No one is ever going to say the acting in Carpenter’s original is Oscar-worthy, but it’s certainly not terrible. The same cannot be said of the acting in Zombie’s remake. I’m not exactly sure what was going on behind the scenes, but the acting is all over the place. From Malcolm McDowell’s over-the-top Sam Loomis to Sheri Moon Zombies (who I actually really like in Zombie’s other films) aloof Deborah Myers (her reactions to the photographs of the animals Michael has killed is especially awful), there isn’t a solid performance around (save for perhaps Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris, who have surprisingly brief roles in the film). A lot of this may be that the actors can’t prevent Zombie’s script from sounding so incredibly forced, but it does sound like a lot of the people on set were phoning it in. Really, the breakfast scene in the beginning is the make-it-or-break-it moment for you. If you don’t like this scene, you probably won’t like the entire first half of the film.
I maintain that taking the opening five or six minutes of Halloween 1978 and stretching them into 50 long, laborious minutes was a hug mistake, but it is what it is. The teenage girls in the latter half of the film fare slightly better than all of the actors in the first half, but there is still the feeling that a lot of their dialogue comes across as forced. Hardly anything comes off as realistic in Halloween 2007.
The beauty of the main trio of girls in Carpenter’s film is that they all feel like real teenage girls. Lynda and Annie are still obsessed with getting laid on Halloween, but they sound like actual people when they are speaking, as opposed to whatever it is the girls in Zombie’s film have to say.
If you want to get into the real issue with Zombie’s Halloween, look no further than the script. Sure, Carpenter’s script was incredibly simplistic, but that simplicity worked in that film’s favor. Zombie over-complicates matters, and attempts to give us a backstory for Michael to explain why he became such a raving lunatic. Look, I get the reasoning behind this. Carpenter’s Michael was just “The Shape.” He was the bogeyman (and at the time, no plans were made to make him Laurie’s brother) and thus invincible.
Zombie’s Michael is a real person who grew up in a white trash family who suddenly snapped when his sister wouldn’t take him trick-or-treating. From his fill-in dad yelling things like “I will skull fuck the shit out of you” to his sister saying “That drunken fuck prick fuck Ronnie ain’t my dad,” the entire first act is littered with obscenities and vulgarities (as in the previously mentioned breakfast scene). This is Rob Zombie’s style, which is fine, but none of it feels authentic.
As I mentioned before, the beauty of the original is in its simplicity. That film is just about a mysterious figure who stalks babysitters. It is more a “slice of life” film, and that realism is what makes the film so terrifying. Zombie’s film feels like a film, if that makes any sense.
In Zombie’s film, he takes the entire original 90-minute movie and cuts it down to one hour. We lose most of the characterization of the girls, and thus it makes it difficult to care about them when they are attacked and/or die. This section of Zombie’s film has some cool moments, but ultimately it feels like Carpenter’s film on crack. It just speeds through everything that made the original so special