The first cut is still the deep­est

HAL­LOWEEN Di­rected by Rob Zom­bie. Star­ring Scout Tay­lor-Comp­ton, Tyler Mane, Mal­colm McDow­ell, Brad Dou­rif, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon, William Forsythe, Udo Kier, Richard Lynch, Danny Trejo, Dee Wal­lace, Sy­bil Dan­ning 18 cert, gen re­lease, 109 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

THIS is a very odd beast in­deed. It hardly needs to be said that re­mak­ing John Car­pen­ter’s Hal­loween, one of cin­ema’s very great­est ex­per­i­ments in creative ten­sion, is an idea that should re­main in the same locked drawer as cur­ried rasp­ber­ries and choco­late oven gloves. And, sure enough, Rob Zom­bie’s nois­ier, less nu­anced ver­sion of the story does ul­ti­mately crash and burn.

But, against the odds, Zom­bie (a bet­ter film-maker than that sur­name sug­gests) does find some­thing in­ter­est­ing to do with the first half of his film. Fill­ing in two big gaps left by the orig­i­nal pic­ture – the pe­riod im­me­di­ately be­fore Michael My­ers’s first slaugh­ter and his time spent in the lu­natic asy­lum – the new work im­poses a strange kind of hy­per-re­al­ism on the ac­tion and, in so do­ing, al­most man­ages to ex­plain why Michael be­came the lurch­ing atroc­ity we so love.

As in his two pre­vi­ous pic­tures, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Re­jects, Rob Zom­bie imag­ines a world en­tirely peo­pled by em­bar­rass­ing street lu­natics with ter­ri­ble noses. Michael, the son of an erotic dancer, is bul­lied by id­iots at school and by a cack­ling ham of a step­fa­ther at home. Even­tu­ally, he makes the leap into lu­nacy, chops up most of the fam­ily with a carv­ing knife and, eerily co­matose, gets dragged off to a men­tal asy­lum to be stud­ied by Mal­colm McDow­ell’s pre­dictably pe­cu­liar Dr Sam Loomis.

Th­ese scenes show­case Zom­bie’s tal­ent for dis­cov­er­ing jet black hu­mour in the most ap­palling sit­u­a­tions and sug­gest that he might just be ca­pa­ble of mak­ing the ma­te­rial his own. Sadly, about half­way through, we find our­selves at Hal­loween in the present day and the pic­ture sud­denly turns into yet an­other de­press­ingly rou­tine re­make.

Sev­eral of the Car­pen­ter’s best bits are un­earthed – Michael wear­ing a sheet and spec­ta­cles; Michael pin­ning a vic­tim to the wall and peer­ing quizzi­cally at him – as the ac­tion is rapidly taken over by a con­fus­ing orgy of run­ning around and shout­ing. Still, this Hal­loween is a more in­ter­est­ing fail­ure than we had a right to ex­pect.

What an atroc­ity

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