Horror review: Halloween H20

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 6, 1998

By Steve Newton

Hollywood surely is the land of make-believe—especially for people like the producers of Halloween: H20. Why, they only had to close their eyes and click their heels three times and all those pesky Halloween sequels—including 1995’s nonsensical Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers—vanished from memory. That way, they could pretend that H20 was the actual follow-up to John Carpenter’s low-budget blockbuster of 1978 and make a big deal about it taking place 20 years after the original.

Too bad it’s only a smidgen better than the series’ first first sequel, 1981’s gory Halloween II.

Directed by Steve Miner—famous for getting Jason to squeeze a guy’s head so hard in Friday the 13th, Part III that one of his eyeballs shot right out at ya in 3-D—H20 finds masked slasher Michael Myers still stalking his sister, Laurie Strode (original Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis). Under the alias Keri Tate, Strode now works as the headmistress of a private school in a small Northern California town, and because she’s severely traumatized by her run-in with Myers, she guzzles copious amounts of Chardonnay, gets testy with waiters, and necks with the school’s boring guidance counsellor (Adam Arkin).

Because Mikey frowns on office romances, he sets out to teach Strode a lesson, but he first warms up by plunging a hockey skate into a beer-stealing teen’s face and slitting the throat of a nurse who bugged him in Halloween. Then he sets out after Strode’s 17-year-old son and his three school friends, who’ve skipped out on a field trip to Yosemite National Park in favour of trying to have sex. But the only penetration occurs via Myers’s trusty butcher knife—at least until Strode reverts to her heroic scream-queen persona. In the meantime, the filmmakers reach new heights of psychological sadism by having the alcoholic basket case relive her mind-numbing nightmare in a cruel, drawn-out fashion.

In the first page of the Halloween: H20 press kit, there’s a friendly request from the folks at Alliance Releasing to “keep as many, if not all, of its exciting plot developments a secret so that the audience can enjoy them for the first time”. Well, audiences won’t be enjoying anything for the first time here. The minimalistic keyboard score, shadow-drenched lighting, and low, constantly moving camera are all throwbacks to Halloween.

And as far as “exciting plot developments” go, not even wishes in the land of make-believe could conjure those.

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