Friday, August 31, 2007

Halloween (2007)

Reason # 5,132 to not see movies in theaters: when I saw this film, every couple minutes it would skip forward in time a second so we’d miss a word or two of dialogue, followed a few seconds later by a second instantly repeating itself. That would be incredibly annoying under the best circumstances, let alone when seeing a movie that’s already a bit of a chore to get through.

I can appreciate a remake of an older film, particularly if the new version has something interesting to say, or at least retells the old story really well. However, we get neither here. Writer-director Rob Zombie’s stated goal with this film was to explore all the backstory that has never before been delved into in any of the other films, so there was certainly some potential in the basic idea. So what keen insight did we get for why young Michael Myers turned into a mass murderer? Well, apparently he was just always an evil little serial killer. Carpenter managed to explain this in less than ten minutes in his original film. Here it takes over an hour.

The film’s divided up into three parts: young Michael’s life right before his first murders, his time at the sanitarium, and his escape and subsequent killings that retell the first film. The second portion is the best of the three, I suppose, as it’s the least offensive and poorly made of them all. The film opens with a scene at the breakfast table that reads as though Zombie had just watched the scene in Little Miss Sunshine and wanted to do a Shocking and Edgy parody of it, filled with every character in the Myers family yelling, cursing, arguing, making sexual suggestions, and other tedious behavior that accomplishes nothing but to scream at the audience, “Oh, look at how bad Michael’s home life is! Do you see now why he becomes a killer???” It doesn’t improve from there, as each character we witness can easily be divided up between “This person is horrible and will be killed by Michael” and “This person is not so bad and will not be killed”. There is no tension to be had here, as we’re just sitting through ponderous unpleasantness while trying to determine how long it’s going to take before something actually happens. And before you ask, no, we have no way of knowing if his horrid home life actually is what led him down this path, as he had been murdering animals for a while before the film’s start, so the whole damn point of finding out what made Michael the way he is has been completely ignored.

As I said, the time spent at the sanitarium is probably the best portion of the film, with Malcolm McDowell reprising Donald Pleasance’s character of Dr. Loomis, who tries to break Michael out of his shell and begin the path to rehabilitation. He’s aided in this by Michael’s mother, played surprisingly well by Sherri Moon Zombie, until Michael kills someone at the sanitarium and his mother, feeling defeated, kills herself. The film quickly jumps ahead after that a good decade and change, as Zombie was evidently impatient to get on to the main course, and we just get Michael pretty much killing everyone at the sanitarium, including an old guard (Danny Trejo) who thought he had befriended him, though an off-handed mention of how he was just a few months from retirement boded poorly.

We then frantically rush ahead to the final (and longest) (and worst) part of the film, where he’s made his proud return to Haddonfield, Illinois (proudly played by Haddonfield, New Jersey in the original film) in search of his sister. At this point, a strong familiarity with the original movie is a must, because the whole section plays like Zombie just wanted to redo all his favorite scenes from the original without having to take the time to do unimportant things like, say, include any connecting scenes in between the Greatest Hits to create some sort of flow, or actually introduce any of the new characters or give us any kind of reason to care about them beyond that there were characters with the same names in the original film. To make it all even more muddled, Zombie directs these killings and the big climax with Laurie with all the finesse of 28 Weeks Later. For those lucky ones who missed that film, imagine a movie where every action scene is in near total darkness and has the camera shaking ridiculously violently to the point where you can’t even figure out what’s going on. This leads to a hide and seek bit in the old Myers house wherein Laurie hides somewhere while Michael tries to find her, but the camera’s shaking so violently and it’s so dimly lit and there’s so much fast cutting that we can’t even figure out the general layout of the house, let alone where exactly she’s hiding and where he’s looking.

That structure is typical of the film as a whole, really, as the whole movie is one grand mess. There are glaring continuity errors (one character is killed near the end by Michael digging his fingers into the guy’s eyes until blood starts pouring down his head, only to be dragged around later with no blood or noticeable injuries at all). There’s a villain who seems to be everywhere at once, not due to any supernatural powers (that angle is completely dropped in this remake), but because the editing is so slapdash that he just seems to jump from one house to the next with no rhyme or reason. There are a number of completely unnecessary characters (Dr. Loomis, for instance, has no reason for existing in this new film, and a scene at a truck stop after Myers’ escape is a failure, as there’s no indication that he hijacked any vehicles to make his way to Haddonfield as he did in the original. You know, unless Zombie thought it would take too long to include a mention of an abandoned car/truck/whatever) that serve no purpose but to provide an extra murder. It’s just one big mess, with no real redeeming qualities to be found. It doesn’t even have any of the humor that made the Devil’s Rejects so entertaining, preferring to remain at a dirge all the way through. It’s easily Zombie’s worst film, and the only thing that might keep it from being the worst Halloween film yet is because it didn’t have Busta Rhymes saying “Dangertainment” every five minutes. Avoid this at all costs.

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