Sunday, September 02, 2007

Halloween review.

Been struggling to write a review for Rob Zombie's Halloween remake for some time. The reason being that it's essentially two different films crudely stitched together - or a 'franken-film.' The first film is the 're-imagining' of the series as Dimension pictures announced when they said they were making this film. The other is soulless, almost shot-for-shot remake of the John Carpenter original.

Zombie's Halloween kicks off with an interesting expansion of the original's prologue. Instead of tempting the ire of horror geeks the world over by re-creating the infamous first-person murder spree that kicked-off the original film, Zombie opts to expand the child Meyers portrait. Unfortunately, this, too, has ticked horror geeks off, who say their beloved monster has been demystified by an explanation of his psychotic behavior. I disagree completely. Unlike Hannibal Rising this new Halloween never tries to explain what turned its protagonist into a serial murderer. No, when the movie begins, Meyers is already a murderer, honing his heartless craft on helpless animals. Could his gruesome murders have been prevented? Maybe, but Zombie makes it a point to reveal that while the bullies, crappy step-dad, and stripper mother didn't help Meyers' situation, they were also not the factors that made him into a killer.

The oddly-named Daeg Faerch does a good job of playing the child Meyers. Blond and pudgy, there's a sense of innocence in the child actor's eyes, even as he commits the most terrible acts on-screen. I was particularly touched by a scene where, after killing his step-dad, sister and her boyfriend, the incarcerated Meyers looks at his mom and says, "When can I go home?"

If Zombie's Halloween was simply content on dwelling in prequel mode, it would have most likely been a decent film. But as the film progresses, and Faerch is replaced by the muscle-bound ex-wrestler Tyler Mane as the adult Meyers, Zombie seems to lose his heart for the material. For starters, all the characters who appeared in the original film are flat and unlikable. But rather than compensate for that weakness by taking the derranged road-less-traveled via placing the dramatic weight on the adult Meyers' shoulders, Zombie does something I never thought he could do. He chickens out. I mean, here is a man who made us feel sympathy for a roving gang of serial murderers in The Devil's Rejects, but with the final two-thirds of Halloween he relegates Meyers to where he has always been in the other films of the series -- the shadows.

In the last hour of the film, Meyers is reduced to the engine of doom in yet another dead teenager movie. And with no dead or endangered teenagers to root for either, the end result left me drowning in a grim-colored sea of apathy.


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