Rarely do I see a movie that can be summed up with one word, but this one can. Brutal. Rob Zombie’s take on John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween is nothing short of brutal, but is all the better as such.
Zombie takes a different approach than Carpenter did, though. He explores what made Michael Myers become the Michael Myers we know and love today by delving into his childhood. Obviously coming from a troubled and broken home, young Michael (Daeg Faerch) exhibits all the earmarks of a future sociopath. From the cruelty towards animals, violent outbursts to peers and the deeply anti-social behaviour, it’s everything a growing boy needs to become one of the more vicious and prolific killers in cinematic history. After brutally murdering his mom’s boyfriend, his half sister and her boyfriend, having saved only baby Boo, Michael is remanded to Smith’s Grove Mental Institution under the care of famed child psychologist Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Seventeen years later, Myers escapes and goes on a bloody rampage to find his long lost baby sister, now going by the name Laurie Strode (Scout-Taylor Compton). And that’s where Zombie’s flick starts to mirror Carpenter’s.
I will actually get into the debate of for or against remakes at a later date, but a film review is not the appropriate forum. All I can say, is the first half of the movie is what I expected from Zombie, the second half, I expected more.
Remakes are good when the new filmmaker improves on the existing story, and he did that with the first half of his film. Never before had we been privy to the gory details of Myers’ past. We kind of knew, but only in flashbacks and references, which don’t really do the story justice. For a somewhat horror geek like myself, I was excited to see the backstory. It opened up new dimensions to the character of Michael.
But the back half was the carbon copy of Carpenter’s film. It was clearly updated, as Zombie did more, nudity and violence-wise, than Carpenter could have hoped to have done 30 years ago, and it was in Zombie’s somewhat distinct personal style. But I couldn’t help but think that if I had walked out of the theatre once Michael escaped, if I would actually miss any of the story. I don’t think I did.
I really want to sing the praises of Faerch. This young kid came in and gave a horror icon the third dimension he had so distinctly been lacking till now. For a 10 year old, that’s just amazing craftsmanship. I want to see more of this kid’s work.
Keep an eye out for interesting cameos popping up throughout the film. Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, plays Myers stripper mom. Horror legend Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) plays a trucker who suffers the wrath of Michael. Celebrated character actors Danny Trejo and Clint Howard put in some good work on the film. But perhaps the biggest coup for horror fans in general, Halloween fans specifically, was the casting of Danielle Harris in the second female lead. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, Harris played Jamie Lloyd in Halloweens 4 and 5.
When all is said and done, you should only go see this if you’re really, really into horror films. It’s effective in the scares, but if you’re a purist, rent or buy the original instead.
I don’t recommend this for the faint of heart. Lots and lots of blood. But then again I’m a sick, twisted bastard, so the gory violence of modern horror flicks entertains me.