Review: Halloween (2007)

Posted by Peter Hall - August 31st 2007 @ 7:18 pm

Directed by Rob Zombie, 2007
Written by Rob Zombie; original screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Halloween 2007 Poster

"Give them nothing!  But take from them everything!"

That line from 300 kept running through my sporadically idle mind while watching Rob Zombie’s Halloween.  Zombie took everything that makes Halloween work and gave nothing back.  He gave nothing to the fans and nothing to the genre.  He took what he liked and made something he liked, something I could admire if he never intended to then try and sell it to millions of people.

I believe the saddest thing about the entire affair is that Zombie’s Halloween isn’t that bad of a flick, but unforgiving is the act of taking the iconic Michael Myers and returning to the fans a film that is as important to the genre as a handful of sand is to a beach.  Remove the context of the film as a remake, remove the expectations, remain as objective as possible and Rob Zombie delivered a film that is, at best, a neutral non-issue.  A film that follows the trough half of a sinusoidal curve, starting on a downhill plummet, only to eventually bank into a gradual, positive climb, but only with enough force to break completely even by the end of its run.

There is nothing positive to say about the first 30 minutes of this Halloween.  Nothing at all.  Rob Zombie has perpetuated his fetish for white trash families, scripting a Myers crowd that is, in all practicality, only a name change away from the Firefly clan of his previous films.  The violence and sleaziness of Myer’s family packed into this section, which unnecessarily attempts to give motive to Michael’s madness, desensitizes the viewer at a regrettable pace.  By the time the script stops living in the past, there really isn’t anything shocking left for Michael to do.  A bad fact considering at least ten murders take place after this.

The sanitarium escape, which thankfully does not happen during the now well-known rape scene which leaked online earlier this week, begins to turn things around.  Gone is the disgusting white trash environment, replaced by a Rob Zombie suburbia where cheerleaders where Slayer T-shirts and not every kid is a bully, for once.  Malcom McDowell’s respectable take on Loomis becomes a lot more interesting and we finally meet the new Laurie Strode, played enthusiastically by Scout Taylor-Compton.  The investment in her character is never that intense, but she proves a decent enough anchor as the final girl all the same.

It is during this last half that any of Zombie’s attempts to remove all rationality from Michael pays off.  He kills people not out of any anger, but only because they’re something he can watch die.  The moments where this sees fruition are meager, but it is satisfying to know there is at least some measure of payoff for putting up with Michael Myers as the fourth kid from Hanson, the one kicked out of the band for being too pudgy.

Zombie has restrained things a bit, stylistically, which is a great improvement over The Devil’s Reject, but too often does he try and fail to emulate John Carpenter’s magnificent wide shots of evil standing on idyllic sidewalks.  The look is always there, but strangely the effect never is.  Tyler Mane has great movement as the man behind the mask, but Zombie fails to make him threatening.  His presence alone is an assumed kind of scary, a bit of a pitfall in a slasher film.

Halloween is an externality.  The cinematic yield of a transaction between two parties; Hollywood’s ravenous lust for money and Rob Zombie’s earnest desire to take the story and make something for himself.  The cost of this transaction is then placed on the shoulders of us, the fans.  We are expected to pay for this, we are expected to enjoy this, and, most importantly, we are the ones who will have to shoulder the burden of Hollywood’s impending hesitance to green-light bold R rated horror in the face of yet another disappointment, which Halloween is sure to be by the end of the weekend.

I think, once the hype is removed and Halloween is given time to mature, it will be seen as a success for Zombie as a director, but that will not change the fact that it is the most detracting remake to date.  A shame, because if he had made this movie as a slasher without the Shatner mask, people would be loving it.  Instead, the best thing that can be said is that Rob Zombie didn’t mess up irreparably.  It is never a good thing when the measure of a film’s worth is taken from the glass half empty perspective.


rss 7 comments
  1. September 1st, 2007 | 6:32 am | #1

    Horror’s Not Dead, but I think perhaps slasher films are.

    (Yeah, yeah, Hatchet’s gonna save the sub-genre. Whatever.)

  2. September 1st, 2007 | 9:14 am | #2

    Yeah, about Hatchet, the movie everyone in California supposedly has their eyes on. I live in the Northern VA/DC area (in the top 10 markets, I believe) and the closest theater it is playing is over 70 miles away in Baltimore of all places.

    If I have to make that drive and risk getting stabbed with a box cutter in that God forsaken city just for a slasher movie, it best be even better than everyone is saying it is. I’m all about supporting Indie horror trying to break into the mainstream, but that scenario is asking a bit much.

  3. Sean
    September 1st, 2007 | 4:15 pm | #3

    I agree with you Peter. The bad thing about Halloween is that it IS a Halloween, so you go into the movie expecting something of epic (at least I did) proportions, and you instead get a good slasher, not a great movie in general.

    Tyler Mane did a great job as Michael, he’s so freaking huge that it took people in the crowd by surprise as he stood up. I heard a LOT of “damn!”‘s as he was walking around. I kinda liked Michael Myers as a skinny (if tall) fellow, because it emphasizes that Michael is not a man behind a mask, he’s a force of nature, but Tyler plays a good Myers, even though Rob Zombie overkilled the fact that Myers would look at the people he killed. God, I was so tired of watching him tilt his head after the 5th kill!

    but it doesn’t cover the fact that Zombie took the story of evil in a normal all american family and turned it into a devil’s rejects family.
    The beginning kills the fact that he actually turned Halloween into a decent movie, rather than take a cop out like The Omen and copy it word for word, to the point where you’re bored to tears by the time it’s over.

    I have to admit that I enjoyed it, but I was glad it ended the way it did, I don’t want to see Halloween…2? whatever it’d be, played out like that.

  4. June 27th, 2008 | 4:38 pm | #4

    Wow. Funny how our tastes run parallel on many films, but diametrically opposed with others. well, not really opposed, as I also didn’t like this pile, but it seems I liked what you disliked, and vice-versa. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching the original when it was first released, but I thought this thing was pretty decent up until the point that Laurie Strode was introduced, because it offered up and genuinely different angle, however poor it might have been. Then it went all to hell. Zombie’s attempt to cram the events of the original film into the final reel of this thing failed completely.

    The original film at least attempted to develop Laurie and her friends a little, while in this film, it just seemed like Zombie was trying to make sure he got all the memorable events in, no matter how forced or awkward it came out. He even filmed it differently than the first half, and it looked terrible, while the first half was only “pretty bad” as far as blocking etc.

    And dammit, when is this clown going to get a decent DP? I hate his set-ups. Did he shoot this turd?

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  6. King
    July 15th, 2009 | 10:34 pm | #6

    I am sorry to say but i strongly disagree with the opinions shared about halloween. Halloween is my favorite horror movie ( of course i mean the originals) and i have seen al of the remakes and have not really been to impressed. But still i went into this one with an open mind, after coming out i was very pleased with what rob zombie had done with the film. Yes he did just take a halloween and put his spin on it, but i do think it was a posative one. The darkness that he was able to attach to the film really turned me on to the movie and kept me wanting more throughout the film. If your look at the remakes that have come out with all the classics none of them are going to be up to par with the originals but come on… thats to be expected. But rob zombie’s halloween was a jolt of energy to the dying breed of movie called horror. For once i can say i sat through a horror movie and was bombarded by stupid things popping out an a false attempt to make the audience think that they were scared. But i was able to sit through a well made movie with a dark twist to it and a great story line. I am happy that rob was able to really make you see the darkness in young myers and let u watch him transform infront of your eyes into the monster that was seen by the end of the movie. I think that your review is much to harsh and you should respect a movie that gives horror a good name because there are not to many of these kind of movies being made any more. My hats off to you Rob, and i cannot wait for the second remake. – King

  7. R.J. Sayer
    July 16th, 2009 | 3:08 pm | #7

    King, everything you said here is wrong. I want you to know this.

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