Every now and then, a talented filmmaker gets wrapped up in a production that's run off the rails, something that Rob Zombie knows all too well after his stint resurrecting a seminal horror legend with his so-called reimagining of Halloween -- the result being a thoroughly troubled picture whose faults are, at times, too much to bear for even the most casual viewer. Was it his gritty, goth aesthetic that got in the way of delivering a better translation -- or merely studio interference? One thing is for sure, the film that was released into theaters is a colossal mess of misguided product appeasement that barely taps into what made John Carpenter's original so effective. Gone is the ratcheting suspense, in favor of heavy-handed aggression that Zombie effectively mined so well in his previous film, The Devil's Rejects. The problem here is that that kind of in-your-face brutality doesn't lend itself well to this film series. By the end of the torturous finale, the movie is basically broken down into a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style insanity trip, with cues taken directly from that masterpiece and crossbred into this franchise, thus blurring the lines of what the director considers to be so special about the original in the first place.
But was it all Zombie's fault? He's a bit blinded by his own fetishes -- that's for certain. For one, his white-trash take on the tale is a sure shock compared to the quiet simplicity of the first film. The constant need to explain everything is another possible detriment, depending on one's tastes. Those in the camp who find much unease with a growing evil sprouting out of suburban normality will no doubt be taken aback by what seems to be a clinical case of dysfunctional family syndrome, with young Michael Myers (played with a mix of pudgy preteen angst and confusing psychological indifference by newcomer Daeg Faerch) turning psychopathic seemingly because of his homestead's constant hostility. The forked-tongued William Forsythe provides much of this through his evil stepfather character, who seems wildly out of place from the get-go -- the same can be said of many of the now-you-see-em, now-you-don't cameos that pepper the picture. The headlining cast doesn't fare too well either -- whether it's the sex-crazed teen girl trifecta or Malcolm McDowell's near laughable sentimentality, the new incarnations are poor substitutes for their predecessors all across the board. As a bland reincarnation of Dr. Loomis, McDowell fails to bring anything new or even old to the character, while Scout Taylor-Compton comes off as more of a walking goofball hormone machine instead of being bred out of the virginal heroine mold. Unfortunately, Zombie doesn't help things much with his decision to condense the original film into the final act, thereby denying the audience the time to invest in these characters. And as far as the adult Michael Myers goes, Tyler Mane hulks around okay, but ends up looking like a degenerate wrestler most of the time, smashing anything in his way with little to no care put into connecting his mannerisms to the classic Myers of yesteryear. Add a schizophrenic style onto all of this, plus more of the director's flare for dirty, grungy horror, and one has a film that so drastically gets things wrong as a narrative that it barely matters how well it realigns with the past.
Given all of this, is there a silver lining to this production? One compliment that's been thrown out there is that at least it's Zombie's vision all the way -- or is it? When rumors of the reshoots popped up promising more deaths and an extended ending, the filmmaker scoffed at the idea, sizing it up to Internet lunacy. The official response was that Bob Weinstein offered more money to help juice up the production any way that Rob wanted, so the timeline of the film was played with, opening things up for a few more cameos along the way (including key members of the Rejects alumni -- Sid Haig and Bill Moseley). Additionally, the director has said that the ending was reworked to give Laurie a more satisfying arc, but if that's true, then he missed the point even more the second time around, studio interference or not. Either way, one thing no one counted on was a workprint copy leaking onto the Internet the week of release, not only raising the piracy flag in Tinseltown, but allowing an interesting peek at what the picture looked like before the notorious Weinstein Company waved more money around. Reportedly gone is the Texas Chainsaw-tinged ending, as well as the absurd chain-breaking escape from the hospital. In their place, grounded character work that allows for a richer Halloween experience than the cut-and-paste one that made its way onto the big screen. Sadly, it seems that audiences lost out again, making this yet another Halloween sequel that's been tampered with before its theatrical release. What's even worse is that this looks to be a monumental step back creatively for Rob Zombie, who for whatever reason, has delivered what many outside his loyal following would consider to be a colossal waste of time.