Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Movie Review: Halloween (2007)

Halloween was a tired franchise. Started nearly thirty years ago, the adventures of silent killer Michael Myers had become trite. Some of the many sequels were okay, even entertaining, but none even came close to living up to the creepy simplicity of the original John Carpenter film. That is, until Rob Zombie took over.

I'm no Zombie lover, even though I respected House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects for being absolutely f**ked up movies. The announcement that he would be directing Halloween, a remake, brought excitement among some, trepidation among others, and an optimistic skepticism from me. Could Zombie succeed in making something fresh?

Of course, "fresh" is relative. How can someone make a "fresh" horror movie that is a remake of a timeless classic? Here's how...

This new version of Halloween starts off with Michael Myers as a child. He's an ugly kid, and as such has resorted to his comfort zone behind one of many masks that he has either purchased or bought. Unlike in Carpenter's original, where we are given a minute's teaser before his family is filleted throughout the house, Zombie explores Michael's origins in depth, spending a good thirty or forty minutes before the killer finally and permanently dons his final mask. Some were worried that Zombie's exploration of Michael's roots would take away from the eerie coldness that has made Michael one of the best movie villains ever, but that just doesn't happen. While Zombie does drill into the life of Michael Myers more than ever before, he succeeds in making the killer even more chilling and creepy.

The rest of the movie is more of a straight remake of Carpenter's original, as Michael Myers goes on a bloody rampage. I don't remember much of the original, but even if Zombie's remake is just that, a remake, it's an impressive one. 2007's Halloween is gore-filled and action-packed, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It isn't scary per se, but Zombie certainly maintains a high level of tension.

The only real weakness in the film is the supporting cast. Malcolm McDowell is excellent as Dr. Loomis, but the unlucky victims aren't given enough development to make us care much about them. Scout Taylor-Compton turns in a pretty decent performance as the leading female Laurie Strode, but she's certainly no Jamie Lee Curtis. Of course, it's pretty cruel to make comparisons to the horror queen, so I'll add that she does an adequately good job.

Halloween isn't perfect, and in the end, it is just a remake, but with plenty of bloody violence and a psychological exploration of the boy who becomes Michael Myers, Rob Zombie's version is certainly one of the best of the franchise. In terms of slasher pictures, it is one of the best I've seen in years.

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