Halloween H20: Revisited

John Carpenter priced himself out of the production, so it was up to Friday the 13th Part II and III director Steve Miner to fill his shoes for Halloween H20.

But can anyone really fill Carpenter’s shoes?

In this update (terrible title, my god) we meet Laurie Strode again, 20 years after the Haddonfield massacre and living under an assumed name. And she’s moved to California, which is rather hilarious as there were a few unintended palm trees as well as a mountain range popping up in the supposed “Illinois town” of the first film.

Strode is still being tormented by visions of The Shape, creepy masked killer Michael Myers.

Gotta hand it to Myers. Maybe he had a private investigator? Or maybe he’s telekinetically connected to his sis. Who knows? Either way, he managed to find her and make the 2,000-mile trek out west.

Rarely can horror films be accused of being blessed with acting talent. But…There’s an embarrassment of riches here. There’s Jamie Lee Curtis (a given), but also Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, and LL Cool J as well. So with a running head-start, how does this one fare?

Upon revisiting…not so well.

First off, the Hogwarts-type setting where Strode is headmistress doesn’t do it any favors.

Sense of place can make a world of difference in horror. The very best horrors have exceptional, memorable settings. Think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or the grimy streets of Ed Koch-era New York in Maniac.

This is a humdrum stucco prep school. Dull-as-dirt.

And there are two ways to go with antagonists: either they’re the focus and you go inside their heads like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, or there’s the less-is-more mystery…what we’ve come to expect from Michael Myers. Here, he “insists himself upon you,” to paraphrase Peter Griffin’s take-down of The Godfather.

By the admittedly low standards of reboots, H20 isn’t even close to being the worst. That being said, it occupies space alongside Zombie’s Halloween as thoroughly unnecessary.

** (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Halloween H20!]

4 thoughts on “Halloween H20: Revisited

  1. I never liked this movie for two reasons:

    1. It retconned the fourth, fifth, and sixth films out of canon, which I frankly found insulting. Granted, they weren’t the best of the series, but to insult the late Donald Pleasance by effectively erasing the films and relegating them to the dustbin is just disrespectful in the extreme.

    2. You can’t apply Friday the 13th story-telling models to Halloween. It just doesn’t work. Neither does applying Kevin Williamson’s shoddy screenwriting. The story had plenty of potential and could have been great, but it just didn’t respect the middle trilogy of films and the narrative structure wasn’t a good fit.

    Like

      • I’ve mixed feelings about Rob Zombie’s first reboot film. I get what he was trying to do and he certainly had plenty of respect for the original material—perhaps too much, because it seemed as though he wasted a lot of time throwing in references and not enough time concentrating on the story, especially the second half.

        But while the first half did a fairly good job of examining Michael Myers as a person and the time he spent in the sanitarium, and fleshed out his mother perhaps better than many expected, the second half, the remake portion, stumbled badly especially with regard to depicting Laurie Strode. In John Carpenter’s original film, she’s likeable, relatable, maternal, the immovable object to Myers’ unstoppable force. In Zombie’s reboot, she’s just another generic slasher chick you almost want to die because she’s so annoying.

        So, I give that film a C+, B-. The sequel was just awful, and according to rumor, Rob Zombie hadn’t even wanted to do it but felt compelled to make sure the Akkads couldn’t churn out more in that continuity.

        Liked by 1 person

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