Halloween's Watered Down Horror
20 Years after the original "Halloween" and several lack lustre sequels later Michael Myers is back, again! Whilst "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" is a huge improvement on most of the sequels it still doesn't quite match up to John Carpenter's original "Halloween". With it feeling more akin to the "Scream" series of movies, which is not really a surprise with Kevin Williamson on board as a producer, "Halloween H20" provides plenty of shocks; a few horror in jokes and bucks the trend where not everyone becomes dispensable.
Having faked her own death and changed her name to Keri Tate, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is now a head mistress at a private school where her 17 year old John (Josh Hartnett - 40 Days and 40 Nights) attends. But 20 years after her first encounter with her brother, the killer Michael Myers, she is still haunted that he is out there looking for her and with Halloween just hours away her nightmares are becoming worse. Well her nightmares become real when Myers turns up at the school on Halloween night looking once again to kill his sister.
One of the best things which "Halloween H20" does is to try and ignore most of those poor sequels, focussing back on the character of Laurie Strode and of course her brother Michael Myers. The movie starts with a nice quick prologue so for those who have not seen the original get a quick history and also provides a brief cameo for Nancy Stephens to reprise her role of Marion Chambers Whittington the nurse who worked for Dr. Sam Loomis. Then once this early catch up is dispatched with in a manner which sets the tone for the rest of the movie, we get into the main storyline, that being of Laurie who having faked her death and become a teacher still fears that her brother is out there looking for her.
The thing is with any of these "Halloween" movies is that firstly there are going to be a lot of unanswered questions, most notably how does Michael manage to survive for all those years hidden behind a mask but also that as well as being evil incarnate he appears to have super powers which means he can be beaten to a pulp and still get up for more. But then anything in the least bit realistic would probably spoil the "Halloween" movies and it's the total absurdity of the storylines and action which actually keep us coming back.
As storylines go "Halloween H20" isn't too bad and it would be reasonably easy for us to believe that having faked her death and changed her name Laurie had managed to start a new life, have a child etc etc but still be battling her demons. It sort of makes sense but after this "Halloween H20" doesn't really throw anything new at us as it turns into a pretty much stock slasher movie. It does try to throw in a couple of twists but unfortunately they are not that clever or exciting meaning the best way to watch "Halloween H20" is not for any storyline but for the frights.
Talking of the frights, well "Halloween H20" mixes a tiny bit of modern gore with plenty of traditional scares. What I mean is for the most "Halloween H20" will make you jump by the unexpected rather than something which is overly graphical. In honesty "Halloween H20" is not in the least bit gruesome and there was only one really memorable scene which was in the least bit gore orientated. But that didn't bother me as there are countless times where you can feel it building up to something only to deliver a shock from something unseen.
Plus of course there are a few in jokes, one particular good one features Jamie Lee Curtis's actual mother Janet Leigh who is more famous for her role in the original "Psycho". In "Halloween H20" she turns round to Laurie or Keri Tate as she is known and says "Oh. Miss Tate. I didn't mean to make you jump. It's Halloween. I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare" which made me laugh knowing the tie in to her previous roles. This is something which Kevin Williamson does brilliantly he makes horror movies which appeal to horror fans because there will be subtle nods to classics.
As for the performances well Jamie Lee Curtis is the star of the movie and turning her character on it's head where she confronts her demons makes her character a little different to those generally placed in the lead of a horror movie. But to be honest it felt a little like Curtis was coasting, which isn't that surprising as you don't really expect much more from actors in horror movies. "Halloween H20" also introduces us to Josh Hartnett as her son John who in all fairness does a good job of playing a typical teen in a horror flick. The same can be said pretty much for all the other performances from the likes of Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams and also L L Cool J who manages to provide a bit of comedy but ends up seriously underused.
What this all boils down to is that as part of the "Halloween" series "Halloween H20" is in my opinion a great addition and is superior to many of the sequels, although it doesn't getting anywhere close to matching the suspense and tension of the original. Purists will criticise it and cite it as being too commercial aimed at a new audience rather than those who have watched the "Halloween" movies develop but for me it's entertaining and worth at least one viewing if not more.