Jun 18, 2014

Review: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

The best thing about Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is that the storyline ignores all the previous Halloween films expect for the original and its sequel. The stories of the rest of the sequels could easily be accused of just being excuses to introduce whatever Strode descendant there is that Michael Myers is trying to kill, especially the sixth one. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers digs quite deep with the baby of the niece of Laurie Strode being targeted. Imagine how far these movies could've gone...

John Carpenter was originally picked to direct this entry to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original Halloween. Carpenter and producer Moustapha Akkad don't have the best working relationship though and that's because Carpenter never really got properly compensated for Halloween. John Carpenter wanted $10 million as his director fee and Akkad refused. Instead, Steve Miner was brought in who's got some experience with two Friday the 13th sequels and he also went on to direct Lake Placid in 1999 following H20.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Genre: horror, thriller
Directed by: Steve Miner
Produced by: Paul Freeman, Moustapha Akkad, Cary Granat, etc.
Written by: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg
Music by: John Ottman, Jeremy Sweet, Marco Beltrami
Running time: 86 minutes
Production company: Dimension Films, Nightfall Productions, Trancas International Films
Distributed by: Dimension Films, Alliance Atlantis Communications, Kinowelt Filmverleih, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $17,000,000
Box office: $55,041,738 (North America)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Adam Hann-Byrd, Janet Leigh, Nancy Stephens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Chris Durand, Tom Kane, Branden Williams, Larisa Miller

_______________________________________________________________________________III

Synopsis 

 

It's 20 years after the events of Halloween, 1978. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) no longer goes by her original name and has since moved away from Haddonfield. Laurie goes by Keri Tate and she lives in North California, working as the principal of a boarding school. She hasn't recovered from the traumatizing events of 1978 and lives a haunted existence as a functioning alcoholic. She has a son (Josh Hartnett) now from a past marriage that ended in divorce who she constantly worries about. Is Laurie crazy to think that Michael Myers is still out there looking for her?

Review


It's not a spoiler to say that Michael Myers is indeed back. He's the man who just can't die after all and Laurie was right all along in thinking that he didn't die in that hospital fire from Halloween II. Everyone thought she was crazy for thinking as much. Too bad there isn't any Dr. Loomis though who does make an appearance only as a voice by someone pretending to be Donald Pleasence. The stakes are raised for Laurie though since she has her son to worry about.

A very welcome aspect of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is how things will be happening in the foreground and Michael Myers will be hanging out in the background unbeknownst to anyone. It reminds me a bit of the original Halloween in the sense of being quietly creepy. Steve Miner doesn't keep that atmosphere up though. He inserts a few too many "nothing jump scares" which gets old.

I also think that the references to films like Psycho and Scream don't have any place in this film. Yes they're horror icons but can't Halloween stand on its own two feet? Janet Leigh, the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis has a role as Laurie Strode's secretary which is cute I suppose but the scene in question goes on too long. I've never seen Scream unfortunately but the 90's teen horror influence is alive and well in H20 and I know that Scream is pretty much responsible for that.

The score is a big weakness of Halloween H20 because it's just totally disjointed. John Ottman is the original composer but studio heads weren't pleased with the final product. Music from Marco Beltrami's Scream and Scream 2  scores are inserted into H20 and I think that's a mistake. Ottman wasn't please understandably and neither am I. The producers went with the lazy route here.

It sounds like Halloween H20 isn't a very good movie but that's not totally true. Michael Myers himself is pretty well utilized and his initial face-to-face meeting with Laurie is absolutely chilling. The movie is at its best when it's Laurie and Michael Myers. The movie as a whole isn't all that scary though and almost feels more like a revenge thriller.

All in all, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a bit of a lost opportunity. Halloween is its own series that doesn't need injections from Psycho or Scream to be any good. The attempt at raising the stakes with Laurie having a son to watch out for doesn't really work and I think the movie would've been stronger with just Laurie. Establishing her as a haunted character is well done and should've been what was focused on. Steve Miner delivers mixed results.

Rating


5.5/10