Home > Reviews > REVIEW: Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

REVIEW: Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Halloween (2007)Directed by: Rob Zombie
Produced by: Malek Akkad, Rob Zombie, Andy Gould
Written by: Rob Zombie
Edited by: Glenn Garland
Cinematography by: Phil Parmet
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daeg Faerch, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Kristina Klebe, Hanna R. Hall, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace, Pat Skipper, Daryl Sabara, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Danny Trejo
Based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Year: 2007

 

Good grief. I knew this movie was going to be bad just by virtue of being one of the many films from the last decade to be a remake of a classic horror film, but this was ridiculous. Yes, after eight films – one of those being a reboot, and the final being a sequel to that reboot – Hollywood saw fit to throw the Halloween series under the bus and give it the straight up remake treatment with none other than Rob Zombie at the helm. Normally, it would be cause for concern if you had heard that a musician was taking over directing duties for a film franchise, but I’d heard that Rob Zombie had an admirable enough talent for directing horror films with The Devil’s Rejects, and so it wasn’t exactly as illogical as it may initially have sounded when he was hired to write and direct this movie. That being said, however, whatever talent he may have displayed there is noticeably absent from his remake of Halloween.

Halloween (2007) - Michael's first kill

The core story of Michael Myers committing his first murder as a child and then escaping from the mental asylum as a dangerous adult and proceeding to kill off the friends of Laurie Strode in his old neighborhood remains in this remake, but, in the name of producing something you haven’t entirely seen before, Zombie’s take expands upon those opening few minutes of the original film (and, from the looks of it, completely revising the tone, too) by exploring the events of Myers’ childhood which led up to his future killing spree. The consideration is admirable, of course, and it’s always nice when a remake isn’t entirely a note-for-note retelling of the same exact film audiences have seen for decades prior. While this could have been an interesting subject to explore, however, Zombie ultimately makes some of the biggest mistakes in these scenes.

We all know the stories about how serial killers start out as misunderstood, often troubled youths calling out for attention but never being understood by others, or maybe you’re also familiar with the ones about how future serial killers can be identified by their tendencies to take pleasure in the torture and deaths of small animals. Here we learn Myers had all these qualities in spades and then some. Young Michael was bullied relentlessly at school by some older kids and, at home by his slutty older sister and his mother’s latest emotionally cruel lover who takes great pleasure in calling Michael names over his perceived sensitivity. These are the prime motivators for Michael snapping and murdering them all brutally.

Halloween (2007) - Daeg Faerch, Malcolm McDowell

Try to keep in mind that the original film showed a relatively normal, possibly even idyllic home before Michael took his first life within the first four minutes of its runtime. His parents were clearly well off enough to look like they were coming home from a rather nice night out together. Rather than expand upon this quality, perhaps showing that his waspy parents were inattentive to his needs and exposing their façade of a happy home life, however, Zombie has here chosen to go the route of making everything edgy, gritty, and grimy, right down to the family’s sweaty hair, the dank and filthy interior of the home, the nasty fights that break out with everyone swearing and screaming at each other, and the mother making ends meet by stripping for a living. Because of course she does.

After the killings finally happen, we then get to the worst part of the movie: the drawn out scenes of Dr. Loomis (portrayed in over-the-top fashion by Malcolm McDowell) psychoanalyzing an increasingly distant Michael and explaining the deranged kid’s psychology to his increasingly distraught and hopeless mother. These scenes dispense a lot of information, none of it being very useful since all they ever talk about is how screwed up Michael is – which, of course, we already know because he slaughtered a bunch of people without much of a care in the world beyond why he can’t go back home. We also learn why he wears a mask, which is presented as some sort of ominous revelation but isn’t really since all it really is said to be is that it helps Michael cut himself off from the rest of the world. Seriously, thank you, Rob Zombie. Wouldn’t have been able to figure that out on my own, you know? We also get to witness his eventual escape as an adult which, as is the norm in this movie, involves some abuse and rape and such. Because this is an edgier remake of an already edgy slasher film.

Halloween (2007) - Michael imprisoned

That’s where the movie finally finds its way back to the original film’s plot again (albeit with a few well known elements from the sequels thrown in for good measure), jumping forward to modern day where we are introduced to Laurie Strode, played this time around by Scout Taylor-Compton. Laurie in this film is a lot more like your typical movie teenage girl. She wears glasses, but she’s nowhere near as bookish as Jamie Lee Curtis was, even without them. The original film portrayed Laurie as a sort of self-repressed girl who rarely gave in to her inhibitions. This had the effect of making the film a sort of allegory for Laurie overcoming her fears and inhibitions through the terror of Michael Myers. Nu-Laurie is still a babysitter who is watching after a couple kids while her friends go off to have sex with their boyfriends, but there’s just something very off about her personality here. She openly talks about sexual promiscuity in front of her parents, pretends to be dry humping her friends in front of the kids, and is otherwise also your typical obnoxious teenage movie girl. It’s not so much that I wanted to see her suffer, but her lack of inhibitions alters the character in such a way that, unlike Michael, makes this Laurie Strode almost unrecognizable as being the same character as the original.

Halloween (2007) - Danielle Harris, Scout Taylor-Compton, Kristina Klebe

Laurie’s general dislikabilty isn’t helped by the fact that her friends are exponentially more obnoxious than her in their personalities. They’re loud, snotty people who regard others with disdain, and they rope Laurie in with them, effectively making this like watching the Plastics from Mean Girls get thrown into a really gory slasher film. I’d be amused by this if it weren’t also for the fact that the film dispatches them in rather ugly ways. The constant exploitation of female bodies in slasher films is really amped up in Zombie’s Halloween. Perhaps it was only present in the unrated director’s cut I watched, but, regardless, I found the scenes of full frontal, sexualized nudity on the part of the girls to be pretty disturbing when they’re matched with the bloody violence. I’m sure that was the intent – even someone with the name “Rob Zombie” must surely have some sense of what he’s doing and saying when he portrays that sort of thing – but the remainder of the film is just so horrific, this added element of disturbing imagery just sends the film toppling over the edge in the most awkward way possible. It’s hard to take anything in the film seriously.

Halloween (2007) - Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor-Compton

Halloween 2007 aims to go deeper by exposing the backstory of Michael Myers, but, in doing so, it sets the film down a path of revisionism to the point where Zombie may as well have just made an original film that was made in homage to the original rather than futzing around with it and ruining two characters who were just fine in the first place. I understand the urge to explore the psychology of one of the more well-known and well-trodden movie villains of all time, but learning that Michael Myers was the product of a caricature of the typical broken home situation is pretty anticlimactic and predictable, not to mention completely different from what the original had portrayed his family life as being. (There’s also the problematic casting of the gigantic Tyler Mane as the adult Michael, resulting in a movie that at once wants us to understand the character on a human level while also making him an unusually monstrous physical presence.)

I’m all for different spins if you must reboot or remake, usually, but when a film basically claims to tell the “untold” story of a famous character and then goes about completely revising what you’ve already known about them in ways that completely contradict that information, that’s when I take issue. That the film isn’t very good in the first place, apart from some generally well done tension building towards the end, just hurts the film even more. Halloween was never cinema’s greatest achievement, but the simplicity of the story and the ambiguity of Michael’s motivations made for a film that surprisingly made it a lot more entertaining as a movie and meaningful as a film, something its unpleasant, poorly constructed remake will likely never achieve.

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 1 / 5

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