Love it or hate it, Rob Zombie’s Halloween made an impression on horror fans. Let’s examine some good things about it, shall we?
When I first saw it in the theater, I did not know exactly what to expect. This automatically made the movie more interesting for me. When I saw a young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) talking, and witnessed his dysfunctional family dynamics, I knew Zombie was going for something quite different, and certainly less mysterious.
Indeed, when Myers murders the school bully, I could partly understand why (though I would not condone actually doing anything like that). That kid was terrible. Maybe he didn’t deserve to die, but I got the sense that he put Michael through some real hell, and Mikey just wasn’t taking it anymore. No, he was going to dish it out, big time.
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When he tapes up his awful and verbally abusive stepdad and slashes his throat, the motives are obviously quite similar. What the movie lacks in mystery, it makes up for in an understandable monster. Then Michael takes a few steps beyond, killing his not-so-abusive sister and her young lover. The point? Once the ball gets rolling, it might not be so easy to stop it. You see, this Michael Myers is more of a conventional psychopath than an amorphous Halloween boogeyman.
In the original Halloween, Mr. Myers had killed animals, but then it seemed to be mostly about food. We see Zombie’s version had been killing animals, but it seems more about lashing out in aggression. That may be because Rob Zombie is a vegan (surprised?) who may have been making a statement about society’s cruelty to animals.
Of course, it’s also true that serial killers sometimes start off with animals. So, interestingly, it could be considered an objective, apolitical part of the story, too. In any case, Michael did spare his baby sister, so we see he wasn’t some absolute killing machine. Also, let’s face it, the movie would have faced more criticism had Zombie decided otherwise.
HALLOWEEN, Sybil Danning, Daeg Faerch, 2007. ©Dimension Films/Courtesy Everett Collection
So, aside from just being bullied and developing psychopathic tendencies, what makes this Michael Myers (and this Halloween) special? This Michael actually has relationships with people, such as his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and his psychologist, Dr. Loomis (adequately played by Malcolm McDowell). They both see him regularly, and we get to see young Michael develop through their eyes. He becomes more distant from them over time, and is obsessed with paper-mâché masks to cover his own face. In my opinion, this was a fairly inventive plot point for Rob Zombie.
This killer isn’t as mysterious as the original Michael Myers, having a face and a personality aside from his ultimate deeds. There’s even a sense that something could have been done to prevent Myers from becoming a maniac. From a certain perspective, this could be seen as a mysterious aspect to this character. It’s never completely understood what makes people go from being quite harmless to extremely harmful.
When Michael kills a nurse in the psychiatric hospital, it proves too much for his mother, who kills herself — no doubt feeling like a failure, and like she was ultimately responsible for creating these deaths. There is definitely something tragic to this story, and it’s certainly psychologically deeper than one might expect.
As bad as this sounds, I find myself relating to this version of Michael Myers, at least a little. Being an introvert at times, I often feel like not speaking to anyone. That’s just what Michael Myers does after his mother commits suicide, and after Dr. Loomis stops seeing him regularly. While I haven’t killed anyone, I can appreciate what it’s like to bottle up anger over a period of time, and staying alone and distant. Michael’s case is just an extreme version of what many people feel, particular regarding exposure to physical and verbal abuse. While I wouldn’t say this version is better, I would say it’s a respectable interpretation.
There are some off-the-wall moments in the movie, and Zombie’s version of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is far more annoying than John Carpenter’s. However, I find these aspects forgivable, especially in light of this shockingly relatable Michael Myers. Like with all remakes, I suggest watching this movie with an open mind, and without comparing and contrasting it with the original. You’ll find flaws, I’m sure, but it’s worth checking out.
So check it out!