Sunday, August 30, 2009

Halloween in August; Makes Sense

What the fuck did the white horse have to do with anything? All the audience receives is a definition from some obscure dream book (no author provided) followed by an instantaneous handheld cut to young Michael Meyers and his mother in a mental institution discussing his situation with a white toy horse situated on the table (yeah, it was pretty deep). Considering my hope and excitement for this movie was huge, I attempted to pardon this immediate and stupid inclusion toward explaining the history of Micheal Meyers. Unfortunately, moments after the first kill of the movie, Zombie returns to this asinine motif as Micheal observes his young self and mother standing next to a white stallion silhouetted in the distance. From that moment, it was clear that I was in for yet another let down by Mr. Zombie and his attempt to redefine the Halloween series.

I had a notion, which was confirmed by an interview I forced myself to ingest, that Zombie hoped to create a “realistic” portrayal of Michael Meyers. Michael would no longer be part of the supernatural, but rather a deranged psychopath; dealing with problems of the psyche as manifested through the youthful, overly cliché, slaughtering of animals. Moreover was Zombie’s choice of camerawork - a handheld documentary feel. While both of these approaches were original in theory, Zombie failed by combining realistic elements with highly HIGHLY stylized visuals, all while attempting to recreate a cinematic legacy spanning over twenty-five years. Additionally are the horrendous changes Zombie implemented: Dr. Loomis has now become despicable, Laurie Strode is completely weak and offensively pitiful, Michael does not kill for pleasure, but rather to acquire another white horse fantasy, and the list goes on. While this might have worked for those unfamiliar with the series (though I doubt it), Zombie particularly failed by expecting Halloween fans to abandon the old, horrific storyline in favor of a new, realistic one. Like a child being asked to welcome a new father after the recent death of his own, no one can replace the diabolical Meyer’s legacy by getting rid of the most gripping aspect of the series.

Why is Michael the way he is? Fine, Michael killed animals as a child, had issues with a white horse (seriously, what the hell doe this have to do with anything), and was subsequently incarcerated into a mental institution. But this still does not explain why he is the way he is. In fact, it provides absolutely no further information than Carpenter’s version. It's as if I'm driving from Central Illinois to Chicago and instead of going straight North, I head west into Iowa, up into Wisconsin and then down into the city. Either way, I'm going to same place. And Zombie's rendition, while trying to be different, arrives at the exact same conclusions as the original except with lengthy and needless explication.

Zombie’s painfully boring psychological labyrinth does no more to explain Michael’s evil than the original movie. We may know more regarding Michael’s youth, but it begs the question as to why then is the YOUNG Michael so diabolical. A lot of kids have broken homes growing up or issues with their mothers, and very few become serial killers. What is Zombie trying to say? That Michael is deranged because of his childhood? If so, why did Michael develop murderous tendencies at such a youthful age? The only explanation is that he is evil, and all examinations of the past and psyche are completely superfluous toward explaining this evil.

Are we really to expect anybody to reach a different conclusion than the original Dr. Loomis? In his brief, but powerful words, “I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil.” In no more than two minutes of screen time, Loomis provides all of the explanation the audience needs. He is evil, plain and simple. All Zombie did was take us on a needless thrill ride which did nothing more than to destroy the series.

The best movies are the ones with the most efficiently compressed stories. If something can be explained in one minute why take five? Specifically, the best scenes in cinema necessitate every single second. Think of the work of Tarantino. I just saw Inglorious Basterds and although the movie was 2:36 every single scene is ingeniously necessary and perfectly compressed so that the audience becomes completely absorbed into the story and time breaks down. Rob Zombie wasted HOURS in two movies for what has already been perfectly explained in two minutes from the original. Is anyone really going to walk away defending Michael Meyers as a “sick” individual rather a diabolical character? Is anyone going to change their interpretation of this legendary figure? Has his position with Freddy, Jason or Leatherface changed because he has ridiculous hallucinations? No. And for that reason, Zombie has failed in his approach with a movie no different than Jason X. But hey, even the Friday the 13th remake was pretty damn good.