Movie Review By Heather Clisby
For the brave few who survived the quiet brutality of 1990's "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" starring Michael Rooker, there is no rest. From first-time director, Chuck Parello, comes the sequel, "Henry 2: Mask of Sanity."
Featuring the brooding Neil Guintoli as the title character, the film is yet another portrait of your average, everyday guy who, as Ted Bundy once explained of his chosen hobby, "just likes to kill people."
Henry takes a job delivering and cleaning outhouses for, get this, $40 a day. (With that sort of job, I can see why killing makes a fine release.) There he meets Kai, played by Rich Komenich, a big, burly lump who welcomes the quiet, intense stranger into his home. There, Henry lives out the rest of the film, along with Kai's wife, Cricket, played by Kate Walsh, and Cricket's geekoid-but-beautiful teenage niece, played by Carri Levinson.
I strive not to give away plot surprises but I have to be honest, people get killed here, a lot. It's the nature of Henry; though he's not really a monster, he's more like . . . well, a really messed up human being. He knows he's a bad man and isn't always okay with it. He even once tried to kill himself after he sliced up Becky & Otis from the last film. Henry is also polite and even honorable when he isn't doing his part to fight world population.
What is unique about "Henry 2", and what it recaptures from the first installment, is a calm approach to the bloody situation. This is not a playful teen slasher flick or an engrossing psychological thriller, nothing is going to jump out at you here. Even the scary music cues are minimal.
Y'see, Henry is just as likely to walk up to his victims and kill them as he is to bum a smoke, unless you're a real jerk, like his boss, Rooter, who puts an hallucinogenic in Henry's beer as a practical joke. Har-har! (Here's some advice: Don't give drugs to serial killers, you're just going to exacerbate that little personality glitch that makes them so special to begin with.)
Like the first film, Henry finds a new best friend and converts him into joining the random killing. (The only difference being that Otis turned out to be a natural predator while Kai, a professional arsonist, is only trying to be cool.) Also, like the first film, the buddy is related to the pathetic, needy love interest that naively hopes for a future with Henry and ends up with no future at all.
While "Henry 2" lacks the grit of the original, the film is wise not to over step itself - there are no deep explanations or insights into what makes Henry tick. We only know that he is average and he is everywhere.
© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 10/4/98
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