Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Michael Myers will never die. In fact, he’s going to keep right on being born, exterminated, reincarnated, and resurrected. Audiences in the next millennium will be attending premieres entitled Halloween Infinity and The Return of the Return of the Ghost of Michael Myers. Still, I came to the screening with high hopes for this “remake” of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. Writer/Director Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects) was reason enough to be optimistic. Or so I thought.
The original material is Zombie’s own vision and it works. For the first 45 minutes of the film, we are shown the elements that have gone into the making of a human monster. A tormented home and school life push the young Michael Myers, (Daeg Faerch), a blond, blue-eyed, somewhat androgynous 10-year-old, from a mixture of pain and hate into a tremendous force of rage and destruction. Mom Deborah (Sherrie Moon-Zombie) is an exotic dancer who tries to hold the wildly dysfunctional family together. Stepfather Ronnie (William Forsyth) is an abusive drunk who berates anyone within his line of sight. Older sister Judith (Hanna Hall) is a promiscuous, foul-mouthed teen who provides no comfort for her brother, only more derision. There’s also a toddler ensnared in the dysfunction, who can only scream at the unpleasantness of her surroundings.
Michael tortures and kills small animals and wears a leering clown mask around the house. Mom is too busy on the pole supporting the family to notice. Ronnie and Judith are not so benevolent. School provides no refuge, as Michael is tormented by bullies who are well aware of his mom’s profession. Let the human carnage begin, and it does, in broad daylight and with a painstakingly prolonged execution.
Young Michael snaps one Halloween night and the blood flows again; there are a few more casualties on this occasion than you will recall from the original, but Zombie is not one to let a victim get away when they can supply all that lovely red ooze. Only Michael’s mother and baby sister are spared through circumstance.
Later, at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, we are shown Michael’s growing fascination with masks, and are introduced to Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who works with Michael through the years, but never really understands him. Ismael Cruz, (Danny Trejo), a well-meaning custodian, advises the young Michael to “live inside your head,” as a means to cope. You will see how Cruz is repaid for his concern 15 years later, when Michael (now a 6”10” Tyler Mane) escapes from the institution, taking nearly the entire staff with him. The only difference is that he alone is still drawing breath.
A restroom murder serves only to introduce a quirky but short-lived character who supplies a much needed pair of shoes and familiar mechanic’s jumpsuit to complete Myer’s fashion ensemble. Now it’s back to Haddonfield to find the baby sister, known only as Boo, now named Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). This is where the film collides with the original and begins to disappoint. Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and Dr. Loomis are on Michael’s trail. Laurie is babysitting Tommy (Skyler Gisondo) and Annie is babysitting Lindsey (Jenny Gregg Stewart), and there are confusing sequences of everyone swapping houses, kids screaming, teen lovers being terrorized and slashed (not everyone dies, though) and a romp through the old Myers house. Laurie and Dr. Loomis have extremely drawn-out sequences with Michael that will take you to the (by now much anticipated) end of the film.
Much more profane than the original and showing more female flesh than you will recall, the film then treads into familiar territory, where the inevitable comparisons let it fall short or irritate you with its enhanced violence (not always better) and too many prolonged views of the adult Michael. There must be mystery, not just carnage, for us to get the creeps from this guy.
A reworked score from the original by composer Tyler Bates (300) provides some of the ambiance of the original film, but it is only a false hope. No subtleness here to juxtapose scenes of savagery, only great crescendos of dread. Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper is played in the background of a few scenes and is a further reminder of the difference between a classic and a rehash.
Sherrie Moon-Zombie is a rare sympathetic presence in the hostile environment of her character’s life, but Malcolm McDowell does not inspire confidence in his portrayal of the doctor who allegedly understands Michael Myers; in fact, McDowell possesses a simmering menace of his own.
Scout Taylor-Compton, in the Jamie Lee Curtis role, is no match for her brainy predecessor, but can scream enough to shatter glass. Here she is indistinguishable from her two friends, Lynda (Kristina Klebe) and Annie (Danielle Harris). Harris starred in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 as well, and may wind up playing a grandmother in part 17. Brad Dourif is creepy as the town sheriff; again, not someone who inspires confidence in his ability to outsmart the wily double M.
Faerch and Mane as the two Michael Myers try their best to inhabit the horror icon, but get caught up in the viciousness of Zombie’s vision. Faerch gives a more conflicted performance than Mane, who is just a rapid killing machine, dispensing rage and mortal wounds dispassionately.
Zombie has removed the mystery behind Michael Myers. Onscreen and in plain view too much, he’s hardly the stealthy apparition that the original film takes pains to mythologize. When you realize this dude is just some furious, oversized, mask fetishist who equates sex with death, you just want him captured and contained. He loses his mystique and is just one of us gone amok. That’s scary in a different way, but not the chills expected from a world-class horror figure like Michael Myers.
So oddly enough for a horror genre film, this time a Carpenter trumps a Zombie.