Rated R, for a lot of stuff except for nudity. Mind you, LL Cool J is an erotic novelist, which oddly might be even more awkward than ignoring a sex scene. It's oddly charming, which is a horrible thing to say, but it is in the movie. Also, Michael Myers murders a bunch of kids. I should mention that. This is where gore effects actually get pretty impressive. If you aren't okay with compound fractures, maybe steer clear.
DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
I have all kinds of hooks. A good hook not only grabs a readers attention, but also provides a throughline. A good hook, from Michael Myers's perspective, is to murder kids, preferably ones that are related to him. There's just so much I want to say when it comes to Halloween H20, the worst named movie in the franchise. I get it. 20 years. Halloween...but twenty years later. But we're all thinking that it's Halloween Water, a fun and refreshing drink that one enjoys while trick-or-treating. But this was the movie that got me into the Halloween franchise. I was fifteen when this came out. Scream changed everything for me and Dimension Films ruled the schoolyard. (Oh geez, is the same thing going to happen to Blumhouse?) I saw this movie a whole bunch of times when I was a kid, but never in order of the franchise. What I didn't know was that H20 was going to be the first movie to do a massive retcon. Let's be honest, the rest of the series liked playing with retcons. But these retcons were minor and typical. H20, I never realized, was a full-on retcon of the events of 4, 5, and 6. They undid Jamie, Laurie Strode's daughter. They oddly kept the faking one's death in a car accident, but it decided to retcon a ton of information. We're used to reboots and soft reboots now. Jurassic World made sure of that. But H20 just decided to say that this is the second story involving Michael Myers.
I can't really blame them. I mean, 4-6 are pretty awful. I mean, The Curse of Michael Myers alone makes the movie extremely difficult to sequelize. (I read a Wiki establishing that Halloween comic books sequelized that trilogy and kept Laurie Strode as a headmistress at a school. Is it weird that I want to read a comic book sequel to a trilogy that I didn't care for? Also, there were talks to bring back Jamie for Resurrection. I have no idea how that would have worked.) It really does change the dynamic, resetting and all. I don't know if it is a perfect answer. I mean, we're about to cross that bridge again with the David Gordon Greene's version of Halloween, but what does that actually change. (Also, we should start titling these movies after the director that makes the movie. John Carpenter's Halloween, Rob Zombie's Halloween, David Gordon Greene's Halloween, etc.) I like that the focus is again on Laurie Strode. Unlike other series with the exception of the first four Alien movies, we really don't get to see the focus on a character acting as a throughline. I know that Heather Langenkamp appears in multiple Nightmare on Elm Street entries, but Laurie Strode is vital to the series. Jamie Lee Curtis reappearing for this movie does something amazing for the entire franchise. This movie is the right amount of fresh that a seventh movie in the series needs. Throughout the movies, I've been whining about how nothing really feels new or things feel just stupid and new. H20, bad title included, solves that problem. It reintroduces something classic while changing the dynamics of the entire series. Part of that can be chalked up to the Scream franchise (which I now have a desire to rewatch.) Kevin Williamson even co-executive produced this movie, so you can feel the influence on the movie as a whole. I'm losing my threads, but I do want to talk about treating this movie as something special. Let me go back to Jamie Lee Curtis. Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie Strode gives us the emotional ties to the original series, but the worn and exhausted Haddonfield gets a break. I never understood why people lived in Haddonfield or weren't more cautious about Halloween. But Michael didn't have any ties to the house, despite how many times that the series told us that Michael's house was important. There's that scene in The Revenge of Michael Myers where Loomis brings Jamie back to the house, but that was really forced. There didn't seem to be much of a plan. But Michael's drive was always about his family. Laurie Strode is his family as is his new cousin-once-removed (?). A school is a great new dynamic. Rather than forcing separate locations like the previous entries did, we really get just a focused narrative of Michael stalking his prey. It's not absolute. The beginning with baby Joseph Gordon Levitt reminds us that we have to have a scare pretty early. But there are structural parallels between the original Halloween and this one.
And that's what makes the movie special! (See, I brought it back!) This movie is patient. As part of the whole sequelitis of the other films, Michael Myers always had to amp up his game. Halloween: Resurrection won't learn from the past, but I'll talk about that tomorrow hopefully. (I just collected a stack of papers and I need to read 80 pages of Oronooko.) This movie has deaths, to be sure. But Michael is making the same slow trip from one place and closing in on Laurie Strode. We have the misleads and the stalking all over again. I think the creepiest things about the first movie is Michael just standing among laundry. If you've seen the first movie, you know what I'm talking about. This movie doesn't get any exactly iconic moments like that, but it has the same heart as the first one. We get a lot of Laurie questioning her reality. The walls close in. I don't love that they made her an alcoholic. I don't think the payoff is as strong as they want it to be with that. The filmmakers wanted to show that she was broken since her initial encounter with her brother, but it is very hamfisted. Again, I'm playing devil's advocate (kind of pun intended). The great thing about the Halloween movies is that they are tight and short films. We have been removed from Laurie Strode for about 20 years. That's not accurate because Halloween II is in the early '80s. But you get what I'm saying. There's a lot of catch-up that we need to do with the character and alcoholism is kind of a shortcut. It's a necessary evil (pun intended) and I guess we have to accept that. But the rest of the movie is crafted like we should care. This doesn't just feel like another entry in the franchise. There's nothing really all that corny about Michael Myers and the movie dares to have a little bit of fun while terrorizing its victims. I mean, look at the choices in this movie. It has jokes that are actually funny. The LL Cool J stuff is pretty great. I don't necessarily love the dynamics of the rich white kids pushing around the black security guard, but I'm going to move past that because J doesn't seem to mind too much. But then there's Janet Leigh is in this movie and has tons of scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis. I'm going to go film teacher for this one. Janet Leigh is Jamie Lee Curtis's biological mother. They have both earned the mantel of "Scream Queens". Janet Leigh was one of the main characters in Psycho. Having scenes together. Giving Leigh the original car from Psycho. John Ottman integrating the Psycho score. How great is all of that. Also, apparently John Ottman is the guy you hire when you need to rearrange someone else's iconic scores.
Halloween H20 isn't perfect. It is a little dated, as are many of the entries in the series. But I also love how much it seems to love Halloween. Sure, the mask keeps on changing and looks goofy even in the best of times. There are some really goofy moments and Josh Hartnett has moments that don't really land. But it also was a breath of fresh air in the series in a series that was really becoming a bit of a chore. Michael Myers is scary again. Sure, I'm now more flummoxed by how smart he can sometimes be and how he lowers himself from very short ceilings, but the faults don't stop an overall solid entry in the franchise from succeeding.
Seriously. Michael Myers at one point does some investigating and complex geolocation. It's really weird.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.