PLOT: One dark night, in Haddonfield, Illinois, a young boy named Michael Myers slaughters his sister Judith, and a few others. His mother and a doctor try and help the young boy when he is put into an asylum. But as he is kept locked away, he soon finds himself lost in madness… until one Halloween night, fifteen years later, “he came home”.
HALLOWEEN may be one of the most important films for me personally. It was the first film that I remember connecting with on so many levels. It was the film that really made me love movies because of it’s sheer power. It also gave me a few nightmares that I will never forget. With that said, I will now try to avoid talking about the original. I am going to attempt not to compare the John Carpenter classic with the recent… let’s just say prequel/re-imagining or whatever. In fact, if the film had been directed by almost any one else, I would have scoffed at the idea. But Rob Zombie is someone that I trust to make unique and disturbingly brutal works of art. I was thoroughly entertained by HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and was truly inspired by THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. Yes, it’s only two films, so what right does this dude have to remake Halloween? A couple of films and a few cool music videos? He loves horror… that‘s what. And not only does he love horror… he knows it. He knows what makes something terrifying.
As far as his latest and decidedly most controversial movie, he manages to create a gripping journey into a suburban horror, proving once again that Rob Zombie is a genius in the art of the modern nightmare. He introduces us to a young boy growing up in a very dysfunctional family. His mother Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper who is living with a drunken a-hole (William Forsythe) and sister (Hanna Hall), who seems to be too interested in boys and sex than her loving brother. The only one the young boy seems to have a connection with is his baby sister (you can figure that one out). So this young man uses his time hiding from the world, usually wearing masks. Again, I will attempt to avoid the comparisons to the original, but it did feel a tad scarier when a young man is just evil, messed up family or not. Yet, this look at the boy, Michael, adds a unique level to the story. It works because we see what is probably very typical, and quite sad in the breakdown of many American families. As young Michael falls into insanity, we are given a preview of what is to come. Especially powerful is what happens when a bully picks on the wrong person, which will have many an audience member squirming at the sheer brutality of it.
What helps makes the first half of Halloween work is a couple of very strong performances from Daeg Faerch as young Michael and Sheri Moon as his mother. She gives heart to this story even if you question her motives for staying with an alcoholic who helps to tear the family apart. Sheri is a damn fine actress who is dismissed much too easily because she is Rob’s wife. As the young monster, Daeg is equally powerful. He offers up a sweet natured kid who transforms into a child with “the devil’s eyes” quite believably. Both of these two make for a strong beginning which helps make this a unique vision of the classic. Then, when we are introduced to Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), an interesting triangle between mother, doctor and psychotic son develops.
The first half of the film, which takes place in the Myers household and later on in a mental institution, works much better then one would expect. There are definitely enough chills and thrills to keep it moving, but it feels as though it is a brutal and sad world. As Michael stops speaking and grows up to be the monster that Tyler Mane lives in, we still witness the world of Halloween through his eyes. I’m not saying that you root for him, but we see the world partially through his strange diseased mind. He plays Michael as a force to be reckoned with. A beast of a man who is powerful enough to destroy anything that gets in his way. And that means those he happens upon on the ultimate escape from the institution and his arrival in Haddonfield, fifteen years later, on Halloween.
When he comes home, the film almost feels like it could have been the sequel to the first half. This is where we really move into remake territory. The babysitters are introduced including a much more playful Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) who is still the bookish one compared to Lynda and Annie, played respectively by Kristina Klebe and a welcome return to this franchise by the lovely Danielle Harris (my how she’s grown). Yet, this moves quickly into the final battle between Laurie and Michael. It is a brutal, and violent fight that feels much more visceral and favors sheer intensity over suspense. There is also a bit of nudity that is not terribly surprising for a Rob Zombie flick. But what is surprising is that it seems somewhat subdued for him. Yes, it is brutal and vicious, but it avoids some of the gross out factor that comes with the modern horror film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got blood, but this is not a film purely made to make you sick. And frankly, Halloween shouldn’t be that type of film.
I found Rob Zombie’s vision to be very unique and by far, the best of the countless sequels in the series. He seems to reinvent many of the slasher flick clichés. I was actually surprised at a few changes he made in the remake portion of the film. It didn’t feel like a typical horror film. But it did seem like it might have been more powerful if it had focused either on the “before the asylum escape” or afterwards. I felt the final act seemed a bit rushed in an effort to get to the big chase. But it still works. Mr. Zombie (sorry Rob) feels as fresh and unique as a remake to what I consider a masterpiece of horror could possibly feel. If anyone could have made this work, it looks as though he may just have to be Rob Zombie. His Halloween is a brutal assault that brings a face to the myth of Michael Myers.
My rating 7.5/10 -- JimmyO
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