It may sound contradictory to call a remake of one of the most simplistic horror films ever made “different”, but in truth it is. And it is for that reason Halloween 2007 has managed to stand out in the franchise from many of the weaker sequels. Even by comparison to H20, which did what it could to spice up the Laurie/Michael dynamic and Halloween 3 than had nothing to do with Michael Myers, the 2007 remake stands out for one reason: Director Rob Zombie had a vision to make this film his own and did not want to limit himself arbitrarily. And so he made one of the more intriguing horror remakes that I’ve seen.
Whereas John Carpenter’s film explored the disturbance of the mundane through Laurie’s innocence being corrupted by Michael’s invasion of Haddonfield, Rob Zombie’s film explores the extraordinary by giving us a detailed look into Michael’s childhood and what exactly led him to kill his sister on Halloween night. While Michael’s horrific home life played into him being numb to much of the harsher things in life, it is implied that Michael’s desire to kill has always been there as he kills his pet rat before we’re introduced to his disruptive home. Thereafter, he seeks out a bully to enact revenge upon. Michael has a lot of motive in this movie and what makes it intriguing is that his family cannot understand it; not his mother or Laurie, his last surviving relative. Even Doctor Loomis fails to understand until Michael returns to Haddonfield, but we the audience know from the start. His motive is, weirdly enough, to be cared for – He’s still a little boy behind the mask. He never hinted at any ill feelings towards his loving mother before her suicide and cared for baby Laurie, the only family who wasn’t cruel to him, after stabbing his other sister to death. Therefore he doesn’t seek out Laurie so that he can kill her, but so he doesn’t have to be alone anymore. And this abandonment he feels is why I think this movie, as well as it’s sequel, handle the relation between Michael and Laurie better than any film before it – although Halloween H20 also did a good job with this.
Hell, the way Michael is depicted is as though he could have escaped Smithsgrove at any time he wanted once he become a towering adult. But the reason he stayed was because of Loomis; The only human who routinely spoke and interacted with him in a positive way. It is only when Loomis tells Michael that he can no longer help him and won’t be continuing his care that he decides to escape.
So the biggest difference between Carpenter’s killer and Zombie’s is that the one depicted by Zombie still has one piece of humanity left within him, whereas Carpenter’s was almost always without feeling. Therefore this movie is very Michael-centric and is, interestingly enough, more concerned with his character than anyone else’s. I like that even Michael as a child maintains some mannerisms from the classic movies in the way that he pivots his head and walks when he wears his mask, and I like how that movement is contrasted with his regular domineer when he isn’t using his clown mask.
The second half of this film, after Michael escapes Smithsgrove, is an honest remake of the 1978 film with 75% more swearing and 25% more sexual innuendos. That is with the exception of the scene where Michael captures Laurie and takes her to his basement, where he uses old family photos to try to communicate his relation to her. Laurie is unaware of her past, or of Michael’s, and fails to understand what he means. She then stabs him in an attempt to escape. From Michael’s perspective, however, this is seen as just another family member brutally betraying and abandoning him. For me, this scene in the basement is the best one in the film – the last beacon of hope for this irredeemable serial killer going out because of his inability to communicate. It is only after this moment Michael tries to kill Laurie rather than capture and communicate with her, which I thought was quite cool.
I also enjoyed Malcolm McDowell’s incarnation of Doctor Loomis. It’s much more grounded than Donald Plesance’s take, and I find it humorous that in the one instance that McDowell is given dialogue about the nature of evil, reminiscent of the 1978 film, the sheriff mocks him for speaking in such a way. It’s hard to compare the two performances, but suffice it to say that while Plesance’s incarnation wouldn’t work in the 2007 movie, neither would McDowell’s in the 1978 one. Both do their jobs well for their respected films.
I also think the film does an okay job of modernising the old one on the surface level. Though I’m admittedly not a fan of the new dialogue, the way Michael is able to be both a gigantic brute during his murder scenes and also hide in the shadows as he previously had is great. Just like in the original, the film will reward you for looking into the corner of the frame in search of the killer before he officially pops up, which means he still gives off those stalker vibes. Albeit, these moments are limited to the second part of the film, and Michael spends the first half being a very loud, unsubtle type of killer.
Another nice nod to the original series is how Danielle Harris plays the role of Laurie’s friend Annie – She had previously played the part of Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5.
I do have a few complaints about the film however and the primary one is that it feels too long, which is largely due to a prolonged chase scene at the end. Exciting as it was, by that point in the movie Michael had already killed a bunch of people, confronted Laurie and been met by Doctor Loomis. It was ripe and ready to end before that sequence began. It just felt a bit padded out to me. In fact, the film’s unused alternate ending appears to be much better; After dragging Laurie away from Loomis, Loomis is then able to talk Michael down. Michael remembers his childhood caring for Laurie and releases her to him, before being riddled with bullets when the cops arrive thereafter, completely removing the chase sequence. This ending was much better a 10 minute chase ending with he and Laurie falling from a balcony, in quite an over-the-top fashion, before she mounts the killer and blows his brains out with a headshot. I feel the alternate ending is more consistent with how Michael had been depicted while institutionalized too, as I do buy that this version of Loomis could reach Michael emotionally because he had been shown doing so in the past. I also believe this version of Michael would spare Laurie due to how insistent the film is on him having her be the last hope for anything remotely human within him. So yeah, I’d have proffered the shorter alternate ending.
It’s definitely not perfect; As I said, the dialogue is clunky and just riddled with so much cursing and innuendos that it becomes actively distracting in a couple of scenes. It has you longing for Loomis to make an appearance so you can watch a normal conversation unfold onscreen without it going off the rails. It is too long and yet, of all things, I found myself wishing for one or two more scenes of Michael as a child at Smithsgrove and wanting just a few moments of the parts in Haddonfield removed. Even so, too long is too long and for this reason, I recommend the theatrical cut over the director’s cut which, for some godforsaken reason, decides that the same scene Michael escapes the sanitorium should also be an overly graphic rape scene wherein some guards assault a female inmate in Michael’s cell. I’m not surprised it was cut from theatres, and I prefer the theatrical escape anyways, as it leans into the idea Michael could have escaped any time he wanted but chose not to until he was ready. In the directors cut Michael just escapes because some idiots knowingly and willingly unlock his door for him, essentially.
My final complaint is about Laurie. The film obviously wants to have this contrast between her innocence and Michael’s brutality, but no innocence comes through in the writing. She is a bit too angsty and, while I do appreciate that we get to see her be brave and protecting the children she babysits, I much prefer Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of a quieter, more reserved version of the character.
I will admit that Zombie’s vision for this film does come into conflict with what I felt made Halloween scary; Michael’s lack of motive and the idea he could be anyone, anywhere. But I must also acknowlede – as the franchise’s original continutity has taught us – that idea has been very played out and stretched to it’s absolute limits. There’s not much left to do with it, and thus I do concede that Zombie’s take on Halloween is very interesting, even if not as inherently terrifying. It may rely on more generic, brutish ways to make Michael feel like a threat but it works as well as it needs to within the confines of this film.
So yes, I would recommend Halloween 2007. It’s not just a solid remake of a classic film, but one that reimagines it and lets us see those events from another point of view. Occasionally it stumbles and certainly feels far too long, but for the most part it’s pretty enjoyable. I admit I wasn’t expecting a lot, so find myself pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it.
I know I put a lot more analysis into this film than I did with a lot of the others, but you have to understand… Having watched so many generic “man in mask kills screaming girls” movies back-to-back, it was nice to watch a film with another layer to it. This movie isn’t high art or anything, but it is comparatively so much more interesting to look into when looked at alongside a great many of it’s predecessors.
At the end of every Halloween review I rank the movies I have seen so far from best to worst. Find the updated list below:
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween H20 (1998)
- Halloween (2007)
- Halloween 2 (1981)
- Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1983)
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
- Halloween Resurrection (2002)
- Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)