In 1978, John Carpenter presented “Halloween,” a brilliant piece of horror movie magic. It was frightening and interesting, leaving much to the imagination. The score was chilling and the acting was top–notch for the quality of film that it was. The killer, Michael Myers, set the standard for slasher movie villains. He walked and breathed heavily. What made the character so interesting was that very little was known about his past. A simple premise can go a long way, and Carpenter realized this. Instead of clogging the film with an uninteresting back story, he gave a simple, easy to follow premise. Carpenter also did all this on a relatively miniscule budget.
Nearly thirty years later, Rob Zombie (“House of 1000 Corpses”) has sought to re-imagine the story, revive the series if you will. Since the original “Halloween,” the series has become almost a joke. None of the recent films in the franchise have been able to capture the suspense and instill fear in an audience like the original. Zombie saw this and sought to add a new dimension to the character by delving into the psychological aspects of the character. He wants to answer the question “why?”
He fails miserably. What made the Michael Myers character so interesting, like Hannibal Lecter, is that the audience does not know why he is deranged. It adds an element of mystery that makes the character more appealing. Zombie, who served as writer, director, producer and composer, destroys what makes the character so fascinating, instead of making him fresh. While superior to the remakes of “Psycho” and “The Amityville Horror,” it still fails. On top of destroying the mythos of the character, the film is plagued with atrocious dialogue, poor acting, extreme profanity and gruesome violence that merely exists to gross out rather than scare. Zombie fails miserably in his attempt to jumpstart an ailing franchise. He not only delivers the worst film in the “Halloween” series, but the worst piece of garbage I have sat through in the last five years; it is an insult to any “Halloween” fan.
The plot is basically identical to the original, but with a few changes. Zombie presents “his” Michael Myers (played by Daeg Faerch at age ten and Tyler Mane at age 25) as the product of a dysfunctional family, with a stripper mom and her drunken boyfriend, as well as a sexually primiscuous sister. On Halloween night, he kills his oldest sister, her boyfriend and her mom’s boyfriend. Michael is then found guilty of murder and sent to Smith Grove’s Sanitarium, where he is placed under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael soon becomes angrier and more deranged, so much so that he goes mute for fifteen years. One night, the staff decides to transfer Michael to a maximum security prison, but he kills the guards and escapes. Now that he is out, he begins searching for his younger sister (Scout Taylor-Campton), who has been placed into hiding. What results is a gruesome trail that can only end when Michael finds Laurie.
The biggest problem with the film is that Zombie does not know how he wants the audience to perceive Michael Myers. Is he the embodiment of pure evil, as he was in the original? Or is he a troubled child from a dysfunctional home who becomes deranged because of his surroundings? Is he remorseful or is he vengeful? Zombie never fully answers these questions. Instead, he presents Michael Myers as a mishmash of all, and frankly, that just does not work. The character is more intriguing, and more frightening, when we know nothing about him. The audience is supposed to see Michael Myers as pure evil, not some poor child who went insane because of his surroundings. By spending the first 45 minutes of the film on the psychological aspect of the character, Zombie destroys the mystery that makes Michael Myers both interesting and scary.
Not only does Zombie destroy Michael Myers, but he butchers the other characters, mainly Laurie Strode. He cast someone very attractive and not innocent looking. Jamie Lee Curtis was perfect in the original because she looked plain and believable as an innocent, pure heroine. Zombie’s Strode is sexually charged and lacks all purity. However, I digress, because I should have been expecting this; Zombie fills all his films with mindless sexual references and nudity. In this film he even goes so far as to make all the female characters die naked. It would have been fine a few times, but six is just overkill.
Another major downfall of the film is the camera work. Zombie used handheld cameras for most of the attack scenes, resulting in the “shaky camera” effect that has come to plague many Hollywood films. Directors should realize that this does not make the action more realistic, it just makes it harder to see. This director shakes the camera so violently that it could induce motion sickness. The film is also shot extremely dark, particularly during the last half hour, where the screen is nearly black. I understand that Zombie was attempting to present a dark atmosphere, but it renders the end of the film almost unwatchable.
Nothing positive can be said about this film. No redeeming performances and no moments of glory. Everything about this film was awful. Zombie, instead of re-imagining the franchise, further destroyed it. This film was a monumental disaster on all fronts and should be avoided by any self-respecting fan of the original. Hollywood should just learn to leave well enough alone.