Directed by: Rob Zombie, USA, 2007)
Written by: Rob Zombie
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danny Trejo, Brad Dourif
Released: 2007 / Genre: Horror / Country: USA / IMDB
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If there’s one thing you learn from watching Rob Zombie movies, apart from what your insides look like, it is not to waste your time watching Rob Zombie movies. Zombie is the picture postcard of MTV-generation trash that has spilled into the cinematic mainstream. His films are eye-candy to the uninitiated (or should that be uneducated), appealing largely, and unfortunately, to the mass teen market bred on quick-fixes, episodic action-orientated TV shows, and, seemingly, naked girls.
It’s a shame Zombie should turn his creative-eye to the Halloween franchise. It would appear that, even though the series hardly required any more instalments, Hollywood (more precisely, the Weinsteins) is happy to tread well-worn ground in the hope of appealing to a ready-made audience. The series as a whole had already lost much of the shine made by John Carpenter. His Halloween film from 1978 was not only one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but a defining moment in horror movie lore. Some of the sequels were also entertaining in their own right, especially Jamie Lee Curtis’ return to scream-queen action in Halloween H20, but as more and more movies came out, Michael Myers became just another hokey caricature in the mould of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.
Why make another film is a question for the marketers. Since there seemed little more to add to the continuing story, somewhere along the line Zombie must have had the thought: remake the classic original. What he didn’t take into consideration was: remaking a film known and loved by so many is almost impossible. He also forgot to remember (probably on purpose) he didn’t have the writing or directing talent to make it work.
In Zombie’s remake, we begin by witnessing the would-be killer in childhood, living with his abusive father. Myers is an understandably troubled child, locking himself in the bathroom where he dissects the family pet. He’s also getting into trouble at school, and, unfortunately for one school bully, beats him dead with a tree branch. After killing his father and sister, he’s sent to a mental institution where Dr. Loomis tries to help him. Years later, he escapes, and we follow him back to his old home as he searches for his baby sister.
The new Halloween neglects to acknowledge what made the original so effective. This is, without doubt, the film’s cardinal sin. What made Michael Myers such a frightening character was the lack of reason in his monstrous actions: the idea that terror can come from anywhere – indeed, from the secure, middle-class family home. Zombie’s back story makes a mockery of the working class, depicting Myers as a product of a broken family unit; his anger built on years of abuse and neglect from his father. But the frightening aspect of the original Michael Myers is the sense that his killing is based on uncontrollable evil that even he has no power over. The new Michael Myers is just a deeply trouble psychopath with a brutal distaste for the family that failed him.
Inextricably, having established Michael Myers with reason, Zombie provides him with supernaturally powerful strength and the ability to withstand a bullet. This, having taken the mystique away from Myers-as-monster, betrays the audience’s trust entrenched in Myers’ bullied and abused childhood.
Zombie’s poor script extends to some truly awful dialogue (made only palpable by genre veterans Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif), and languid, disjointed pacing. Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode makes do with a limited lead role, while the supporting cast (made up of predominantly pretty twenty-something girls) is a collection of cliched characterisation and Kevin Williamson-style, angst-ridden dialogue. Zombie borrows the Dawson’s Creek-in-a-slasher-movie ideals from Wes Craven with not even a semblance of his talent on show.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake is a stale, uninteresting mess. It laughably takes itself far too seriously and has no right to. The second half of the film is so bad John Carpenter should consider legal action over copyright infringement. Not only does the film betray the legacy of one of the genre’s most iconic characters, it destroys his fear factor. The new Halloween’s most damning attribute is that instead of being fearful of this demonic, uncontrollable evil, we begin to pity it. And that’s a dead end road Zombie should never have gone down.
Review by Daniel Stephens – See all reviews here