Rob Zombie's Halloween is an artistic failure. One can only say that because Zombie showed himself to be nearly a horror film genius with "Devil's Rejects," a flawless and terrifying horror movie that captures and ratchets up the spirit of '70s horrors like Texas Chainsaw and Last House on the Left. So expectations were understandably high when Zombie agreed to do the unthinkable: remake a masterpiece and make it his own.
The result is a film that, at its best moments, echoes some of the themes we saw in "Devil's Rejects" and, in its worst moments, feels like a bad "Halloween" movie in the spirit of "Halloween 6."
We're all very familiar with the basic "Halloween" storyline. For this remix, Zombie takes a more sympathetic view toward Myers, who wears a Kiss T-shirt at 10 and kills off the class bully the same day he offs (now) his entire family along with his now annoying sister.
The first third of the film, focusing on Myers' abusive family led by stipper mom Sherri Moon Zombie, has some of the spirit of "Rejects" and you can tell this is the kind of world Zombie likes to film about -- one of drunks, derelicts, abusers and (finally) long-haired serial killers.
But things start getting ridiculous when Zombie starts shoe-horning elements from Carpenter's universe: Dr. Loomis (now played by Malcolm McDowell, who seemed like an inspired choice but is just going through the motions in the role) seems like a forced, almost unnecessary character. He was the protagonist of the original movie. Not here. Laurie Strode (playeds irritatingly now by Stout Taylor-Compton) doesn't show up until halfway through the movie, after we watch Michael grow up from a normal looking and acting (aside from the fact that he kills people) kid to a silent hulk in an asylum obsessed with making masks.
The killings are more brutal this time around, more graphic, and sleazier, but they also feel stunted -- like Zombie didn't have the creative freedom to make the movie he really wanted to make. John Carpenter's music is back too, and it doesn't gel with this vision of the story -- and constantly reminds us that this is a remake. Good remakes should make us forget about the original, not inject the original into its mix every chance it gets.
Brutality in horror works if it increases the realism of the film. But by definition a "Halloween" movie can't be realistic. Here's where Zombie failed in his mission: Attempting to inject a gritty realism to a film that is, by definition, too fantastic to be real. There is much that is unbelievable in this film, from the dialogue of the high school girls to the weird lack of any real police presence when Meyers shows back up in town. Come on. A mass murderer escapes from an asylum and the police in his hometown doesn't care? In the first film, he wasn't a mass murderer by the time he broke out. And some of the lapses in logic didn't really matter that much. In that film, Meyers was a borderline supernatural being. He was the Boogey Man. Zombie tries to humanize him here and, no, it doesn't work at all.
Fans will recognize Danielle Harris, who played Laurie Strode's daughter in the infinitely superior "Halloween 4" and now returns as her doomed friend. There's some genuine tension at the end of the film when Strode confronts Meyers, and at the beginning, when young Daeg Faerch portrays an unsilent, psychotic 10-year-old Meyers. He's good in the role as a creepy long-haired kid. There's some good Rob Zombie horror here, and plenty of cameos from the likes of Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Ken Foree and many others. But all in all "Halloween 2007" was a big mistake and something Zombie is going to have to live down.
In short, it's about as good as "Halloween 5" (i.e., not good).