This will not be a long review, as Jeremy and Devin and Alex have already unloaded on this truly terrible film in far more delicious ways that I ever could want to. That said, I felt like it’d be a lost opportunity not to bring my take to the mix just to soil your eyes with more Halloween discussion.
Let me preface by saying that this film didn’t rape my childhood or anything like that. I like the original Halloween quite a bit but don’t worship it like many do. I enjoy it and appreciate it and as a force of nature the Michael Meyers of that film is amazing and brutal and unforgettable. It accomplished a lot with very little and serves as a seminal effort in the slasher genre, one I generally don’t like but that’s more because of how efficiently and soundly it was done by John Carpenter than because of any failings of Halloween itself. I don’t have the hardwired love of the franchise strong enough for any sequel, prequel, or re-imagining to scuttle the goodwill I have for the thing. That said, Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween didn’t stick its dick into my childhood and fire a searing seedblast but it did do some untoward things in and around my childhood. I think it made my childhood gay. Maybe animal gay. I think my childhood is going to need some therapy or else it’s going to make love to furry little boy dogs, squirrels, and chickens. Rob Zombie made me animal gay. Thanks Rob!
The bad decisions are in adundance here, from the dialogue in the first act that tries way too hard to represent cool and edgy dysfunctional familyspeak all the way to the seemingly endless climax where the villainous Michael Meyers faces his most powerful foe yet… an old house. He spends more time punching, stabbing, ramming into, and smashing his old house than all the victims in the film combined. Well, aside from the millions who will watch this film. They are his ultimate victim but that’s for that unnamed and innocent mass to discover.
Instead of telling the story as the original did, Zombie’s [the auteur’s real name: Mr. Robert Livingdead] delves into what made Michael Meyers a Shatner-faced killing machine. Because we care. Michael Meyers is that random evil lurking beneath our noses. The quiet one who snaps. Why they do it is irrelevant. When we want motive we watch a Lumet film. When we want to be scared by faceless evil we watch Halloween movies. The more we know about a villain the less scary they are. Seeing Michael Meyers as a sloth-like animal torturer who hatefully lives amongst his hateful family members makes him worse than scary. It makes him boring. Yeah, he’s picked on by everyone but the little shit deserves it. You wear clothes two sizes too small and parade about in a clown mask, people are gonna take the piss out of you. Now, if Zombie’s film really wanted to re-imagine Michael Meyers as a boy who channeled all of his rage into becoming an online film critic he’d be onto something, but as it stands this version of Michael Meyers still isn’t well-rounded enough to justify his descent into evil. He snaps at the dumbest time for the dumbest reason and the execution of his schoolmate and then his family feels less like a classic origin and more like the stuff the kids like to call "torture porn". The camera enjoys the death, it lingers on the cutting and bashing and slow death throes of the victim not as an invisible looking glass into the horror but rather as a weird instigator to it. Michael Meyers’ killing in this movie is never cool, which I would applaud, but it’s not cautionary either. It’s like the director plotted out the gristle and shot it and didn’t bother to think why it was happening. It’s just a series of cold executions without reward. When Michael Meyers kills in the original film, it’s got meaning. He’s filling a void. He’s got a plan. He savors the deaths, the last drips of life. It’s why his puppy dog tilted head stare became so memorable. What was also so memorable was his inexplicable resiliance, grace, and efficiency at ending lives. Rob Zombie’s movie throws logic out the window and not only shows us a Michael Meyers who would be allowed to have a cell filled with homemade masks that fuel his bloodlust but also one who’d be the size and build of a pro wrestler. The fact that the murderous line between some pro wrestlers and the fictional Michael Meyers has thinned is a scary irony not lost on me but while we expect Jason Voorhees to be this retarded hulk who’s built to take machetes to the sternum, Michael Meyers was scary because he wasn’t a physican specimen.
Remember when I said this wouldn’t be a long review? Oops.
Michael Meyers sucks. He’s not interesting. He’s not scary and worst of all, with all this origin stuff he’s not a force of nature like in the original. He’s a little boy who couldn’t handle his shit and kills everyone in his path because of it. He had a poor upbringing. His family didn’t love him enough. In what alternate universe does this make an icon more iconic? When the end does come, it’s ineffective because we have a half hour to meet the girls who were the focal point of the original film. There’s no attachment to them. Even Laurie Strode [played fine but with incessant screaming by the cute as a button Scout Taylor-Compton] is nearly impossible to care about because we don’t have the time to know her. Yes she’s a babysitter. Yes she’s close with her mischief-driven pals. Yes she is secretly related to Michael Meyers but who gives a damn? The last act of the film is all about killin’ kids and smashing houses and it’s just too much for one film. If Zombie intended to create the Michael Meyers origin story, he should have just pulled a Hannibal Rising and made a shitty movie that took the mystique away from the title character…
Wait, he did! And he didn’t even need a whole prequel to do it. On that level I guess he succeeded.
The thing is: I want to like this. Rob Zombie kicked ass with The Devil’s Rejects. He seemed to be at least the right guy to make this movie as a neat counterweight to the original. Now I wonder if he needs a figurative slap on the wrist and a stint in director jail to build his stamina and make a horror film that doesn’t reek of exploitation and coast on lame, excessively vulgar conversations from the horror icons of yesteryear who may not deserve the special attention they’re given in his films.
Devin was spot on when he assessed that this film feels like something shot between Hall of Shame autograph sessions at Comic-Con. Casting is key in movies like this, and though I respect the fact that Zombie chose to give his favorite horror stalwarts roles in this, there’s no grace or logic applied to their casting. To simply have folks like Richard Lynch, Udo Kier, Tom Towles, Bill Mosely, Sid Haig, Sybil Danning, and all the other aging pros isn’t enough. They have to be able to add something to the film other than the distraction of seeing them. Not that I was into the film, but I was taken out of the film several times as these sagging mini-legends crossed the frame. I’d have been just as happy if a portion of the budget went towards paying those folks not to be in the film just so the illusion of storytelling could continue. That said, some of the folks do acquit themselves admirably.
Damn. I just don’t get it. How on Earth can this not at least be creepy? Or funny? Or interesting?
There’s really so much not to like about this film I think I should just write monthly addendums to this review citing the many ways in which I hate it.
As an aside, Hanna Hall this is to you:
You are a good friend and a great actress. I love you to death and seeing you here only makes my crush on you creepier and with visual aids, but I can’t keep quiet my distaste for this film. It’s balls.
Also, who murdered Malcolm McDowell? Because the guy in this film isn’t Malcolm McDowell. He’s a non-actor with a sterling beard who looks and sounds like Malcolm McDowell but it ain’t him. Either that or the real Malcolm McDowell was bit by one of those mosquitos that target the acting gland. As much as I hated the kid who played Michael Meyers and as much as I hated the interfamilial skirmishes in the film’s first act [how the heck do you waste William Forsythe?], Malcolm McDowell’s performance is apartheid inducing. His Dr. Loomis is so weak that Donald Pleasance is spinning in his grave AND HE’S CREMATED IN AN URN.
John Carpenter’s lungs are spinning in their grave. Debra Hill is spinning in her grave. Peter Graves is in spinning class. Poseiden just puked into the sea. The gravespin is increasing as I type this. Fuck it, they might as well start manufacturing rotisserie coffins for anyone who saw the original because the whirring sound you’ll be hearing may sound like box office cash registers dinging affirmative Halloween action but it’s actually the budding torque of dead Halloween fans in heavy rotation. This is a blight on a very promising directorial career and the reason I want to go fuck a man-raccoon.
I would say that this film is subpar.