Another remake today and Matthew Bowers, why did you let me pick this category??
Tomorrow’s movies are fun. I promise.
Make sure you check out Matthew’s Day 1 of this nonsense over at veryaware.com. He watched both versions of The Fly. He made a better choice than I did.
Halloween, 2007. Dir. Rob Zombie, Written by Rob Zombie. Starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Made.
I thought about rewatching the original Halloween this week but figured that since I’ve seen it so many times, and I’ve already talked a lot about John Carpenter, I would just focus on Rob Zombie’s remake. I’m going to admit that I am really sad about that decision right now. I love the original and while I didn’t hate this remake, it mostly just made me want to go back to the beginning and watch John Carpenter’s masterpiece.
Alas, I didn’t add the old Halloween to my queue and now I’m just stuck without it. Such is life.
Now I just have the remake to talk about.
For anyone who has seen and loves the original as I do, it seemed ridiculous that they were adding this title to the remake pile. Wasn’t ruining Texas Chainsaw Massacre enough?! I avoided this remake until now, even though I haven’t hated Rob Zombie’s films, just because I didn’t feel there was a need to “reboot” this series, as they say. But then it went on to be a crazy success at the box office, Rob Zombie got to make a sequel, and yeah. The remakes just keep on coming.
That being said, I decided to try and watch this movie with as open a mind as possible. I just finished being traumatized by I Spit on Your Grave, couldn’t be worse than that? Right?
And it’s not! Yay!
It’s not terrible. The question remains though, did this film need to be made?
I don’t know.
To be fair, and I know other people have made this point, the Halloween series has stagnated. Like most of these franchises, the films just get worse as they go along. They tried to freshen it up with Halloween H20 (who thought that title was a good idea?) which, I mean, I had a crush on Josh Hartnett at the time so I didn’t completely hate it. When I was 15.
Then they tried again with Resurrection. I never made it through that entire film. Maybe next year I can do a month of terrible sequels and try again. Or not.
So then we get to this remake. And you have to ask, is it really so bad to try to “reboot” a series that has been falling pretty flat for a long, long time. Maybe not?
I don’t think this movie is all that great. But Rob Zombie does try a few interesting things, he does attempt to make this film his own. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn’t.
The first half of the film is actually more backstory than remake, delving into Michael’s childhood, exploring the transformation from child to monster. I think Zombie’s instinct to start here was a good one. This section of the film is by far much more compelling than the second half, the remake half. The remake half of the film lacks energy, creativity, and basically just ends up being a highlight reel of what made the original so great, minus the greatness. This first half though lets Zombie really take over the material and make something that feels like his own but still feels like it belongs to the Halloween mythology.
I don’t love all of it but a lot of it works. It raises some interesting questions, introduces interesting characters, and gives us a Michael that is both sympathetic and horrifying. The child part of Michael is a sad little boy whose mother is trying her best in a shitty, shitty situation. The monster part of Michael is hiding behind locked doors, becoming more dominant as the boy is continually beaten down by the world around him.
I love the character of Michael’s mother, Deborah Myers (played by Sheri Moon Zombie) but I’m actually a little underwhelmed by the backstory given to the Myers family. The mother is a stripper, the sister is a slut, and the step-father is an asshole. It all just feels too pat and easy. Of course Michael is going to have a weird view of sex if his mother makes a living taking her clothes off, which is no secret, and his sister ditches him to screw her boyfriend. I get the idea behind these decisions, but I dunno, I just feel like it all could have been a little less obvious.
Sheri Moon Zombie is great though, balancing the different aspects of her character well and despite awful circumstances always coming across as a loving, dedicated mother. She’s trying her best and it’s tragic to see how her best is just never close to being enough.
Anyone who knows the story of Halloween knows this next bit but maybe Spoilers, this is your warning.
Of course when your son is Michael Myers, you’re in over your head whether you know it or not. After watching Michael repeatedly humiliated, we finally find ourselves on that fateful Halloween night. The past crimes of Michael are not just the stuff of legend in this film. In this film, we get to see them happen. And this part is, for me, the only truly scary part of the film. Even though we know that Michael is going to kill his family, witnessing a 10-year-old boy brutally murder three people is intense. And these scenes generally work for me. They’re tense, the music is good, I like how they’re shot. Michael is terrifying.
This is what we want out of a Halloween film. Sadly, it doesn’t last.
After this one effective sequence, we end up in the institution with Michael and Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Loomis (yay). This part of the movie is… odd…
I mean, I get that we’re watching the final transformation from boy to monster. And we’re also getting to know Dr. Loomis. But, and this is the same problem I had with the middle of I Spit on Your Grave, not much happens. You feel really bad for his mom as she watches her son slip away, you question Dr. Loomis’s motives as he seems more focused on writing his book than actually helping Michael, and Michael makes a lot of masks.
It seems to me that if you have a disturbed child that you are one on one trying to help, when you watch him getting worse, wouldn’t you do something about that? The isolation is obviously making him crazy. Maybe keeping a child in a cell is a bad idea? Just maybe?
Also bad idea, leaving a REAL fork with a violent psychopath. How did they think that was going to work out well?
When we finally get to “present day” and Michael’s eventual escape, the movie loses me almost immediately. Maybe this is because I just finished watching a bunch of awful rape in a movie, but in the Unrated Director’s Cut they include this completely unnecessary rape of another patient. She’s the only other patient we ever see in this place and I don’t understand why they had to include this. But it’s just an intro to the second part of the movie which instead of being the study in tension that is John Carpenter’s original, is a gratuitous show of brutality. And terrible people. Did I mention the terrible people?
I hate all of the characters in the “remake” portion of the movie. They may be silly, but I generally like the characters in the original. The teenagers in this movie, the adults, even the two kids Laurie is babysitting, they’re all awful. Even Laurie is awful!
It’s really disappointing.
I won’t go too far into this part of the movie, because what is there to say other than that it’s a poor recreation of the original and suffers from the same problems that most remakes suffer from. I think that about sums up my feelings.
It’s a shame too because I think Zombie could have done something a lot better with this movie. I haven’t seen them in a while but I remember not hating House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. He certainly has a style that is his own. And I didn’t really feel like that was on display here. Or maybe it was. Maybe that was part of the problem.
In any case, I feel more disappointed by this movie than anything else. It had potential, it had some interesting ideas to update the franchise, but ultimately it failed to live up to that potential.
I’d say you can watch this for the first half if you’re really curious but ultimately I’m calling this one a pass.