So, how great would it be if we could just forget all about Halloween III through Halloween 6 and start over with a new sequel with its own continuity... hey, right in time for the twentieth anniversary of the original? Well, it wouldn't be worth anything without Jamie Lee Curtis... but she loved the idea and signed on as soon as she... well... thought of it. Naturally Producer Moustapha Akkad and his son Malek still needed to eat, so THEY were on board. Throw in Bob and Harvey Weinstein and you're most assuredly running with the big guys.
Yeah, you see, the idea of a 20 year reunion between smilin' Laurie Strode and her pale-faced big brother was timely indeed, seeing as how that 20 year anniversary fell right after Scream and Scream 2 made their super-heavy impact on Horror Cinema (for better or for worse). The influence of Scream can be seen all over this movie from the tone to the casting to the movements of the killer to even the credit of Scream and Scream 2 writer Kevin Williamson as co-executive producer! Reportedly he even re-wrote the script, credited to Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg!
But, hey, it's only fair, right? Without Halloween, there could be no Scream right?
Unfortunately... The end result of this new film, entitled Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later is, well, not so great! Oh it's an improvement over its predecessors, yes, but with the return of Jamie Lee, the production credits going to such notables and the director's chair going to the go-to horror-sequel guy, Steve Miner, one might have expected a film that approached the original (or at least the first sequel). The sad thing is, it really is more of a combination of Halloween (with its silent menace and lack of overt gore) and Scream with its... everything else). Yes, while without Halloween there could be no Scream, without Scream there could be no Halloween H20!
Our film kicks off, as it ought to, just around Halloween in the erstwhile peaceful town of Haddonfield, Illonois. Yes, once again, Evil comes Home... but when Mikey of the Shiny, New Mask shows up (this time played by Chris Durand), he doesn't find anybody named either Myers or Strode. In fact, all he finds is the Nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) hanging around the old place with a file of just where sweet sister Laurie ran off to. Undaunted, Michael is happy enough to prey on her instead, along with her skinny neighbor kid Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)!
The good news is that Laurie is alive, not dead, and living in California as the Head Mistress of a prestigious school. She now has a new identity (that of Keri Tate), a hipster son named John (Josh Hartnett) and an eager boyfriend named Will (Adam Arkin)! The bad news is, she's still having nightmares about Bubba Mike, especially around the anniversary of "The Day HE Came Home". It's even to the point that she's become seriously overprotective of John (who actually knows the whole story) and is keeping him all-too-much under her wing. This deeply sucks for John, because he has a hot girlfriend in the form of Molly Cartwell (Michelle Williams) that he'd love to go away with for the Halloweekend!
Needless to say, John has picked the wrong year to try to get Mommy to ease off, seeing as how his long, lost uncle is about to pop up for a surprise family reunion of his own, and he ain't brung NO TOYS! Might I say Laurie's deepest fears are about to be realized? Might I add, if not... we wouldn't really have a movie, would we?
And this, folks, is actually a pretty damned good setup. It makes sense, doesn't specifically deny the existence of the previous entries in the series and brings the major playerst together in a surprising way. However, once Michael Myers shows up, what we get is a very standardized Slasher Flick, forever stuck in the late 1990s and showing it in most every frame. There are admittedly some moments of genuine suspense and terror along with the occasional surprise. Further, it's worth noting that the acting is good all the way down the line, right on down to the cameo of Curtis' own mommy Janet Leigh (driving the same car she did in Psycho). However, the casting of LL Cool J as the mostly unnecessary security guard Ronny Jones feels a lot like just one more attempt at Halloween H20 to be Hip in the face of its stiffer, newer competition.
And that's the rub of this film. The title promises a return to form and Miner, to an extent, delivers this as best he can. Still, the tone of the film and the almost checklist-driven late-90s prerequisites for a HIT drag the film down instead of keeping it nearly as Cool as the producers thoroughly intended. There is very little character development or mystery here and once Michael shows up, he starts acting a lot more like "Ghost Face" from Scream than the SHAPE of Pure Evil. If there was any real question what the filmmakers were going for here, we even catch a glimpse of Scream 2 playing on a TV in one of the student dorms. Yeah, we get it, we get it!!!
It's possible that forethoughts of this very type of "Requirement"-based Horror is what caused original writer/ director John Carpenter to turn down the director's chair and leave it open for Miner. Though Carpenter's creepy piano theme is back, that, and the characters he created with Debra Hill are really the only things here that truly feel like Halloween as opposed to "Just Another Sequel".
That said, Halloween H20 does do a hell of a lot better than most of the sequels in this overlong franchise and still comes off as a better film than the rebooted series. There is even a very cool and satisfying ending that would have been a very nifty close to the saga on the whole... if they hadn't shoved just one more sequel (in the form of 2002's Halloween: Resurrection) at us just a few years later.
No matter if you love it, hate it or just make excuses for it, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later does not quite succeed in becoming the great film it might have been without so much outside influence. As it stands, it gets Two and one half Stars out of Five! Twenty Years and this is the era it had to fall in. Sure there was a resurgence in horror flicks, but in 1998 they were all starting to look the same, man! Twenty Years... And what about that title? It's actually pronounced "Aitch Two Oh" instead of "Aitch Twenty". So, basically it means "Halloween Water"? How is that scary? Unless, of course, it was bottled by Silver Shamrock or something... but really... Halloween Water? Is that just giving us all an excuse to leave the theatre for a restroom break or something? I mean, yeah, it's got a certain ring to it, but... is it scary? Who knows? Let's just be glad we have a Halloween Review this year and ring out the next reel with a blade-spinning slash.
|What's New?||Alphabetical Listing of Reviews!||SearchThisSite:||Advertise With Us!||About...||Lynx Links:||F*A*Q|