Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie
Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween is pretty divisive. I have to commend Zombie for not just doing a straight up remake and trying something different, but fans of the original are rarely happy with any sort of remake. If it strays too far, then it’s too different, and if it sticks too close, then it’s a pointless rehash. You’re never really going to win. I personally think remakes have merit, if nothing else they spark interest in the original. I’m also firmly in the camp of believing that a remake does nothing to effect the original movie. It still exists as it always did. You can’t ruin an older movie with a new version, they are separate entities after all. They may share a title, but they are different movies.
That being said, Rob Zombie did mess up in a couple of big ways. The issue with Halloween (2007) is that its biggest strength is also its greatest weakness. Half of the movie is dedicated to Michael’s childhood and his evolution into a killer and subsequent incarceration. The scenes with him and Loomis (played here by the perfectly cast Malcolm McDowell) are terrific. The problem is that with half of the movie dealing with Michael’s past, the events from the original movie are relegated to the latter half of the film, meaning Zombie crammed a full movies worth of material into around forty five minutes, subsequently leaving the audience very little time to get to know the rest of the characters.
One of the things that makes a great horror movie is the connection the viewer has with the protagonist, but if you’re only given ten minutes with them it makes it more difficult to sympathise with their torturous predicaments. Character development is important, and here we spend more than an hour with the antagonist. As interesting as that is, it takes away the impact when Michael Myers picks off his victims. If your characters are barely developed in any way the audience isn’t going to care when they meet there end, it’s a shame because this is a well-cast movie. Many big names of the genre make appearances, some are little more than brief cameos but to name a few we have Dee Wallace, Ken Foree, Brad Dourif, Udo Kier, and Clint Howard and there are a bunch more. It does start to feel like a bit of a gimmick after a while but it was fun to see them nonetheless.
Rob Zombie has always shown a penchant for displaying horrific acts of violence and that holds true here. Though none of the kills are truly stand out in my opinion, they are all well done. The same can be said of most of the movie, it’s a well-made remake. It’s well-written, well-shot and the performances are strong. Scout Taylor-Compton is very likable as Laurie and she’s fine in the role, the problem being that she’s only in the latter half of the film. Sheri Moon Zombie playing Michael’s mother is great, she skilfully conveys her love for her son along with her inability to cope with his awful acts of violence, and as I already mentioned Malcolm McDowell is perfectly cast and he gives a great performance.
Michael as an adult taking the form of a hulking giant wielding his knife with skill we’ve come to expect from his character is interesting, but why and how he got so big is never explained and it’s pretty illogical, as most mental asylums don’t have gyms or give their patients access to steroids, though Michael clearly found some way to juice; his giant stature does make him quite imposing but it’s a little bit stupid all the same. Michael has always been a killing machine but he was never a giant. Tyler Mane, who dons the iconic mask here does a good job but I think if the role had gone to someone a little shorter it would have been more in keeping with the Michael Myer’s we all know and love.
The burning question upon this movie’s release was is this going to be as good as the original? Well no it wasn’t, but it never really stood a chance. Judging it as its own movie though, while I can’t say it’s great, is definitely a decent horror film. It’s not up there with the Devil’s Rejects but it’s one of Rob Zombie’s best movies (I have yet to see 31). I know this movie got a lot of hate upon release but that is the way of remakes and Halloween is beloved by so many horror fans that it’s hard to imagine a world where news of a remake wasn’t going to be met with scorn. I personally think a lot of that hate was unwarranted. The disdain for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is more understandable and this is miles better than that piece of shit. I think if that had come out before this, fans would have likely been far more forgiving. Rob Zombie clearly took this movie seriously and he tried to make something worthy of original. He didn’t quite get there, but he tried. Most remakes are half-hearted cash grabs (see The Hitcher, and Prom Night remakes for proof of that), but Zombie clearly respected the original movie. The director of The Hitcher remake had never even seen the original before getting the job.
If you’re curious and you’ve yet to check it out, give this remake a shot. Though it has its flaws it’s not a shameless cash grab and if filmmakers follow this remake as an example, eventually we’ll get a truly great one.