Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is a good movie. That sentence alone ignites arguments all over the internet and at horror conventions coast to coast. Most of the arguments aren’t even fans taking opposing sides; it’s the fact the movie shouldn’t have been made at all, in addition to its predecessor two years earlier.
Remaking a classic is a difficult and narrow road to travel, but when you follow it up with a direct sequel as the original had done, well you better be sure both are pure gold before you release them to the hardcore genre fans. For many, and I mean many, both of these movies fell extremely short of the bar set by John Carpenter nearly thirty years earlier, as well as the genre bar as well. However, none more so than Zombie’s Halloween 2.
With all of that being said it’s fair to say I get a lot of shit for defending Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, and as someone who loves bad movies this is a different kind of shit than I’m used to taking for my honesty. Many fans can agree “so and so” is a bad movie, but it’s a good bad movie. Or “such and such” is so bad it somehow pulls a complete 180 and becomes good. However, once you admit to liking Zombie’s H2 horror fans you once called brethren look at you like you ate their baby, vomited it back up, and ate it again.
When I’ve tried to stand toe to toe with many horror fans to explain my opinion, most just roll their eyes and walk away before I can fully argue my case. Others just talk over me as if it was a shouting match, as if their pure volume would justify their side. Please, I implore you to hear me out about this one. Even if it doesn’t change your opinion about the movie, even if you think Rob Zombie is a horrible director, maybe it will alter your viewpoint just a little bit to see why someone might like this movie.
First, remove the physical presence of Michael Myers from Halloween 2. I know, sounds crazy, right? Just humor me here for a moment… remove Myers and what do you get? A movie about victims; victims who survived the most horrific night of events one could ever imagine. Somehow they have to continue living their lives with both the physical and emotional scars left after that single night one year earlier. . Where do you even begin to pick up the pieces?
The way Zombie portrays these shattered souls and their continuous pain and suffering was the stroke of genius I have been looking for in a horror film for a very, very long time. Their pain isn’t fresh, and it certainly isn’t just physical anymore, it’s deeper than that. Zombie had a strong grasp on what a survivor of such an ordeal would be feeling, and how it would morph and change with time as they are left with no choice but continue to move with the world, regardless of their suffering. Somehow you have to go on because the world isn’t going to stop for you and the trauma you endured. However, not everyone processes the trauma of the event the same way, and this is where Zombie gets into some real depth.
Annie is no longer the care-free party girl. Now she has to pick up the pieces of not only her life but Laurie’s and her father’s as well. In their new home they have to find a way to co-exist in this makeshift family as she not only plays “mother” to her (former?) best friend, but also “lady of the house” to her father. Annie completely transitions from an immature high school student to the glue that holds this dysfunctional family together to the best of her ability.
While it’s not as pronounced in the film, Sheriff Brackett is also seen as a different character than who was portrayed in the first film. Before the night Michael Myers returned home Brackett was a very put together man of the law who held an ego that his town was the safest place to live. Not only did Myers destroy that image of peace and tranquility in a town he swore to protect, but he also very nearly killed his daughter. With his overprotective nature, sneaking cigarettes on the job, and indulging in comfort food, Leigh Brackett is a man with extremely shot nerves that come completely unravel after the demise of his daughter in Halloween 2.
In an unexpected turn of events the character of Dr. Samuel Loomis changes as well, but instead of being the dedicated and borderline obsessive stalker of Myers and his quest to keep him defeated, Zombie’s Loomis becomes a glory hound. Loomis releases a tell-all book about his former patient, and also spills the biggest secret of them all- Laurie Strode is Angel Myers, Michael Myers’ little sister. This is something Sheriff Brackett entrusted with Loomis in the first movie, only to have him betray this knowledge to sell more books. He even exploits the scene of the crime where Michael committed his first murders as a child. He total looses his moral compass for the sake of the almighty dollar.
The post-traumatic stress Laurie went through, and how radically the events of the first movie fracture her psyche and turn her from a happy go lucky high schooler into a shell of that girl now filled with pain and a tortured soul is beautiful. It’s beautiful because it is real.
Having PTSD myself from violent events in my past I strongly resonate with the direction Zombie took for Laurie’s character to travel. The nightmares, the hours of fruitless therapy, the unprovoked panic attacks, the medication, it’s all relevant and painfully real.
While each character reveals how their attack at the hands of Michael Myers affects them differently, Zombie’s exposure of the physical and mental scars and trauma suffered by Laurie Strode is the most evident and painful of all. However, this character transition wouldn’t have been possible without Scout Taylor Compton’s delivery of the material. She truly portrays a survivor in the most believable of fashions; from her emotional upheaval to her body language and apathetic attitude, Compton truly sells this performance.
Yes, I know later Laurie suffers a full psychotic break and eventually shares the same sociopathic mentality as her older brother, but up until that point the PTSD portrayal was very accurate and chilling. I argue Halloween 2 is not a good horror movie because of Michael Myers, I take the stance it’s a great movie because of the horror these survivors have to endure on a daily basis after the events in the first film, and how well Zombie portrayed these obstacles.
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