Dammit Rob Zombie, why can’t you ever live up to your potential? For those who don’t know, Rob Zombie is a rock star turned film director who has embraced violent 70s grindhouse films as his aesthetic of choice. His debut film, The House of 1000 Corpses, showed some potential in spite of its many flaws and this potential was tapped into for its sequel The Devil’s Rejects. Rejects remains Rob Zombie’s only complete success as he choose to follow it up by making an awful remake of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. Granted, Rob Zombie was probably able to inject that project with more interesting ideas than the average music video director would have, but the movie he made was an aggressively unpleasant piece of work. I had a viscerally uncomfortable experience watching that thing and it wasn’t in a good or deliberate way. It was so visually dark, so pointlessly violent and worst of all it was a completely unneeded remake. His sequel to that remake is probably a little better than the 2007 film, if only because it’s treading on less sacred ground, but it’s remains a complete mess that should generally be avoided.
Set a few years after the initial remake, this sequel follows Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) as she lives with the fallout of her brush with danger. It should probably ne noted that it was the director’s cut which I saw, in which Strode’s life is a mess. This is actually one of the more successful aspects of the movie; I found this depiction of the character a lot more interesting than the one in the 2007 film. Meanwhile Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who apparently survived his violent death in the 2007 film, has written a book about Michael Myers and is on a high profile tour to promote it. This sub-plot is probably the worst part of the whole movie, Dr. Loomis is one of the most iconic non-violent characters in horror cinema and this depiction of him is completely out of character, which I could forgive if I thought he served any real story purpose but he doesn’t.
Amidst all this, Michael Myers also comes out of the woodwork and starts randomly killing people. The handling of the actual Myers material is particularly weird, as he feels almost like an afterthought in his own flick. Also, the logistics of his stalking does not make very much sense. He seems to just emerge at all parts of the town in order to murder people, how he manages to travel from place to place so fast is never explained. A lot of the killing scenes almost just feel like filler, inserted into the movie in order to increase the violence quotient, which is the same purpose that the well executed but bizarre and pointless twenty minute dream sequence that opens the film.
Stylistically, Zombie feels a bit more at home with this movie than he did in the 2007 film. Zombie shoots the film in a pretty cheap and gritty way, and this suits his style better than the Carpenter imitating that was going on in the 2007 film. He also seems a bit more willing to include Zombie-esque tangential kitsch which is can occasionally be fun. This is probably what saves the film from unwatchability, I certainly didn’t find it as actively unpleasant as that 2007 version, but this is an incredibly flawed work just the same.
*1/2 out of Four