Opening Friday, August 31
Tyler Mane as Adult Michael Myers
Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Sam Loomis
Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode
Sheri Moon Zombie as Deborah Myers
Daeg Faerch as Young Michael Myers
Brad Dourif as Sheriff Leigh Brackett
Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett
Kristina Klebe as Lynda
William Forsythe as Ronnie White
Danny Trejo as Ismael Cruz
Udo Kier as Morgan Walker
Lew Temple as Nole Kluggs
Hanna Hall as Judith Myers
Daniel Roebuck as Lou Martini
Dee Wallace Stone as Cynthia Strode
Directed by Rob Zombie
While generally a well-made horror remake offering further insights into the mind of Michael Myers, fans will be chomping at the bit waiting for the slaughter to begin, and once it does, it has very little to offer beyond what John Carpenter did in the original movie.
Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) is a troubled kid with a stripper mother and an abusive stepfather who finally snaps and goes on a killing spree on Halloween. He’s sent to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and treated by Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who watches Michael’s condition deteriorate until the boy no longer speaks. 15 years later, Michael (Tyler Mane) is a silent hulk who escapes and returns home on Halloween to finish what he started.
It’s been five years since the last movie in the “Halloween” franchise and with next year being the 30th Anniversary of the original John Carpenter movie, surely it’s more than fair game for a remake, right? Fortunately, the normal hate that might normally greet a remake of a classic film might be somewhat alleviated by the fact that it’s helmed by a director with a strong vision like Rob Zombie, who combines what worked in John Carpenter’s original movie with over a half hour of new story to develop the Michael Myers character even further.
Despite my general dislike of Zombie’s previous work, his remake of “Halloween” shows a lot of intelligence and skill in determining what needs to be retained in order to appease the fans but also what was lacking by showing how and why a young boy could turn into a brutal killer. The prequel portion of Zombie’s movie sets up Michael’s escape and killing spree by showing him as a 10-year-old boy, killing animals and school bullies before the fateful Halloween night that got him locked-up. With more money to work with than his first two movies, Zombie makes a damn good looking movie that’s every bit as stylish and creepy as the original with the addition of much more of Zombie’s trademark blood and gore.
Those waiting to see the grown-up Michael Myers wearing the mask and cutting a swath through the teens of Haddenfield will have to wait nearly 40 minutes, but there’s a lot to enjoy during that time, such as Malcolm McDowell as a suitable and acceptable replacement for Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis. He brings his own thing to the character, particularly in the Smith’s Grove scenes where he tries to work with the young mask-loving Michael to find out what makes him tick. Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon is so good as Michael’s stripper mother that you might wonder whether this is the breakout role that allows her to get roles in other filmmakers’ movies. She’s clearly the best part of Zombie’s normal roster of regulars that he brings to the table, but he also offers welcome additions like Danny Trejo as one of Smith’s Grove’s kinder guards who looks out for Michael.
15 years later after this extended intro, Myers has become a silent, lumbering beast, a true monster portrayed without a hint of irony by Tyler Mane, who effortlessly escapes, killing anyone who gets in his way, and starts to offer the kind of gore that should suitably sate anyone aching for it. Once Michael returns to Haddenfield is also where the movie turns into more of a straight remake, complete with many of the same visuals and beats from the original, overusing Carpenter’s themes to the point of being annoying, because it’s constantly reminding you how this new version pales in comparison to the original because it samples so liberally. Much of the blame has to be laid on the casting of Scout Taylor-Compton. Rather than living up to the earlier work by slasher flick pioneer Jamie Lee Curtis, she comes across like a bratty screaming bimbo who normally would get offed in this type of movie.
Once the movie becomes about Michael chasing her around the neighborhood, it quickly grows tiresome, but if you think you know where things are going, then you may be overestimating Zombie’s desire to make this movie work as a stand-alone. He offers a number of clever and unexpected twists that certainly will wake up anyone who has gotten bored, because it’s the first time since Myers’ escape where Zombie shakes things up. That said, where he leaves things after pulling the rug out from under the viewer might leave one even more disappointed.
The Bottom Line:
There’s a few positive things that can be found amidst this messy semi-remake–the solid performances of McDowell, Moon and Mane for instance–but when it comes down to it, the scenes in the “present day” i.e. the ones done so well in John Carpenter’s original movie, just aren’t nearly as scary or effective. Since that’s the entire second half of the movie, it’s hard not to walk away feeling disappointed rather than excited about the return of Michael Myers.