Henry II picks up where the original (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) left off. Henry (Neil Giuntoli) takes a thankless job at a port-o-john company where he meets husband and wife, Kai...
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Henry II picks up where the original (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) left off. Henry (Neil Giuntoli) takes a thankless job at a port-o-john company where he meets husband and wife, Kai (Ken Komenich) and Cricket (Kate Walsh). They take pity on the homeless drifter and offer him a room in the home they share with their emotionally fragile teenage niece, Louisa (Carri Levinson). Henry learns that Kai has a side job as an arsonist-for-hire, setting up phony insurance scams to make money for their boss, Rooter (Daniel Allar). He agrees to join Kai and on one of their first outings, they discover two squatters in a building that's been marked for fire. It is then that Henry introduces Kai to his life's work... and the murders begin. Kai has never killed before, but he turns into a willing accomplice. Initially, the two men work well together. But as the killing sprees increase in their depravity, it's more than Kai can handle. He wants out, but he's in too deep. Written by
Giutoli has big shoes to fill. Nevertheless, an enjoyable film
Michael Rooker forever imprinted himself on my mind as the cool, psychopathic serial killer in the 1986 masterpiece "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer", in a performance that would stand to be impossible to beat, and has never been matched since. Being a big fan of John McNaughton's film, I approached the 1996 sequel with some excitement, and natural trepidation. It looked bad for a number of reasons.... for starters, Rooker wasn't reprising his role as Henry. And needless to say, McNaughton wasn't to be at the helm. But nevertheless, I watched it, and I was quite surprised. It's a long shot off the first film, but nevertheless, it is enjoyable and although Neil Giutoli had been given an impossible task of matching Rooker's performance, he still managed to shadow his performance well and was quite good. The sequel takes off where the original ended, with Henry at large and on the run. He is homeless, but is still randomly killing people. It's not until he finds a job working at a portable toilet company that he finds some stable work and money, and he moves in with Kai - a co-worker - and his family. These people are thrash, and Henry fits in just perfectly with them. Kai's wife's niece also lives in the house, a very shy and geeky artist with suicidal tendencies. She takes a liking to Henry that later turns into dangerous obsession. Meanwhile, Henry is approached by Kai to do a little extra 'work' with him. This involves them burning down sleazy properties for insurance scams, and Kai turns out to be some sort of pyromaniac... and needless to say, Henry starts killing while out on these late shifts, and it isn't long before he has Kai doing the same thing. OK, even from reading that I know many people would be turning their noses up and calling it a blatant insult/rip-off of the original. That it nearly is, but I was willing to look beyond that and just enjoy the film as it's own. This was never going to brilliant... as the original is notorious for just being a film about three characters sitting around a scummy apartment drinking, and two of them just happen to pop out every night and kill someone. It was so simple, yet extremely effective and almost authentic looking. The plot here has a bit more flesh added onto it, and there's a lot more going on. But it doesn't make it anymore scary or shocking, it just improves it as a whole in terms of being its own film. Giutoli is far from intimidating... he stands at no more than 5"6 and he lacks all the power and intensity of Rooker in the original. The violence is plentiful as there are a few beatings, a decapitation and numerous stabbings as well as a neck break (The one thing that makes me squirm!). The story leaves a lot to be desired, as it seems to just repeat the trend of the original where Henry bumps into scumbags like himself and is able to manipulate them to kill and brutalise people. This disturbing trait is evident here - as is the idea of just going out and murdering someone because you've had a bad day which was possibly one of the biggest things that made the original film make such a huge impact. Henry kills just as apathetically here, and as usual, makes sure that everything goes his way. So is it a good sequel? Yes; because it could have been a whole lot worse. Director Chuck Parello manages to remain faithful to the original in maintaining the taut and tense atmosphere, however, that been said, it's still a long pitch off the original - as it lacks the power and intensity, and part of that is just down to the absence of Rooker.
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