Years ago, when I saw the Willy Wonka remake, I spent hours afterward defending it to family and friends; I insisted that they needed to judge the film on its own, and not in comparison to the original. I still believe this with a lot of remakes, but not with horror franchises. Perhaps it would be different in the case of one horror film being remade years later, but remaking a piece of a franchise that spanned decades is different. Horror franchises create and build a villain and a story over the course of many (sometimes awful) films. By the time the viewer gets to the remake, assuming they’ve seen some or all of the original franchise, it’s simply impossible to judge the film on its own. And maybe this is unfortunate and maybe Rob Zombie wished it could be possible, but if he wanted to make a horror film that viewers wouldn’t bring any preconceptions and expectations to, then he shouldn’t have remade one of the most notorious franchises of all time and called it the same damn thing. Halloween, released in 2007, a mere five years after Halloween Resurrection, brings Michael Myers back to the big screen in a way we’ve never seen him before. While the film follows the same basic premise of Myers escaping from the asylum, returning to Haddonfield, and stalking his sister Laurie, it also takes the characters and plot in an entirely new direction that ultimately results in mixed messages and a movie viewers will have trouble sitting through.
To begin with, Zombie (who wrote, directed and produced the film) decided to give Myers a backstory, and boy, did he spend a chunk of time on it. In this version, Myers is 10 years old and stuck in a toxic family home. His mother, while loving, is a stripper; his stepfather is a hostile and offensive man; and his sister has a reputation and an attitude. For the first nearly 40 minutes of this film, viewers must sit through Michael’s family screaming at each other. This backstory is meant to justify Michael’s spiral into psychopathy, but I found the scenes to be a bit too much. As I’ve said before, Myers is a special villain in that he doesn’t have a backstory. Never, in the entire series (with the exception of the thorn storyline in six) are Michael’s actions explained. He is a serial killer and that’s what he does, plain and simple. According to Dr. Loomis, Michael is pure evil. That’s all the explanation I ever needed. These scenes of his family, and then extensive footage of Michael’s time as a child in the asylum, were at times very boring and went on far too long. I don’t care why Michael kills his family members and anyone else in his path; if I wanted a serial killer with some baggage, I’d watch Friday the 13th. Zombie takes this idea of having Michael come from a broken home and plays it to the extreme, leaving the audience with 40 minutes of unnecessary footage.
While each new director of this franchise puts their own imprint on the series and has their own style, all of the previous directors managed to keep the series similar enough that it was difficult to even distinguish between them. With this remake, the studio handed the franchise over to Rob Zombie, a man who certainly has his own style. I was expecting this style to shine throughout the movie, but I wasn’t expecting it to be drowning in it. From the constant rock music, to the gritty appearance of many of the characters, to the flashy camera angles, to the greasy hair on Michael - this movie reeked of Rob Zombie, and not in a good way. The film was much, much more sexually charged than any Halloween movie I’ve seen. I’m used to sex and drugs and rock and roll in campy horror movies, but this was too much. The dialogue seemed to go out of its way to be as offensive as possible, which was incredibly distracting. Zombie even tossed in an asylum rape scene that was horrific to watch. It’s a struggle for most viewers to watch a rape sequence in an Oscar-winning film, never mind a poorly made horror film. At times I was speechless at the amount of nudity (a female full frontal, really?). Zombie took this franchise down his dark and twisty rabbit hole, and it was bad. It was just bad.
As if I didn’t already have enough bad things to say about this film, the thing that bugged me the most were the mixed messages. It seemed to me that Zombie couldn’t quite decide if he wanted to pay tribute to the original or go off on his own. At times he went one way and at times he seemed to do both, which led to a confusing story. Some scenes were near replicas of original scenes, while a ton of scenes were new. Character names and personalities were sometimes the same, but sometimes different. With many of the deaths, it seemed like Zombie wanted us to feel bad for Michael and see him as a revenge serial killer whose actions are justified. But other deaths were totally unjustified and portrayed Michael as the serial killer of the original franchise. Perhaps Zombie thought balancing between the old and new would please both old and new fans, but I think the opposite happened. It annoyed me that anything reminiscent of the original was appearing in the same screen as this horrifying remake; I just wanted Zombie to make up his mind.
Paragraphs later, it’s clear this film did not impress me. There wasn’t much to like about it, except the fact that despite Zombie’s ability to trash nearly everything great about this franchise, Myers still seemed creepy and even terrifying. I assume the studio hoped Zombie’s unique direction and vision would revitalize this franchise, but I don’t see how it warranted the sequel. Fans of the original franchise will be disgusted by Zombie’s take on this tale. And honestly, I don’t see how anyone new to the franchise could even like such a truly horrible film. It feels like a really long Rob Zombie music video that distracts viewers from the fun that is Michael Myers. Stick to the original - I’d rather watch Halloween III or Halloween 6 a million times over than watch this movie again.
If you liked Halloween (2007), you might also like Halloween 2 (2009), Friday the 13th (2009) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).