Steve Miner, 1998
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Josh Hartnett, Joseph Gordon Levitt
Exactly twenty years after Michael Myers tried to kill Laurie Strode and slaughtered a number of her high school friends, he manages to track her down by finding her file in the home of Nurse Chambers, Dr. Loomis’s assistant for many years. Laurie has changed her name and moved to California, where she lives with her 17 year old son John and works as the head mistress of an exclusive boarding school. Laurie has been suffering from paranoia, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; she is also a functioning alcoholic.
She is terrified that Michael will find her again and, as a result, is very controlling with her son. She has refused to allow him to go on a weekend trip to Yosemite with his classmates, but his girlfriend Molly and friends Charlie and Sarah have also decided to stay behind. At the last minute, Laurie changes her mind, planning a romantic weekend with her boyfriend Will, the school’s counselor and therapist, and John pretends to leave. John, Molly, Charlie, and Sarah set up their secret Halloween party in the school just as Michael arrives. He puts a quick, brutal end to their fun. They meet up with Laurie and Will, as well as the school’s security guard, and try to survive the night.
This seventh film in the Halloween series marks the 20th anniversary of the original film. Directed by Steve Miner, who also helmed Friday the 13th Part 2 and Lake Placid, it would be reasonable to assume that the seventh movie in a series would be absolutely terrible. Unfortunately, you’d be hard pressed to find worst sequels than Halloween 5 or 6 and H20 succeeds almost solely because it’s better than those two festering turds. H20 also completely ignores the events of 4 through 6, essentially picking up 20 years after Halloween II, which took place the same night as Halloween.
It’s amazing that the studio convinced Jamie Lee Curtis to return. Overall this is a clever idea and is certainly far afield from the previous sequels, but she’s given a poorly written role. Laurie is downright unlikable. She survives on pills and not very sneakily hidden bottles of alcohol. She bullies her son, is edgy and paranoid, and isn’t very nice to her boyfriend either. There’s also the implausible idea that she could survive with an advanced case of PTSD for 20 years without completely losing her marbles. It would have been interesting if the script had played with that element, but alas.
If this feels somewhat like Scream, it’s because writer and producer Kevin Williamson was involved in the creation of H20. Much like Scream, it has that slick, late ‘90s feel, which also means the plot is incredibly predictable and the production is almost completely devoid of style or personality. It isn’t a terrible film, just simply not one with any life left in it. Curtis’s mother, Janet Leigh, appears here briefly as a secretary and drives off in the Ford from Psycho. I’m not sure why the writers or producers wanted to make a Psycho reference, but I’m guessing that like Scream, they were hoping to throw a number of horror movie references at the audience to prove how clever and knowledgable they are.
There are also a number of other Hollywood actors that appear here, such as Josh Hartnett (Sin City) as Laurie’s son, Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) as his girlfriend, and LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea) as the security guard who writes erotica in his spare time. I’m not kidding when I say that I wish he had more screen time. Adam Arkin (West Wing, Sons of Anarchy) plays Laurie’s therapist boyfriend and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick) has a brief role as a hockey playing high school student who meets an amusing end.
I’m so tired of writing about the Halloween series that it’s difficult to be objective. The film certainly has plenty of flaws. As I said earlier, it’s predictable, devoid of style or personality, and suffers from a pretty lousy script. The iconic mask looks terrible and in certain scenes was allegedly replaced with CGI. Speaking of terrible, Jamie Lee Curtis and Josh Hartnett happen to have exactly the same haircut.
There are some things to like, such as some nice references to the first film, including the appearance of Dr. Loomis’s assistant (Nancy Stephens) from Halloween and Halloween II, who opens the film. The opening is also stronger because of the appearance of a young Joseph Gordon Levitt. H20 isn’t nearly as bad as 5 or 6, but it is definitely trying to jump on the Scream band wagon.