Trick or trite


Starring Malcolm McDowell and Tyler Mane. Directed by Rob Zombie. Rated R.
Rated 2.0

When setting out to reboot the suburban horror of the Halloween franchise, white-trash fetishist Rob Zombie seems an odd choice to write and direct. And, as it plays out, a bad choice.

Operating as both a prequel and remake, Halloween 2.0 picks up 15 years before the original, exploring the events that shaped The Shape. It’s bad enough that tweener Michael Myers looks like a tubby young Jodie Foster, but here he’s saddled with a stripper mom (Zombie’s wife), an abusive caricature of a stepfather and a stepsister who has a mattress strapped to her back. Meanwhile, he’s taking even more abuse on the schoolyard from a bully who swears like he’s already spent two decades in the Navy.

Seeing that the boy shows the textbook signs of being a serial killer in the making, it’s only inevitable when the big killing spree comes about and li’l Mikey is shipped off to The Snake Pit. Fifteen years later, The Shape breaks out of the institution and sets about slaughtering anyone who stands between him and the baby sister all grown up. The remake half of the film plays like a Cliff’s Notes version of the original, with any quiet time that had been used for dread removed as Myers scurries about like he’s part of the Manson Family Circus, a Hell Billy leaving a dotted trail of blood about the neighborhood.

The biggest misstep here is attaching a backstory for The Shape, a move akin to exploring what motivates the shark in Jaws. It doesn’t help that so much effort is spent developing Michael Meyers’ character that no time is left to create actual viable characters for the victims, leaving only cardboard cutouts for Myers to punch his way through. This is progress? And the Rob Zombie peckerwood ethos hangs over the project so heavily that it seems as if every character has a pink flamingo in his or her closet.

Ultimately, this entry is only abusive, loud and ugly, with no attention paid to suspense or dread. Just headbanger posturing that doesn’t satisfy on any level and serves as nothing more than trailer-trash Grand Guignol.