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Halloween

Nearly thirty years ago Halloween helped create the slasher genre template.  Director John Carpenter created a horror classic due to his soundtrack and technical skills.  Now receiving the remake treatment the aptly named Rob Zombie bravely tackles the films’ deadly reputation.  What transpires is an unusual mix of prequel/remake that fails to live up to its’ terrifying forebear.
After killing most of his family on Halloween, Michael Myers is sent to a sanatorium.  Seeing a boy with ‘the devils eyes’, psychiatrist Doctor Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) determines his stay is permanent.  Fifteen years later Myers escapes just in time for Halloween.  Aiming to kill Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), his last living relative, Myers begins a savage quest to prove that All Hallows Eve belongs to the bogeyman.
Remaking films can be a poison chalice that some people shouldn’t touch.  This Halloween redux fails as it falls into the trap that plagued the sequels. The script spells out the original script’s vagueness robbing it of any sinister atmosphere. The interesting scenes showing the genesis of Myer’s fractured mind unfortunately slows down any crucial momentum.  Whilst these childhood scenes are well acted, particularly by Daeg Faerch as a young Myers, these dilute the character’s impact.  Zombie’s perchance for showing off his white trash style characters is in evidence making things uncomfortably realistic.
The soundtrack and visuals are the main assets.  Carpenter’s original score is wisely retained and still tingles the nerves.  The dirty grimy world that Myers inhabits is well realised, with Zombie sharing Carpenter’s dramatic filmic flair.  The acting matches the film by being a mixed bag with only Faerch and Malcolm McDowell lingering in the memory.  Zombie is a keen student of horror but there is hardly a sense of thumping dread.  This is regrettable given the source material with his new script additions not effectively adding much to the series’ mythology.
Certainly better than the terrible sequels Halloween mark two nonetheless disappoints.  The budget and actors are in place but sadly genuine scares seem to be missing.  The most terrifying thing about this film is the thought that more classics will be given the lukewarm treatment found here.
Rating out of 10:  5

The Heartbreak Kid

A good comedy provides unexpected twists keeping audiences on their toes.  Serving their own brand of uncomfortably frank humour the Farrelly Brothers return to form.  Showing further comedic maturity, The Heartbreak Kid demonstrates they still have the knack of shocking their audience to the funny bone.
Eddie (Ben Stiller) is a commitment phobe afraid of reaching the alter.  After helping a robbery victim Lila (Malin Akerman) they begin a whirlwind romance.  Surprising friends by finally marrying, the happy couple set off on their honeymoon. However Lila transforms into a high heeled hellion making Eddie’s life a nightmare.  A chance meeting with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) is the only bright spark seemingly being his perfect match.  In between handling his unhinged wife and a new love, Eddie discovers that staying single is an option he should have perhaps stayed with.
One of the reasons for the success of the Farrelly’s films is the courage of their actors. Each film has shown how far they are willing to go grab the perfect comedic pitch. The central trio of Stiller, Akerman and Monaghan give very natural performances that heighten the absurd comedy of errors.  The Heartbreak Kid also works because the core concept is ripe for endless situations, which the brothers play to the hilt.  The setting of a sunny Mexican resort allows the various eccentric guests to mingle with the main characters in a non-contrived manner that suits the focussed screenplay.
Within any well written comedy there is a subtext to be found.  Eddie’s commitment shy persona not only hurts himself but the women around him.  Stiller’s role is one that is never satisfied, looking for any excuse to wriggle out of a relationship.  This is only one aspect that makes the multi-layered humour work, with the brothers’ notorious gross out humour kept to a minimum.  The soundtrack adds to the breezy atmosphere with several David Bowie tracks making events seem quirkier. 
The Heartbreak Kid is a good mix of juvenile and mature humour that almost lasts until the final reel.  After some less than stellar recent offerings, it’s good to see the Farrelly Brothers re-discovering their very un-PC mojo.
Rating out of 10:  7