“Halloween II” was not shown to press, but last night contributor Phil Fava attended a midnight screening just so he could file this report. Here’s Phil:
What was I expecting, here? I don’t know. I didn’t necessarily anticipate good taste or stunning craftsmanship, but I definitely didn’t anticipate this. Truth be told, I’m just angry. I was angry at this movie immediately. I almost want to forgo writing a review and send the director a list of my grievances instead. I’m not scared; I’m resentful.
Isn’t Zombie supposed to be a massive horror movie buff? Shouldn’t he be clued in slightly to what works and what doesn’t? I just wanna grab him and scream, “Stop trying to humanize your villain! Please! It completely works against you and serves no useful purpose!” Showing Michael as a small child with deep affection for his mother doesn’t make him scarier.
Anton Chigurh (“No Country for Old Men”) and Heath Ledger’s Joker were a thousand times more menacing than this limp juggernaut could ever be, and that’s because the Coen Brothers and Christopher Nolan had the good sense to avoid giving those characters lame expository passages to explain their behaviors. Every murder in this movie hits precisely the wrong note. Michael Myers is not seen as a malevolent force; he’s seen as an oaf with bizarre hallucinations who obeys his wraith-like mother’s every command.
When I see a human being murdering another human being, it doesn’t scare me. It just upsets me. It’s ugly and depressing. And honestly, even if this hacky, borderline-Oedipal character treatment had been done well, it still would’ve been counterproductive. But, for the record, it wasn’t. It was cheesy and embarrassing.
What else? Oh yeah. Nausea and fear are not interchangeable conditions. Carefully showing me a person’s stab wounds, again, does not scare me. It grosses me out. It makes me queasy. Never, ever confuse this with the kind of sensation experienced when watching a horror movie made with prowess and integrity (like, for instance, the original “Halloween”). He might as well be showing us feces.
Also, I’ve had it with the parade of grotesqueness. Another major self-defeating portion of this movie is attributable to Zombie’s penchant for giving us awful, insufferable, disgusting, scummy characters who exist merely so they can cease to do so moments later. This renders every killing totally inconsequential. Why should I care when Myers decapitates an ambulance driver who’s spent all his screen time happily discussing necrophilia? Why should I care when Myers bludgeons two men to death who’ve both just assaulted him for trespassing?
Even the color palette is completely inappropriate. The grungy look accentuates the wretchedness of these characters and augments the audience’s disinterest in their deaths. If the victims are cruel and arguably deserving and even the undeserving ones inhabit a dreary, unrealistic world, how can I conjure up any level of sympathy for them? How can I have a stake in their survival?
This is basic stuff, Zombie. Seriously, what the hell are you doing? Haven’t you made a few movies already? Have you learned nothing from them? Even if this were your first film, it’s not like you didn’t have an impeccable frame of reference. You’re remaking good movies and changing everything about them that made them so.
I felt a lot of things while I was watching “Halloween II”: depression, annoyance, discomfort. Mostly, it made me want to shower. This is an ugly, clumsy, surprisingly awful film. Like I said, I didn’t expect high art. But I definitely didn’t expect to hate it. And I really hated it. So did my fellow audience members. They, too, were disinterested. They didn’t scream. They didn’t gasp. They laughed when they weren’t supposed to. As a matter of fact, laughter was their only audible response. Let’s just say a prayer for Malcom McDowell and move on with our lives.