is some of the best I’ve seen in horror films of the last few years.
2) The strange imagery of Michael’s mother and a white horse (while terribly over-played) is pretty striking and an interesting contrast to the violence of the murder scenes.

Rather than do a list of the bad (and believe me, it would be quite a list), I’ll just try to stick with the broad strokes. First of all Laurie is pretty much entirely unsympathetic in the film – I understand that she has been through a traumatic experience but she spends the entire film being a jerk to the kind family who has taken her in and pretty whiny and annoying to everyone else. She is damaged, but honestly, if she doesn’t have anything else going for her it’s hard for the audience to invest in her emotionally. Next, we are once again following Michael about as he goes on a killing spree and we spend a lot of time hearing him grunt as he stabs people, really animalistic grunts which did a fine job of reminding me exactly how creepy the original Michael Myers was due to the fact that he didn’t make a sound. Finally Dr. Loomis (played again by Malcolm MacDowell) is entirely unsympathetic, having made a fast buck on the pain Michael’s original rampage caused by writing a true crime book about the killings and getting some fame out of the deal (he does appear on a late night show with Weird Al Yankovic, who plays himself, in one of the stranger cameos I’ve come across in horror) but basically they have taken one of the most kind-hearted characters in slasher history and made him a total jerk, and I can’t even say why, he ends up doing the same thing the original character would have, and his sub-plot involving his book seems like unnecessary padding.

This film, although not my least favourite (hello Prom Night) was definitely one of the weakest of the last month and a bit of a taint on the franchise.

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