Runtime: 1 hr 49 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch
A perversely violent and dishonest piece of trash.
Review by: JerrySaravia
Added: 8 years ago
Rob Zombie's "Halloween" re-imagining is a perversely violent and dishonest piece of trash that never comes close to the spirit and sheer horror of the John Carpenter classic. At once histrionic and mind-numbingly violent to the point of outdoing bloody mayhem in even "Saw" or its slew of torture porn counterparts, this Halloween movie is a pointless disgrace.
Rob Zombie's "Halloween" brings back Michael Myers as the unstoppable killer with the William Shatner mask who preys on his victims on Halloween. That is fine with me since that is what John Carpenter's film and its infinite sequels showed. But Zombie also wants to show Michael's family life which consists of an obnoxious sister (Hanna Hall), a disabled, lecherous and loud stepfather (William Forsythe), and a caring mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) who works at a strip joint (I dislike the phrase but this is white trash hell). Michael also likes to kill cats, dogs and hamsters, thus paving the way for humans to be his next victims. These include a vile school bully and Michael's family, with the exception of his mother and his little baby sister whom he loves. How nice.
Flash forward to fifteen years later where Michael is held at Smith's Grove Institute where his patient psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), has given up on Michael. Michael eventually escapes Smith's Grove but not before he kills a few security guards and a janitor. Then he finds a truck he can use to go back to his hometown of Haddonfield, but he has to kill the truck driver first. Then he finds his long-lost sister Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) and kills her parents and, yes, the slaughter continues.
Rob Zombie aims to be ambitious but the attempt at psychoanalyzing Michael Myers doesn't wash. For one, when you show Michael as a kid who tortures and kills animals and humans, and has no memory of what he had done, you are asking the audience to see Michael Myers as some latter-day serial killer. Of course, Michael is no ordinary serial killer, as we plainly see in the only intense and frightening scenes in the film where young Michael is interviewed by Dr. Loomis. There is a quiet unease about those scenes. But then Zombie lingers on every single murder with such a perverse attention to detail that you might want to gag. This movie has a bigger mortality rate than most movies and Zombie seems to punish us with extreme slicing and dicing (only the school bully murder works since we feel the bully didn't fully deserve to die). Beyond that, Zombie never lets up for showing how many ways a knife can be thrusted into someone's body, or how a baseball bat or a wooden log can be used to crush bones and break bodies.
I am not a prude when it comes to violence but after enduring one grisly murder after another, I grew weary of this "Halloween" movie. I've seen the sequels and none of them come close to this torturous display of brutality. And when Michael returns to Haddonfield, we meet Laurie's teenage friends and, before you can say who Danielle Harris is playing, they are all slaughtered without much human interest or a care in the world. This leaves Laurie who hides and hides from Michael long past the point of caring, screaming at the highest pitch while Michael tears down the basement and the attic looking for her. Yawn.
The acting is also high-pitched consisting of actors who spend a lot of time hollering and screaming. I don't expect great subtlety in a "Halloween" movie but give me the subdued Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance any day. Overall in terms of actors, McDowell is an uncomfortable fit as the good doctor, Dee Wallace and Brad Dourif give largely blink-and-you'll-miss performances, and the teens are too bland and dare I say anonymous, including Scout Taylor-Compton as the disarming Laurie who makes sexual comments galore (again, where is the timidness of Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie?)
John Carpenter's "Halloween" is a machine-like supernatural thriller with the machine-like precision of its monstrous Michael Myers. It was atmospheric and scary as hell, but it also did not dwell on grisliness and dementia. There was violence in the film but it was fairly limited and imaginatively done with shadows and haunting compositions (I can't forget Michael's white mask suddenly appearing behind Laurie or the way his fist finally bursts through a door). I am not going to say that Rob Zombie shouldn't make a film where we get insight on Michael and his murderous impulses. But the movie only tells us that Michael kills without provocation necessarily and without remorse, and he will kill those who nurture him except his mother and his baby sister. And then we are back in Haddonfield for mayhem as usual.