Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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"How about you? Are you tired of my bullshit? "

Sept 21st, 2011

No H20 doesn't stand for the 20th sequel (were only halfway there with 10 Halloween flicks) but rather that this is an anniversary film celebrating 20 years since the original. Ok so that name kinda sucks but fortunately the movie doesn't and is the perfect conclusion to the original Halloween timeline. I said the perfect conclusion, just close your eyes and pretend that Resurrection never happened.

With the confusing state the Halloween films had been left in after Curse of Michael Myers the production crew wisely decide that it was time for a reboot. Crafting a new tale that was more of a direct sequel to the original movie (while still leaving room for the sequels to exist) we catch up with an older Laurie Strode who has been trying to live a normal life after the horrific events that scared her life as a teenager.

This was the first Halloween film that I was able to watch in the cinema and remains one of the best times I've had with a horror film. What I loved about this film was the fact that we finally got to see what the aftermath of a slasher film would be like.

While most slashers leave us walking away with the happy ending of a killers defeat in reality it's a much more sombre conclusion. Usually our surviving heroine has witnessed all her friends and family slaughtered and only barely managed to survive. Can you imagine what that could do to a person? The mental damage alone would be irreparable and fortunately H20 explores this brilliantly.

Laurie now living under a new name is the head of a private school where her son John attends. Relations between them are less than smooth as John has trouble understanding her over protective behaviour especially around the Halloween season (he knows why but hearing about something isn't the same as living it). Too bad for the Strodes (or the Tates as they are now known) Michael has finally tracked them down after 20 years. In a fantastic conclusion Laurie decides to no longer play the victim facing off with her long lost brother one last time (as I said Resurrection never happened).

H20 is far more in line with the first feature in both tone and style. The film is less about the crazy maniac and more about the damage he has caused to his victims. Michael's reign of terror only really kicks off in the final 30minutes of the flick allowing the film to craft characters that we can care about before they face terror incarnate. This means the focus is less on the spectacle of a kill but on the build up to it. As such the body count is smaller but no less significant.

While I love Halloween 4 I have to admit that H20 is a better movie continues the story perfectly. While not a path on the first (and how could it be it's a classic) this really feels like an organic conclusion and no better way to pay tribute to the first.

While Josh Hartnett as Laurie's son gives a commendable performance this really is Jamie Lee Curtis' show. Playing such a tormented figure allows her to display a far greater range than she did in the original. Though that is the point, prior she was the victim and as the film progresses we see her evolve to become a worthy adversary to Michael. She is so good in this that she actually overshadows the shape himself and had me clamouring for more scenes with her character rather than the stalk and slash moments. I may piss of Halloween fans by saying that but I think it's the best way to end Michael hold over not just the characters in the film but us as viewers. By his role no longer eliciting fear and a deeper impact the movie allows us to accept that perhaps it's best for him to be put out of his misery.

The rest of the cast which included Michelle Williams and of all people L L Cool J are actually quite likable and far a lot better than any of the dredge that popped into frame in the older sequels. This being the first without Donald Pleasence makes the viewing the first time feel as though an element is lacking but fortunately there is a nice little reference to him and his character during the titles.

There are a couple of flaws that stop this from being out right perfect. In all truth they are actually more minor annoyances that grate with me personally.

The music is bloody awful when they are not using the classic theme. For some reason during production it was decided to scrap an original score that had been created for the film as it was considered too low key. Now I don't quite buy into this as music in movies in my opinion is only there to support the action on screen not overshadow it. While there are exceptions to the rule what they did her was inexcusable.

Rather than commissioning a new score it was decided to use the same score from the Scream franchise. What a stupid decision as it not only takes me out of the film but reminds me of another franchise because the music there is also iconic. This stops the link between this and the original film from flowing better as H20 is lacking its own fluid theme.

This is also brought home by a very foolish scene that completely destroyed the illusion of the film world existing. At the halfway point two of the teenagers in the film are sitting down watching Scream 2 on TV. I know this sounds like nit picking but in my opinion was the worst decision in the movie. By showing Scream 2 not only did this draw attention to the fact that this film had the same soundtrack but made a film world paradox that movie buffs and fans of the Scream franchise couldn't escape. The first Halloween movie features prominently in the first Scream move (there's also a discussion about Jamie lee Curtis) which means these characters are watching a film where their lives are a film in its universe. It makes your head hurt.

After a bit of digging I managed to find a work print of H20. While not as significant as the infamous producers cut of Halloween 6 (in fact H20 is the same film) it includes the original soundtrack and a different movie on the TV screen. Why did they not release this version? It's far superior and the idea that Dimension had of advertising their other products was a foolish one. Let's hope we get this version as a release in the future.

While this was touted as ignoring the previous sequels that's not quite the case. The original script included scenes that link the franchise together and while a couple of important cuts were made there are still hints remaining within the finished product. The fact that Laurie had changed her name and gone into hiding follows up her supposed death in a car crash (Halloween 4). If this was a true follow up to part 2 Laurie would still have her name and Myers would be dead. Minor plot Holes aside H20 copes better than most.

Halloween H20 is the perfect conclusion before Myers got the remake treatment (Resurrection never happened). The ending is amazingly shot and leaves us with a great final image. I'd love to have this on Blu ray (although the shapes shitty new mask might not hold up in HD) and preferably with the original soundtrack. While this one lacks the fun factor of Halloween 4 it more than makes up for it with serious drama. This is a Halloween film I revisit quite a bit (especially if I've just watched the original).

Other reviews in the series

Halloween (1978)
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Halloween (2007)
Halloween II (2009)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Steve Miner
Screenplay: Robert Zapia
Matt Greenberg
Starring:Jamie Lee Curtis
LL Cool J
Josh Hartnett