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In the latest of a now genuinely comical amount of Halloween installments/incarnations, Rob Zombie is exposed as yet another anti-throwback who aims to disgust instead of frighten. Quality-wise, he achieves that goal.


This prequel-ish remake of John Carpenter's Halloween finds a 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) looking like Dennis the Menace—but still acting like the Antichrist. Who could blame the kid? His older sister (Hanna Hall) makes fun of him when not ignoring him, his alcoholic stepdad (William Forsythe) hurls food and profanity at him, and the school bullies harass him endlessly. Young Michael's only allies are his mom (Sheri Moon) and baby sister. Which explains why their lives are spared when Michael goes on a Halloween night killing spree. Fifteen years pass and Michael's hatred of speaking and love of mask-wearing have reached an all-time high. When the guards at the instititution Michael has called home for the past decade and a half make the fatal mistake of trying to transport him to a new location—on his favorite night of the year, no less—Michael busts out without a hitch. With his mom having committed suicide years ago, Michael has but one person to pay a visit to: his now teenage sister (Scout Taylor-Compton), who has long since been adopted and not informed of her family tree. But with Michael's longtime psychologist, Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), hot on his trail, it won't be so easy to get to his baby sis. OK, so maybe it'll be somewhat easy.


The only members of the cast to turn in actual performances are Moon, wife/frequent collaborator of Halloween writer-director Rob Zombie, and McDowell. It's not that the others can't act, but rather that they spend the movie screaming (Taylor-Compton) or hiding, dialogue-less, under a mask (Tyler Mane) or some other form of non-acting—which is admittedly neither here nor there since the same could be said about most slasher movies. Moon lends a certain humanity to an otherwise emotionless affair, and it makes her stand out in more than one way, but sadly, her performance is rather short-lived. Elsewhere, young actress Taylor-Compton certainly has nothing on Jamie Lee Curtis' original Laurie Strode, except for perhaps the decibels and amount of her screams. Filling in for Donald Pleasence, McDowell wasn't a bad casting choice to deliver cryptic, if dubious, dialogue, but his performance is rarely more than funny—which could sum up most of the acting here. Such humor culminates with Danny Trejo's tiny performance as a janitor who cheerily calls the grown-up Myers "Mikey"—even when being savagely murdered by him.


Thought shock-rocker Rob Zombie would be the right man for the job of updating John Carpenter's Halloween? You weren't alone, but alas, it is only an update by the standards of today's "horror" directors who mistake gore for fear factor. In the prologue, featuring the young Myers, the laughability of the young actor's dialogue is only exceeded by how unscary his actions are. Blame Zombie's screenplay, which is often unfunny when it's supposed to be funny—primarily during his trademark clichéd-white-trash-family scenes—and funny when it's not supposed to be. In the second half, at least the talking turns into screams and the pace picks up, but it's all for naught, because the older Michael has become a superhuman monster instead of a troubled, institutionalized human. The psychological scares have been completely drained from this remake, as Zombie appears more intent on stylistically depicting the murders than setting them up; any shred of subtlety, as a result, is gone. Although, maybe the director thought he fulfilled the psychological-scare quota when the psychologist's life is put in grave danger. As Zombie's Halloween limps on, it becomes a sad commentary on the state of the genre: Elaborate throat-slittings and blood trajectories are no longer even flinch-inducing.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.