Michael Myers kills again (and again) in Rob Zombie's aggressively nasty remix of Halloween, a fittingly reverent take on John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece. Half-prequel and half-remake, it plays like a biopic of Myers (Tyler Mane), offering us an unsettling look at the making of a monster. Zombie may not be able to match the stalk 'n' menace of Carpenter's steadicam original, but when the Big Z's knife hits the right groove, he cuts to the dark heart of the Myers legend.
The first hour rewrites the original's opening five minutes as a fully-fledged prequel, turning the Myers family into trailer trash Jerry Springer show rejects: Mom Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper, stepdad Ronnie (William Forsythe) is an abusive alcoholic, and so it's not long until troubled little Mikey (Daeg Faerch) turns to murder and ends up in an asylum under the care of psychologist Dr Loomis (Malcolm McDowell, perfect for the Donald Pleasance role). It's here that Zombie really delivers, fleshing out what Carpenter disposed of in a few lines of dialogue. Locked in his cell creating disturbing Halloween masks, Mikey grows from troubled kid into hulking, hairy adult. Stark and understated, it's surprisingly effective.
The second half is a straight retread, less daring and more disappointing, as Michael returns home to terrorise babysitter Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton, doing Jamie Lee Curtis-lite). Still, the strength of Zombie's reboot lies in its skin-crawling violence, grimy lensing lingering over the slaughter, and in its tweaks of the legend (shots of young Michael wearing an over-sized, adult version of the iconic "Shape" mask may spark nightmares). There's also a smart distillation of the sequels' familial twists, with a clever take on the Myers family tree. Zombie makes several missteps, botching the supernatural dread, but brings enough new tricks to make this a Halloween treat.
Halloween is out in the UK on 28th September 2007.