Rob Zombie's Halloween isn't quite a remake of John Carpenter's 1978 slasher masterpiece. The first hour, which vividly and viciously imagines the dirtbag childhood of an abject little psychopath named Michael Myers (the exquisitely wormy Daeg Faerch), might be considered a prequel. Yet even when it kicks in on familiar turf — Michael's escape (slash) from the loony bin (strangle) and hunt (slaughter) for his sister Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) — Zombie is up to something all his own. Horrific as it is, Halloween isn't so much a horror film as a biopic, and a superb one at that. The life and times of a fictional monster might not be as respectable a subject as a historical monster like, say, Idi Amin or Truman Capote, but Zombie's portrait is every bit as reverent, scrupulous, and deeply felt as any Oscar-grubbing horror show. Note the strange circumspection, the discipline of tone, the utter lack of snark, the absolute denial of gore for gore's sake. (Yes, Eli Roth, there is such a thing as "torture porn" — and you're a dumb, dirty perv.) Can you feel the love? If anything, Zombie indulges too much sympathy for the devil; his Halloween deepens Carpenter's vision without rooting out its fear.


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