Reel Rewind – Halloween (2007)

Halloween (R)

Directed by: Rob Zombie

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

When director Gus Van Sant dare to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho, critics and audiences ripped him to shreds. Not only was the move unheard of, but the end result was a pointless shot-for-shot rehash that just highlighted how much of a master Hitchcock really was.

When it was announced Rob Zombie was going to remake Halloween, the classic slasher film of the 1970s that was inspired by Psycho, horror fans had their doubts. What could possibly be achieved by remaking a film that many would say had nothing wrong with it in the first place? But instead of setting up his shots to copy those in the original, Rob Zombie took an entirely different approach and came up with a decent re-imagining of a classic.

In a small, quiet town called Haddonfield, Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) lives with his dysfunctional, white trash family. His mother (Sheri Moon Zombie)  is a stripper, her boyfriend verbally abuses him and makes sleazy advances toward his teenage sister and he is often bullied at school. When the school principal calls a meeting with Michael’s parents over some disturbing behaviour, he invites child psychologist Doctor Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) to sit in.

Dr Loomis warns Michael’s mother that his behaviour is dangerously close to psycopathic tendancies. She doesn’t believe him, but on Halloween night, Michael finally snaps, killing his entire family except his baby sister while his mother is at work. He is locked up in a psychiatric ward for 15 years but Dr Loomis is unable to get into his mind – and eventually Michael stops talking alotgether.

When Michael (Tyler Mane) escapes as an adult, Loomis is convinced he will head back to his home town to finish what he started when he was just a child. When Michael arrives in Haddonfield, he dons the iconic white mask and begins stalking three high school friends Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton), Linda (Kristina Klebe) and Annie (Danielle Harris).

The first two thirds of Rob Zombie’s version of the life of Michael Myers is surprisingly effective. He cleverly delves into what makes a psychopath and answers many questions Halloween fans have had for decades about why he kills. And the answers are satisfying.

The use of hand held camerwork is put to good usein these early scenes, creating a home life that would make anyone want to pick up a knife. It is rob Zombie’s most mature work, after making the abysmal 1970s horror homage House of 1000 Corpses and the nasty The Devil’s Rejects. It also shows his respect for the original Halloween.

The later scenes that have Michael stalking the three girls and Dr Loomis trying to convince the town sheriff (Brad Dourif) that he is dandangerous  are closer to the original but they are clunky. They move along at a pace that is far too quick, making them seem incidental to the story. It also eliminates any potential suspense becasue we don’t spend the time getting to know the victims like we did in the first one.

Zombie also goes a bit too far at the end with a prolonged climactic sequence. But despite some negative points, this is possibly the best remake in quite a while. It has its own style and expands on the original concept instead of simply rehashing it. Halloween fans need not fret, this remake is far superior to even some of the sequels.

As appeared in Examiner Newspapers 2007

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