Friday, August 31, 2007

Review: Halloween (2007)

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris
Director: Rob Zombie

Producer: Malek Akkad, Patrick Esposito, Andy Gould, Andrew G. La Marca, Matthew Stein, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Rob Zombie
Release Date: August 31, 2007
Running time: 109 min

MPAA Rating: R
Distributors: Dimension Films

“Behind these eyes one finds only blackness, they absence of light, these are of a psychopath.”

The Skinny:
Rob Zombie’s remake, er… re-imagining of the 1978 classic, Halloween.

The Review:
This guy’s got some nerve. Rob Zombie has made all of two movies, then up and decides out of thin air he wants to do a remake - of Halloween no less. Who the hell does he think he is anyway? Sure The Devil’s Rejects was great, but Halloween? The grandfather of all slasher movies? Talk about swinging for the fence. This is more than just a horror movie. This is a remake of arguably the greatest slasher flick of all time, the 9th Halloween movie, and a Rob Zombie movie. There were so many prejudged expectations that it never really had a chance, did it?

By now the story of Halloween is the stuff of horror movie lore. In case you are freshly revived from a time capsule: A 10 year old Michael Myers kills his sister and others on Halloween night. He is committed to a mental institution, Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis. After not speaking for 15 years, Myers breaks free from the hospital and heads back to his childhood home, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

Let me just say this - this ain’t your granddaddy’s Halloween. This is Zombie’s take on the classic, and there are differences. In order to justify the remake, there had to be something new enough to interest me. This movie takes chances, and for the most part - they pay off. If you want a shot by shot rehash of something, go watch Van Sant’s pile of swill Psycho remake. That’s not to say it’s not without its flaws, but overall it worked very, very well.

The main glaring difference is the back story. We are made privy to some of Michael Myers’ history previous to his initial batch of Halloween killings. To dig deeper into the back story is to attempt to gain a better understanding of Myers’ motivations. At first, I was mildly offended by Zombie’s presumptions. Why would you go and ruin a good thing by trying to explain why Michael Myers is the way he is? Wasn’t that one of the reasons the original worked - not knowing why? Absolutely, but as the movie unfolded and we were able to see the rest of the chances Zombie took with the picture, everything found its place and it worked. In the end, the back story gives us the necessary information to almost care that he completes his journey. At the very least it added an additional level of tension not present in the original.

Detractors will protest the amount of violence and blood in the film, crying foul because the original worked so well with so little. Huh? Zombie’s first movie was called House of 1000 Corpses. You can’t rack up that many dead bodies without shedding a little blood. That’s like going on a date with Rachel Ray and complaining because she cooked dinner for you.

There are a lot of great performances here that worked too. Sheri Moon-Zombie shows some unforeseen range as Myers’ stripper mother, Deborah. I loved William Forsythe as Deborah’s abusive boyfriend. Tyler Mane makes for a very imposing adult Myers. And Daeg Faerch as young Michael Myers is without a doubt, the creepiest kid I have seen on film in a long time. One down spot for me was the Dr. Loomis character, played by Malcolm McDowell. I appreciated the concept of further intertwining Myers and Dr. Loomis’ story, but this Loomis came off as a bit egotistical whose motivations were more than simply caging the evil of Myers.

All in all, I loved this movie. It worked for me on many levels. As a horror movie, it is tense and conceptually fresh. As a Halloween movie, it is an original yet respectful reinvention. And as a Rob Zombie movie? The script is sharp and inspired, the music is great, and the performances rose above regular horror movie conventions - it is a worthy tribute that Zombie successfully made his own.

And you get to see a ‘monkey’ selling guns.


The Rub:
This movie is Rob Zombie’s Halloween. It is violent, bloody, and fierce. It is audacious in its concept, arrogant in its confidence, and skillful in its execution. I admire the chances he took, and his presumption to think he could pull it off. There is a fine line between introducing original devices to the story and respecting the material of origin. Zombie walks that line to perfection. While not quite as good as The Devil’s Rejects, this is hands down the best Halloween since the original.

And there’s the rub.

*** 1/2 out of ****

1 comment:

Tony DeFrancisco said...

Great review sir. I hope I can see it soon. Cant wait to read your Death Sentence review.