Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe, Daeg Faerch, Hanna Hall
MPAA Rating: (for strong brutal bloody violence and terror throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity and language)
Running Time: 1:49
Release Date: 8/31/07
Review by Mark Dujsik
Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is so bad it aspires to the height of utter pointlessness that was Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho. John Carpenter's original is a genuine classic, showing just how much less can be more when it comes to the horror genre. Zombie's movie is all excess, from its futile early attempts to dissect the origin of boogeyman Michael Myers to its tedious, overwrought rehash of the original story. The original achieved a twisting of the suburban lifestyle; its lasting impression made for anyone familiar with a local neighborhood existence. This movie will only be familiar to those who may have grown up in Hell. Then again, if one grew up in Hell, it's not like he or she will find any of this scary. In fact, someone who grew up in a cloistered life on a farm in the middle of nowhere and had no knowledge of the awful things people can do to each other wouldn't find this scary either. The advantage for people like that would be an equal sense of unfamiliarity with the Carpenter film and wouldn't have the always-fresh memory of it running through their heads. They wouldn't be able to hate this version as much as I do.
On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, a ten-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) is killing his pet rat upstairs while his stepfather (William Forsythe) insults his stripper mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and lusts after his sister (Hanna Hall). Yes, in case you were wondering, Michael Myers became psychopath in part because he grew up in a white trash household. He also wears a clown mask a lot and gets beaten up by bullies at school and gets sent to the principal's office and has to be seen by a psychiatrist named Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) because he has a dead cat and pictures of a dead dog in his backpack. It's just so commonplace, so unnecessary to throw all this information about Michael at us. He's not a scary monster anymore; he's a boring list of clichés. Anyway after bludgeoning a school bully to death with a tree branch, he kills off his entire family that night, except for his mother (who's at work) and baby sister. He's convicted of murder and spends the next 15 years in a mental asylum under the care of Loomis, until Halloween comes around, and he escapes.
Once we get past the uncomfortably laughable family dynamic of the Myers clan, Zombie seems to be on to something when he re-envisions the slaughter that put Michael away. The murder of the bully is visceral but not graphic; the systematic killing of his family has a genuine sense of unease. If the prologue had ended there (and cut out the Manson family holiday stuff), it would have worked a lot better, but nope, the writer/director keeps going. It takes a full 50 minutes of demystifying psychobabble before Zombie decides to get to the actual story of the grown Michael (Tyler Mane) stalking teenage babysitters on All Hallow's Eve, and it is dreadfully apparent that Zombie neither realizes nor cares about what made Michael frightening in the first place. Instead, he lazily tries to flesh out the relationship between Michael and Dr. Loomis, even going so far as to having the good doctor telling his patient, "You've become like my best friend." His breakout is violent, bloody, and devoid of any of the genuine tension of those first murders. Zombie relishes in a sick kind of realism—the camera sits in the sink and watches the face of a friendly janitor (Danny Trejo) as he's drowned.
The only point here, it seems, is to up the body-count, and Zombie probably quintuples the number of corpses that were in the original film. If you're curious if a character is going to die, assume they will, and probably about 75 percent of the time, you'll be right. Characters are arbitrarily introduced just to be killed in some grisly fashion, and Zombie isn't above settling on the old stereotype that slasher movies glorify violence against women by giving us, on three separate occasions, a woman in a state of disrobe being attacked (sex and violence, it always worryingly comes down to that). Michael's after Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), who has a secret that isn't too secret if you know anything about the confused mythology of the original's sequels, and her friends. They're flat-out annoying, and Michael has the ability to control the movie's editing and appear anywhere at any time. Like in the original, there are interludes with Loomis talking about Michael's nature, but they're irritating because we've already wasted so much time seeing it firsthand in the prologue. The climax changes things around a bit (Zombie apparently wants this to be a one-shot deal; we can only hope), but at that point, we're too fed up to care.
The original film turns 30 next year, and someone involved with this junk should atone by allowing it a decent theatrical re-release. I caught it on the big screen last year, and it's still just as effective an accomplishment. The only accomplishment this Halloween has to its name is to accurately produce the aftertaste of what I assume to be bile.
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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