That it’s made by one of the ‘stars’ of Troll 2, the ‘worst movie ever made’, is what steers this away from mocking hipster irony to give us a genuinely sweet and decidedly odd where-are-they-now documentary. That it centres on the charming actor-turned-dentist George Hardy as its hero, following his exploits as he drums up support for comedic revival screenings, is more luck than genius, but that’s fine, because Michael Stephenson knows what he’s got here. Not only an insight into the unconventional world of the jobbing actor, and the quirks of the convention circuit, it’s even got a pantomime villain in Claudio Fragasso, director of Troll 2 (it doesn’t even have any trolls in it!) and a man whose inflated ego won’t let him admit he was a purveyor of trash.
Halloween II picks up literally where its predecessor leaves off and turns everything up to 11. The kill rate shoots up, the jump scares are louder, the acting is more frantic. And the premise gets more ludicrous, too, as the deliberate ambiguity of Carpenter’s original is abandoned to create a superhuman bogeyman in Michael Myers. It’s basically the first one rewritten for the grindhouse, and it loses a lot in translation. Still, it has its moments, with the opening scenes giving us more of a villain’s-eye view of proceedings.
A grim fairy tale most certain, as a Puritan family on the cold, barren periphery of their community, both figuratively and literally, succumb to the tests of their unreasonably demanding faith. That its deep horrors potentially have a rational explanation makes it all the more chilling. An exquisitely done debut feature by former theatre director and set designer Robert Eggers, of this there is no doubt.
A strange, strange little film, ostensibly the tale of a stranger with a terrible gift who ingratiates himself into the lives of an obsessive experimental musician and his wife, all the while referencing the traditions of pastoral horror, psychodrama, postmodernism – a heady stew indeed.