Night #20: Halloween H20 (1998)

Directed By: Steve Miner

Oh, we’ve got a psychotic serial killer in the family who loves to butcher people on Halloween, and I just thought it in bad taste to celebrate.”

I guess we’re in an unofficial sequel run this week, which suits me fine. It was during a Netflix browse (Where usually there’s too much choice for me to make a committed decision) that I realised I’d never actually seen this sequel to the great Halloween. 

Halloween was the classier relative of Friday the 13th. Even throughout the run of sequels there was also something which set Halloween apart from its grimer, low-rent cousin. It’s entirely unfair of course, because while Friday the 13th was working on perfecting the formula (And then just going on to do it poorly), Halloween was more concerned with taking its own mythology and twisting it around before eventually vanishing up its own ass.

There’s no mention of curses, or Thorn, the secret Celtic cult that controlled Michael Myers. Instead this entry (Unsurprisingly coming 20 years after the first movie) skips the other sequels and continues from where Halloween 2 left things off. I never liked the idea of Laurie Strode being Michael’s sister. It takes something away from it when you realise that Michael didn’t just pick her from random. Halloween does such a great job in keeping Michael a mystery as a character (Something that Rob Zombie’s remake had no interest in doing) that explaining that he’s on some sort of quest to finish off the task he started ruins that mystique. It’s a silly little twist that doesn’t offer anything of worth to the story. It’s enough to know that Michael wants her dead, you don’t need to throw in patricide too.

Still, H20 tries to do something with this. It presents Laurie as a survivor, albeit a slightly damaged one who’s changed her name and gone into hiding. She works at a private school where her son Josh Hartnett (Making his film debut) and his friends frequent. Michael Myers, being all Michael Myers-y, manages to track her down and tries to put her in the ground one more time.

It’s pretty much stalk-and-slash from there, with the film running a scant 80-something minutes. I say stalk-and-slash, it’s pretty much just appear-and-slash. The influence of Scream is clearly felt in this one (It’s easy to picture an executive calling for “more of that smart talk, like in that movie Scream“), with Michael now just being a killer of the ‘now you see me’ variety instead of the Michael of the first film who would stalk his targets, occasionally fucking with them when he felt like it. I like that the movie gets the perfunctory teen romance out of the way, ships off those characters and then lets the climax focus on Laurie and Michael again.

On that note, it is nice to see that there’s some adults in the mix. It always seems more interesting when there’s a more diverse group of characters, again I’m going to namecheck Final Destination 2, maybe because it’s harder to use cliches if you’re cast isn’t just high school kids. It’s almost like the writer has to force themselves to create characters and not caricatures. I mean sure they all die the same, but it’s fun while it lasts.

I would’ve liked a longer running time. The film runs under 90 minutes so why not pad it out a bit. There must’ve been some stuff left on the cutting room floor (There was indeed a scene written that treats parts 3 through 6 as canon, but was rejected) so just throw it in there. Have Michael stalk some people. Have LL Cool J say something funny. I guess brevity is the soul of horror, that’s a saying right?

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