Why exactly would anyone want to remake a classic film? With so much to live up to, times five, due to the time tested nostalgia factor, there is almost no conceivable way you can trump the expectations. But if there was one person that I would trust to remake Halloween, it would probably be Rob Zombie. House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were a call back to the classic horror films of the 1970′s. It’s almost like Zombie, and his collected crew, are able to channel Tobe Hooper and the directors of that era. It’s more about mood than anything else. It’s that creepy unsettling feeling that you feel. A mixture of the set design, camera direction, casting, and soundtrack. This is why I knew Rob Zombie would scare the living hell out of us again, with one of horror’s classic characters. But I was wrong.
Zombie’s re-imagining of the John Carpenter 1978 classic went wrong in conception. The concept is simple, and a good one at first glance: Who is Michael Myers? We got a small glimpse of his childhood origin in the original film, but Zombie’s vision was to expand upon this mythology. Because Myers was the key to the first film’s success. Sure, you had Jamie Lee Curtis’ lungs, and Carpenter’s now classic score, but the kids came because of the man in the mask.
In Zombie’s new film we learn why Myers wears the mask, and we even learn why he doesn’t speak. We learn a lot about Michael Myers, and that is problem #1. The reason why we enjoyed his character in the original was because he was such a mystery. It was what we didn’t know, what we didn’t see, what we were forced to make up in our heads.
Zombie’s script paints a picture of his early childhood, with an angry passive aggressive crippled old man, a stripper mother, a young baby sister and a promiscuous teenage sister. The family is a living breathing, walking talking, hick cliche. The step-father yells at Michael and calls him a faggot, because, well, that’s what his paint by numbers character type does in movies. Young Michael likes to kill animals, and one day decides to do the same to a school bully who had been bothering him. We see his anger build, and we understand that he is just projecting the anger thrown upon him. But somehow we relate too much to this kid wearing a clown mask who brutally murders most of his family members on Halloween night. These people have been mean to him and deserve what’s coming to them, right? Well not exactly. But because this is now Michael’s story, we are along for the ride.
So 15 years later, when Michael breaks out of his mental institution, it’s no wonder that we don’t care for his countless victims. No, it’s not that we want to see Michael kill innocent people. But it’s his story we’ve been following this whole time. And by whole time, I mean 45 minutes. Because in Zombie’s Halloween, the first 45 minutes is Myers’ childhood origin story. The second problem comes in because we now begin following the story from the first film, but from Michael’s point of view. Sure, we do cut to the group of teenage girlfriends, and the virtually unnecessary story of Dr. Sam Loomis. But some of the attack scenes are shown from his point of view, so when the masked head shows up behind the glass window, it’s not a scary because, A. We know who is behind the mask, and B. the story has made us relate more to the killer with it’s deceptive point of view storytelling.
And I’m left with so many questions, and not too many answers. How did Michael become “pro wrestler big” while living in a mental institution for all those years? I’m sure they didn’t allow him to lift weights. How does a monster like Myers even attempt to find his younger sister in a town full of teenagers? It seems like one photo from 15 years earlier alone would not be nearly enough to do the trick. With no legal records in the system, it’s not like Myers could have found the information in a computer database. And It’s not like he would be able to access said database if it had existed. Where does Myers get his superhuman like powers? And what even happened to him in the end of the film? It seemed like Myers began his killing spree as a child by only hurting the people who bullied him (which probably explains why he left his mother and baby sister untouched). So why does Michael of a sudden discard his moralist killing tendencies as an adult? And when did he get a chance to hide his classic mask below the floor boards?
Zombie isn’t as much at fault as a director. He did the best he could. Although, this film feels way more mainstream than anything else he’s ever created. The creepy 70′s horror feeling is missing in action. Replaced with extreme close-ups, short focal shots, and at times, Saving Private Ryan-like shaky cam sequences. Halloween is not a bad movie, it’s just not great. It stands in the shadow of a legend. And by today’s standards, Halloween is probably the best American created horror movie in a couple years (but is that really saying much?)
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10