When Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers came out it seemed as if we had finally reached the bottom of the barrel. The movie was a massive failure on every level. For a while it looked like it put the final nail in the coffin of the Halloween franchise. Besides it was 1995; the slasher genre was dead. But then a funny thing happened: director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson reinvented the slasher genre with Scream. Much like sudden success of the original Halloween movie this paved the way for a whole bunch of new slasher movies. Original properties like I Know What You Did Last Summer, but also sequels to existing properties like Chucky, Jason and of course Michael Myers. So two years after the release of Scream we got a Halloween sequel written by the writer of Scream: Halloween H20.
The most notable aspect of Halloween H20 is how it retcons the movie series. Some of the previous movies themselves have their fair share of retconning the endings of their predecessors just to have an excuse to bring back Michael Myers. Halloween H20 takes it a few steps further. It ignores at least every movie after Halloween II and cherry-picks some elements and events from that movie. Mainly that Laurie Strode is Michael’s sister.
In Halloween H20 it has been 20 years since Michael Myers killed a bunch of babysitters in Haddonfield, leaving Laurie Strode as his only survivor. While he’s presumed dead and Laurie Strode is living under an assumed name in California. She is the dean of a private school and has a 17-year old son who goes to said school. She suffers from PTSD and often hallucinates that her brother is stalking her.
Meanwhile Michael is trying to find the whereabouts of his sister. Once he has a lead he travels to California and Laurie Strode must face her biggest fear in a final showdown. Well final for now at least since there have been sequels following this movie.
Halloween H20 is finally a good sequel to the original masterpiece. Both Halloween 2 and 4 were decent, but this one is superior to both those movies. Most of it comes from the writing by Williamson. He wisely ignores all the previous sequels and brings back the original heroine of the series: Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. It’s good to see her again and the movie effectively deals with the result of her trauma. She has flashbacks, hallucinations and self-medicates with alcohol. Unlike most movie alcoholics she is rather successful in life otherwise. She’s the dean of a private school, has a romantic interest and a son to whom she’s a bit overprotective. Especially on Halloween.
The premise is very simple, but in the final act Williamson surprises us by turning the tables. Instead of creating yet another simple game of cat and mouse in which Laurie tries to flee from Meyers he gives her character a moment of self-empowerment. Once her son is safe she looks herself in with him on the school premises. She goes after him with an ax, calling him by shouting out his name. It’s a moment we haven’t seen before in this franchise. The finale between her and Michael goes back and forth of them being both the hunter or the hunted. But of course Myers is the dominating one of them both. At one point displaying almost superhuman strength when he throws tables in the air as if they were paper weights.
Halloween H20 might be the best sequel up until now, bu it does have flaws. This is a crowd-pleasing movie, but not a masterpiece like the original. After the opening scene in which Meyers has a few nice kills the movie takes it time to set everything up. This is the shortest of all Halloween movies, but Myers doesn’t actually start his reign of terror in California until the 55 minute mark. Until then the time is filled with false scares. This makes the movies drag from time to time.
Some of the characters were very inconsistently written. A character could do something smart in one scene, only to do something stupid in another. One of the more annoying things being that nobody ever bothers to call the police. It’s not that Myers has cut the phone wires. They just don’t even try.
I also had a problem with the way Myers’ mask looks. In the first movie Loomis’ mentions in his memorable monologue how Myers has “the blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes”. I think the character works best when the eyes are obscured by shadows. Here the eyes are very much visible throughout the entire movie. This weakens the character in my opinion. In the Friday The 13th franchise Jason’s eyes are obscured as well, often only showing two black holes. We only see his eyes in close-ups. They should take the same approach with Myers. It makes him look more ominous. The mask itself is nothing special, though its look changes throughout the movie.
Halloween H20 is full of references which I liked. Some subtle, some less so. Of of the better references being the moment when Janet Leigh steps into the same car she drove in Psycho and the theme of that movie is playing in the background. Other are a bit on the nose, like a kid wearing a hockey mask in the opening scene. What did you expect from the director who directed Friday the 13th parts 2 and 3?
Halloween H20 is not a great movie, but is is a great Halloween sequel. But that’s not saying much considering the competition. This movie closes the Michael Myers story quite nicely. Too bad the Halloween:Resurrection will undo all of that.