Genre defining continues

Just like most things in the world, a ground-breaking horror film was without a doubt going to produce a second instalment. While Halloween II, just like its predecessor, set an example for what to expect from horror sequels, there were certain flaws with the piece that left some critics and fans quite underwhelmed.

Dr Loomis stands looking concerned with his hand on his face.
I need to get another job (image credit https://film-authority.com)

A stark difference in direction

The film picks up quite literally right where the original left off and already it makes some weird changes. On Halloween (1978), Dr Loomis looks over the grass where Michael was lying after falling down from the balcony. There’s a resignation of sorts in his eyes like he had been expecting this. In this one, however, he acts surprised. A very small detail and yet it already creates a disconnect in continuity.

Naturally, the direction was going to feel different considering John Carpenter was only writing and producing instead of taking the director’s chair. To his credit, Rick Rosenthal makes a solid effort but that magic touch of tension and dread is not quite there. While setting the film mainly in a hospital would have been new back then, now seems quite predictable. Although it obviously makes sense plot-wise and granted, does provide some creepy shots here and there.

The plot twist of the ages

Speaking of plot, one cannot talk about Halloween II and not mention the now infamous twist of Laurie and Michael being siblings. While the later films do lean into this narrative, I feel like the reveal itself kind of goes against the point of the first movie – disturbed man following around three random girls for no rhyme or reason.

Laurie was meant to be just the one who got away but with this twist, it creates some kind of a diabolical plan almost from Michael’s part. This negates the whole ‘pure evil’ idea Carpenter had in the previous instalment. Not to mention some obvious plot holes it creates. For example, how in the world did Laurie just forget she had a brother in a mental institution?

Laurie Strode is leaning against an elevator door. She's wearing a hospital gown, looking scared.
I just wanted to finally get some sleep (image credit: https://mubi.com)

Setting an example for better or worse

Halloween II (1981) without a doubt influenced horror sequels for many years to come. It’s obvious though it was influenced by features that came out in between, like none other than Friday the 13th (1980). As many critics mentioned, the body count and gore were upped to what was definitely the max at the time and while now it makes sense to up the stakes in the sequel to keep the audiences interested, it does also seem a bit too much at times.

One major disservice a film does to itself is Laurie’s characterisation. In the original, we have this badass young woman who has wit, compassion and guts to survive the night of horror. In this one, she’s barely even a character, spending most of the runtime drugged up in a hospital bed or stumbling across hallways. While it makes sense for her to be traumatised after what she went through, this writing choice does not do her any favours. If anything, it puts a damper on what is still a pretty decent follow-up to a classic.

Rating:

3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5)

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