Watch it: Halloween II
The Hangover was a hilarious, inventive well-crafted movie. It made me laugh many, many times. Was it chock full of clever social commentary like, say, Blazing Saddles, or bursting with insight on human behavior like Annie Hall? Nope. It was just funny, and it was good at it. For audiences and critics, that was enough.
So why is Rob Zombie’s Halloween II getting such poor reviews?
It’s a scary, inventive, well-crafted movie. It has a distinctive look, decent acting, characters that feel real, and is creepy as all get out. But it’s a horror movie that is focused solely on scaring you, not doing something else along the way. For example, The Descent, a movie about a group of women trapped in a cave with horrible, mutated albino cannibals, got respect because it was scary and it looked at the complicated dynamics of female friendship. It completely deserved that respect; it was an excellent film. Yet I can’t help but think that critics aren’t comfortable with a violent horror film that doesn’t carry an extra reason to exist to make it acceptable. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk reaction that comes from having endured the many derivative, predictable horror movies that litter the cinematic landscape these days. Maybe it’s a fear that their critical acumen will be questioned if they get caught liking something that involves violence that only serves the purpose of frightening the viewer. Maybe what scares you is a personal thing and a lot of them just didn’t find this movie scary. Maybe.
This reviewer though that Halloween II was consistently scary. Mr. Zombie’s love of the great horror flicks of the 70′s still shines through; the film has a dark, slightly muted look about it, right down to the color of the blood. As one might expect, his use of music is very smart and powerful, and his occasionally surreal dream sequences are gorgeously evocative. And he understands that the more realistic a death is, the more horrifying it is. That’s why all of the victims seem to die at least a few seconds after the mortal blow has been struck. They don’t simply expire the very second their throat is slit, like you would see in a cheesy Friday the 13th sequel. That might seem like a ghoulish detail to highlight, one that might make a reader question the maturity, morality, or seriousness of the critic. But what Rob Zombie seems to understand is that being frightened is just as valid and cathartic a reaction as being amused. And as long as the frights are presented convincingly and creatively, they don’t need any other justification. And if you enjoy being scared, you don’t need any other justification, either.