Writer-director Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake functioned as more of a Michael Myers origin story, but hewed to the original film’s story beats. With this sequel, Zombie stakes new narrative ground. Minor spoilers follow.
The film picks up where the prior film ended. Laurie, having shot and killed Michael Myers point-blank, wanders dazed down the suburban streets. She’s picked up by the sheriff and taken to the hospital. Police arrive on the scene and load Michael’s body into a van for transport to the morgue. They don’t make it and Michael escapes and makes his way back to the hospital in pursuit of Laurie.
I appreciated this nod to the original Halloween II but felt relieved when Zombie revealed this opening to be Laurie’s nightmare.
One year has passed since the first film and Laurie’s now a punk-rock girl battling full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Loomis has become a B-grade celebrity having written a tell-all memoir. Michael’s body was never recovered, but he’s presumed dead.
Of course, he’s not. He’s been living in a remote barn miles outside of town. He has visions of his dead mother, clad in white alongside a white horse. The frequency and intensity of the visions increase as Halloween approaches. In them, he sees his younger self asking his mother when they can be a family again. “Soon,” she replies.
Halloween arrives and Michael sets off on a march for Haddonfield and Laurie, determined to reunite his family. Meanwhile, Laurie is having visions too. In a nod to Halloween 4, Zombie introduces the notion of a shared family evil.
It doesn’t gel, but I appreciate the effort. Zombie dials back the cynical perspective he took with the prior film, making room for a welcome bit of nihilism. Loomis rationalizes his exploitive behavior but finds redemption. Laurie’s genetics may doom her. Zombie even experiments with Alice in Wonderland style surrealism in the vision sequences.
The trouble is, it’s still Michael’s story, but told through Laurie, and she proves an uncompelling protagonist. The script sees her whining or hysterical, and devoid of agency. And I struggled to buy the familial fixation plot. After working so hard to ground the prior film in a gritty verisimilitude, Zombie’s effort to mix in avant-garde supernatural elements puzzles more than frightens. But I applaud his willingness to tell a unique story. While his prior film pales next to Carpenter’s original, he has made the superior part 2.