‘Holla II’ movie review


The horror-comedy sequel "Holla II" features blood (if not gut-busting laughs). (Rockstone Releasing)
April 19, 2013

It helps to think of “Holla II” as the kind of movie that the “Scary Movie” franchise (now in its fifth edition) stopped making fun of a looong time ago. A sequel to the 2006 “Holla,” the movie is old-school, low-tech horror. Think: masked killer. There is no Babylonian deity, or spooky video footage here. It aims low, and hits its target smack in the forehead — with a sharpened pencil.

That’s actually one of the ways that a character is dispatched in the film, which once again is written and directed by H.M. Coakley, and once again features a largely black cast. In a welcome reversal of what has come to be a cliche of mainstream horror, it’s the two Caucasian characters (Allison Kyler and Greg Cipes) who are killed off first, while in the throes of passion.

That’s no surprise in a film that’s set in a Florida plantation house that has been turned into a hotel, and where the ghosts of 13 murdered slaves are said to linger. The killer even wears a “golliwog” costume, a racist get-up from the 19th century that turns him (or is it a her?) into a giant rag doll in blackface. This is only one of the ways, in addition to its winking title, that the movie facetiously references the “Scream” films.

Yes, it’s all right to laugh. “Holla II” is that hybrid thing, the horror comedy. It embraces such tropes of the slasher genre as hypersexuality, even as it laughs at them. Needless to say, getting busy in this film is virtually always followed by getting killed. Abstinence seems to be the only way to stay alive.

The premise of the film is that “Holla’s” heroine Monica, who six years ago survived an attack by her psychopathic twin sister that killed all her friends, is getting married. The fact that Monica is played by a different actress here (Vanessa Bell Calloway) than in the first film (Shelli Boone) is explained by plastic surgery.

Works for me.

After settling in to the slave-haunted plantation house for the wedding weekend, Monica’s friends and family start dying off. With the exception of the fatal pencilling, most of the murder methods are mundane and inexpensive looking. It appears that Coakley’s entire F/X budget went to a single shot of a decapitated head, with the face still moving. The scene is played for yuks, not yucks.

“Holla II” is cheesy, and breaks no new ground. But then again, it isn’t trying to. Its humor is subtler than the “Scary Movie” movies. But that’s because it’s meant to be supplied by its audiences, who are expected to greet it with hollers — or at least titters — of laughter.

½

R. At the AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center. Contains obscenity, violence, gore, sex, nudity and drug use. 90 minutes.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.
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