You realise your website’s been around for quite a long time when you start reviewing the same movie more than once… which is exactly what’s happening with this second review of Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween (2007): you can check my original review right here.
Please, bear in mind I’m not a fan at all of that old take on this film, so take everything I’ve written there with a pinch (or a lot) of salt. Some of my statements might sound a bit too harsh or quick at dismissing certain things: I was younger and more inexpert than today, please forgive me!
Anyway, as for any remake of a famous and beloved film, Halloween (2007) had been criticised a lot even before being released (which is a rather stupid habit, in my opinion) and, upon its release, it’s been panned by critics and most of the viewers. Today, from what I could gather, some younger horror fans even prefer the remake over the original (assuming they watched Halloween, 1978…). In this context, I want to write a review that’s as objective as possible, highlighting both the positive and negative aspects of Rob Zombie’s remake: because, in all fairness, this can’t be described as a bad movie.
WHAT THE ROB ZOMBIE VERSION DID RIGHT?
- We all know the story, since it’s the same as in the original John Carpenter’s slasher masterpiece: on Halloween night in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers inexplicably murders his sister and is committed to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns home to kill Laure Strode (now played by Scout Taylor-Compton), all the while eluding his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (this time portrayed by Malcolm McDowell), who follows him back to Haddonfield. Unlike in the original – where John Carpenter wanted the audiences to use their imagination to figure out Michael’s motivations for killing and depicted him as the embodiment of evil – Zombie gives Myers a backstory. Sure, this backstory introduces us to the whitest of trash but it also represents a fresh take on an old story. Obviously, the original never needed a remake, as it still holds up, but if you do decide to remake it, then why not trying a different, somewhat fresh approach? In this respect, I can’t help but appreciate Zombie’s attempt to make the audience care more about the villain and its motivations.
- In comparison to the original, Halloween (2007) is definitely more gruesome and satisfying for fans of the slasher genre. Obviously, the original was more suspenseful and – of course – ground-breaking, therefore it didn’t need any extreme gore or violence. Nevertheless, the remake does a good job with the upgraded violence and action scenes.
- The cameos are just loads of fun: Udo Kier, Brad Dourif, Bill Moseley… they’re just great in the few scenes they’re in!
- Despite the very different premise, Rob Zombie’s Halloween pays a respectful homage to the John Carpenter’s version: the dialogues between characters and the more iconic shots follow step by step the footprints of the original film.
- The score, which basically is an upgraded and modernised version of John Carpenter’s, sounds awesome. Quite honestly, you could tell that Zombie, as a musician, knew what he was doing and he really brought something magical to the mix with the theme song.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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WHAT THE ROB ZOMBIE VERSION DID WRONG?
- As I hinted at before, the first 20 minutes – where the backstory to Michael’s madness is introduced – are filled with the trashiest, most vulgar and cartoonish characters possible. Don’t get me wrong, I understand you need to display why Michael is damaged, but these characters talked and acted in a fashion that made them hardly bearable (which, unfortunately, is a negative trademark in the latest Rob Zombie’s movies, such as this one, Halloween II and 31).
- This movie is very gruesome, it’s undeniable. However, most of the killings are shot with extreme shaky-cam, which made them hard to follow: really, a few scenes where almost nauseating.
- The cinematography is rather conventional and has nothing that stands out, albeit quite well executed. This is something I wouldn’t consider as a negative per se, but in the original Halloween the cinematography was what built an amazingly dreadful atmosphere, whereas in Rob Zombie’s version that sense of menace is there, but doesn’t depend on the way the movie was shot.
- The acting is a little shaky. There are great and good performances along the way (Malcolm McDowell as Dr Loomis is almost as good as Donald Pleasance!) but some of the child actors, especially the one who plays young Michael, are rather unconvincing and even a bit annoying.
Overall, in my opinion, Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a respectable remake that, albeit not as impactful as the original, makes for a good, entertaining and gruesome cinematic experience. Its good aspects overdo the flaws, therefore I think part of the hate is only due to the blind hatred towards remakes and blind love towards the original.
With this review, I didn’t want to insult those who have different opinions: this is just my honest take on a movie that sometimes is too easily dismissed. It’s no masterpiece, but a bit of objectivity never hurt anybody.
Halloween (2007) 7/10