Back in 2006, the slasher Holla was a refreshingly competent change of pace for all-black horror movies, which had become saturated with the likes of Zombiez, Vampiyaz, Bloodz vs. Wolvez and other similarly repugnant garbage. Holla was by no means a classic, but it helped raise the bar for modern “urban” horror fare.
I was eager to see what writer-director H.M. Coakley would come up with for a sequel, and after watching Holla II (which, for some reason, is not called Holla Back), I can only think that over the course of seven years, he either got a severe case of writer’s block or suffered debilitating head trauma.
Holla II is basically the antithesis of its predecessor. Whereas the first film poked fun at the standard horror movie conventions, this one buys into them with a vengeance, rendering it a tired, cliché-ridden bore filled with base characters, forced T&A, generic stabs at humor (A white guy who acts black? You don’t say!), an obnoxiously “hip” hip-hop soundtrack and a killer who takes time to explain every little detail to the final girl during the climax. Even the musical score is unoriginal, basically a retread of John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween theme.
The sequel takes place six years after — SPOILER ALERT — psycho killer Veronica (Shelli Boone) killed her twin sister Monica’s friends in Holla. (The prologue claims that the only other survivor, Troy, was Monica’s cousin, but he was in fact her boyfriend Dwayne’s cousin. Geez, it can’t get its own story straight!) Thanks to reconstructive surgery, Monica has a new face (now played by Kiely Williams of Cheetah Girls, um, “fame”?) and is living with Dwayne’s mother Marion (veteran actress Vanessa Bell Calloway) as “Mo,” a singer in a bar band called Rapsody. Yes, that means there is rapping, and yes, that means we’re subjected to terrible musical performances that we’re supposed to believe are good enough to earn them droves of fans.
Mo is engaged to bandmate Robbie and invites the other band members and various other friends and friends of friends (Seriously, there are, like, 20 characters in this movie.) to an old abandoned (and supposedly cursed) plantation for her wedding. Once they’re there, a mystery killer begins bumping them off, one by one! What are the odds?
For all its banality, Holla II actually has one striking feature that oozes potential: the killer dresses up in a golliwog doll costume. The sight of this smiling, almost cuddly racist artifact attacking victims feels hilariously inappropriate, and yet, I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities. As a postmodern slasher villain, it could’ve been put to good use as both campy entertainment and possibly insightful commentary. It would’ve been interesting, for instance, to see this crude stereotype killing all of the annoying characters for being crude stereotypes themselves.
But no, the golliwog getup is downplayed, appearing on screen for only a minute or two and never having any significance tied to its design. It may as well have just been a clown or any typical horror movie killer costume. To make matters worse, it’s painfully obvious who’s behind the mask the whole time, despite futile attempts at red herrings.
A tired retread whose limited potential is squandered, Holla II is as depressing as Holla was refreshing.