Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007)

There has been a huge wave of backlash since last Friday's release of Rob Zombie's "re-imagining" (emphatically not a remake, say the Weinsteins). How can you remake a classic?, some say. Others are most upset about the structure of the film in general. A C.H.U.D. reviewer went so far as to say that Halloween is the worst movie of the year so far. I went into my Friday morning showing (surprisingly full for that time; I could have predicted the box office windfall this movie made) with hopes high, both because I love Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects is a great film that gets better with every viewing) and because the original Halloween is never a film that meant that much to me. Sure, I've seen it and I do like it, but I wasn't born when it originally came out and I didn't see it as a child. The sentimental attachment to Carpenter's original (yes yes, the first slasher film - I understand it's importance, I do!) is what has prejudiced many against the film; then again, it's probably what brought many others to the theater in the first place. So, as always, this remake business is a double-edged sword.

But on to the movie itself: if you like Rob Zombie's style, you will probably like this movie. There are all his trademarks: the 70s rock music (now I will never be able to hear "Don't Fear the Reaper" without thinking of Michael Myers' sister laying on her bed listening to her headphones - right after "More cowbell," actually), the freeze-frames and out-of-focus shots during action sequences, the pure brutality and uncomfortable nature of the violence. Michael's first kill, a schoolmate tormentor, is truly blood-chilling. The rest, especially his first Halloween night massacre, aren't any less terrifying. And while Michael's first victims were all "deserving," at least in his mind, Zombie makes it a point to show how being caged up for twenty years can further warp even the most twisted of minds. In the second, present-day half, there's no real logic to Michael's murders. They just are.

Do I even have to recap the plot? Probably not. Zombie focuses his movie (more than half, I believe) on Michael's childhood - his stripper mother (Sheri Moon Zombie, obviously, but who does a surprisingly good job), evil stepdad, uncaring sister, and bullies at school seem to be what tip him over the edge. It's a classic case of nature vs. nurture, and Michael has both working against him (as opposed to the original, where Michael somehow came fully formed out of a perfect suburban household). Dr. Loomis, played by Malcolm McDowell who I always love seeing, is appropriately idealistic and then beaten down by twenty years of caring for Michael with no apparent effects - I thought it was completely believable that he would write a profitable book about Michael, to make up for the years he lost. Myers himself, played by Daeg Faerch as a child and Tyler Mane as an adult, is creepy and silent enough to keep the tension alive.

Sure, there are some weaknesses in the film (the much maligned "How did Michael know where Laurie was?" question, as well as Laurie's general non-kick-ass-ness), but it's a solidly terrifying, yet intensely well-thought out and constructed American horror movie, one of the best of the year. Perhaps many of those dogging the movie now were looking for something to hate. Zombie doesn't make that particularly easy.

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Comments on "Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007)"


Anonymous The Retropolitan said ... (10:40 AM) : 

I'm surprised that I liked it as much as I did. Going by the reviews, I was prepped to hate it, but I actually found a lot about Zombie's approach that I admired, even if it didn't work all the time.


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