'Halloween II'

They can put all the numbers they want after the titles of these horror franchises, but a better name for "Halloween II" might be "One More Halloween."

In writer-director Rob Zombie's pile-it-on ethos, murder scenes that already incite deja vu now feel as if they contain one more scream, one more angry downswing of the knife, one more pulpy stomp on a head, one more pounding of a naked woman's face against a mirror and one more lingering shot of carnage.

Zombie's follow-up to his own 2007 reboot of the aging slasher series -- which now follows massacre survivor Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) through an all-too-brief recovery before you know who returns -- is an unshackling of sorts for this tedious sadism purveyor who raised a few eyebrows from aficionados with the last film by delving into the "why? WHY?" of psychotic mask-wearer Michael Myers (Tyler Mane).

Freed from remaking a sequel -- because who'd do over 1981's limp "Halloween II"? -- Zombie's continuation doubles down on the mayhem, psychological pap, hillbilly misogyny and overwrought moral outrage so that there's truly nowhere to hide.

You might gasp at the shedding of barbecue-sauce-looking blood, but more likely at the ludicrous sight of Michael communing with blinding visions of his dead mother next to a white horse. You might wince at the deafening foley work when knife meets skin and bone, or at the sound of thuddingly dumb dialogue emanating from teenagers and adults alike. And if you're not shielding your eyes from routine eviscerations, you will at Malcolm McDowell's triple-decker ham sandwich of a turn as the tragedy-exploiting Dr. Loomis. Which, it must be said, is an entirely different bad performance from the one he gave in the last movie. That's versatility.

What you won't feel is genuine horror, because unlike John Carpenter -- whose original 1978 film is a sly game of nerve-racking peekaboo -- Zombie isn't out to engage fans of the genre with a slaughterhouse bonbon like "Halloween II." Michael Myers may inexplicably get the jump on his victims but Zombie's a looky-loo tradesman whose gory shtick you can see coming a mile away.




'Halloween II'

MPAA rating: R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, language, and some crude sexual content and nudity

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Playing: In general release

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