by Rob Zombie
Jump ahead a few years. Michael’s turned into Tyler Mane from X-Men, which is never a good thing. His psychiatrist, Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) has spent the better part of fifteen years trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with Michael, but has made no progress other than to see that he has no humanity. Again, I could have told you that. He’s completed a book on seeing to Michael all these years, which I can’t really imagine is all that long: he had a shitty childhood, stabbed some people to death, repressed it, now he’s 7 foot 2 and doesn’t talk. Sounds a page-turner. On the eve of the book’s release and Loomis’ tour to support Michael decides he has his own tour to embark on and breaks free from the asylum, killing a bunch of people along the way. On his way back to Haddonfield Michael stops at a truck stop and kills a guy (Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead) for his clothes and buck-knife. So, who’s due to be wrapped in plastic and priced by the pound? Practically everybody, but specifically Laurie Strode and everyone close to her. Who’s Laurie Strode you ask, other than the twenty-first century version of the Jamie Lee Curtis character from the ’79 film? Well Zombie gave her an extra layer missing from the original which does sort of explain Michael’s rampage but I’ll leave that secret aside for now on the off chance you haven’t seen it or care. But then I have to explain it in part 2 of this review, so…whatever. Anyway Laurie is Haddonfield’s most reputable babysitter and despite being weirdly inappropriate seems to be a good daughter and student. She’s certainly a model child in comparison to her friends Annie Brackett and Lynda, who seem to get off on shedding the oppressively boring and buttoned-down standards of Haddonfield. To get some idea of the difference between each girl, let’s compare their plans for Halloween night. Lynda’s going to Michael Meyer’s abandoned house with her nerdy boyfriend to have sex and drink beer all night whereas Laurie will be babysitting Tommy Doyle, the little boy down the block, while simultaneously covering for Annie, who is going to spending the night with her boyfriend as well. That means being saddled with two kids instead of just Tommy when the killings go down.
Halloween has problems but it also does enough right for me to brush those problems aside. The early scenes of a young Michael Meyers are well directed but don’t add up to enough to make themselves necessary beyond setting up the third act reveal. But he did do more with the ideas presented in the original Halloween than your average maker of remakes. Take the misleading Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning as a counterpoint. Do we go to the beginning? Sure, kinda. Do we learn anything. No, not really, other than that everyone at the Hewitt household is insane which we already knew. That’s not really exposition so much as it is what the rest of the world thinks of the American south. So, I give it to Rob Zombie for trying to get us to view a crazed killer as someone with a past and a family, even if ultimately we can’t side with him cause, well, he’s a crazed killer. Technically, though the film is quite well made and the performances are mostly great, especially those of the children at the film’s core. I rather like Doug Faersch as the young Michael Meyers, who does the steely gaze of the murderer quite well. I also really liked Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie. Now people have complained that she’s too irritating but guess what? So are a lot of teenagers and I liked rooting for someone I feel like I knew rather than the clichés that usually fill these sorts of films. Laurie and her friends remind me of girls I knew in High School who would embarrass each other as Lynda does when they first spy Michael on the streets. Laurie actually sort of looks and acts like an old girlfriend (who was also a babysitter, coincidentally) and if that doesn’t say something about her acting or Zombie’s direction I don’t know what does. Don’t tell me you don’t know someone who acts like this and who would behave this way in a crisis. So I guess if Zombie’s goal was to humanize the story and its characters in a way that Carpenter’s original and most other remakes didn’t, then he's succeeded. My problems are really that the things I like, the humanity of the performances, the capable direction, the sympathy in the characters and so forth are all mired in a film about an inexplicably indestructible guy who murders people with a big fucking knife. There is really only so much to a film like this, despite Zombie’s best efforts to fill it with likable characters, three-dimensional heroes and villains and his best subtle stylistic flares.
by Rob Zombie