Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later, released in 1998, brings Jamie Lee Curtis back to the franchise that made her famous in horror as a prep school principal with a son and a continued fear that her brother will come back for her, 20 years later. Produced by one of horror’s best, Kevin Williamson, and containing a lovely cameo by Janet Leigh, Curtis’ mother, and horror’s original scream queen, this film didn’t necessarily disappoint me, but it didn’t wow me either. It’s the perfect five, a mediocre film with nothing truly bad about it, but also nothing great about it.
This film largely relies on audience loyalty to the franchise and the memories of why it’s a great film and fails to establish new, innovative reasons for why it is great. There’s the same wonderfully, creepy score created by John Carpenter. Myers looks and acts exactly the same as he has before, including my favorite quality about him - he never runs. Never. Not even a jog. Bastard probably could have killed a lot more people if he just picked up the pace. 20 years after the original attack, Curtis’ character has faked her death, changed her name, had a child, become principal of a boarding school and still has a bucket’s worth of mental issues and fear regarding Myers. And why shouldn’t she? The guy has it out for her. I had no trouble believing she was still tormented by him years later and I had no trouble believing that Halloween remains the worst day of her year.
Everything about that setup was great, but it just didn’t go anywhere. Myers inevitably returns, wreaking havoc on her son and his friends, and Laurie Strode/Keri Tate (Curtis) must finally face her fears and take him on. And that was...fine. But there wasn’t anything amazing about the story. With a great backstory and a great setup, I expected something better. There were some great parlor tricks, such as Myers and Strode/Tate spotting each other for the first time through the window of a door. And there were some great deaths involving corkscrews and ice skates. But there weren’t that many deaths; there were more survivors than expected for a horror film and at times, Myers actually spared people’s lives, which seemed out of character. After some meandering around with the students, the film does come full circle and feature a showdown between Myers and the sister he’s been after for years. This showdown lasts a long time and involves a knifing and an intentional car crash, among other things. It’s vindicating for the audience to watch her fight him. We’re totally cheering her on, hoping she puts an end to this madness, but secretly hoping she doesn’t so we’ll see him back on the big screen. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say, this movie ends with a bang.
It’s a fun ride, nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t walk away thinking it was the best horror film ever, or even the best of the franchise (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers destroys this one). But it definitely wasn’t the worst of the franchise, as Halloween III: Season of the Witch will hold that crown forever. No loss in serial killers on horror island, but no gain either. Lucky for them, they’re a burgeoning group that’s not facing extinction. Fans of the franchise will ultimately enjoy this one, I think. But if you haven’t seen any Halloween films prior to this, don’t bank on this one to reel you in.
If you liked Halloween H2O, you might also like Halloween Resurrection, Halloween (2007) and Halloween 2 (2009).