Halloween: H20
Rating -

Horror (US); 1998; Rated R; 85 Minutes

Jamie Lee Curtis: Laurie Strode/Keri Tate
Adam Arkin: Will
Josh Hartnett: John
Michelle Williams: Molly
Adam Hann-Byrd: Charlie
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe: Sarah
Janet Leigh: Norma
LL Cool J: Ronny

Produced by Malek Akkad, Moustapha Akkad, Paul Freeman, Cary Granat, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Williamson; Directed by Steve Miner; Screenwritten by Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg and Kevin Williamson

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Steve Miner's "Halloween: H20" comes off as a big surprise, especially considering that only two of the previous six "Halloween" films were worth recommending. But it shockingly works, even after the genre's rebirth from the "Scream" pictures. Here is a film that ultimately proves perhaps, for right now, there is still some life left in the typical slasher formula.

The movie borrows the simple craftsmanship that worked so well with the previous great "Halloween" films and manages to freshen it up to where we are not just viewing a formulaic and uninspired film. Sure, it has those pesky tidbits that most slashers are faced with, but the movie is so watchable and fun that there is no fuss in the fact that the script is very predictable. You can view it and walk away still saying 'how clever.'

The movie not only returns us to the never-ending series of Michael Meyers, but also returns us to the life of Laurie Strode, who, as we found out years ago, is the blood sister of the sadistic killer. Meyers was suspected to be dead in the last entry of the series, "The Curse Of Michael Meyers," but the last frames of the picture suggested otherwise. Now, Laurie has taken on a new life, with a new name, new town, and new friends. She is known where she lives as Keri Tate, a teacher at a highly professional private school. It is Halloween night once again, and after twenty years, Keri is still haunted with the visions of her killer brother, who went on a rampage years earlier right in front of her eyes.

But what Keri thinks soon becomes a question that sticks in our minds for the first few minutes of the picture. Is Michael Meyers really dead? Did he finally get the 'ax' from Dr. Loomis?

But our suspicions of his death are proved false when Meyers shows back up, in town, ready to finish off the sister that barely escaped twenty years ago.

Laurie has changed everything about her life, as usual, after learning years earlier that Meyers did not die that Halloween night. In the final panels of "Halloween II," we witnessed an explosion which should have torched Meyers and the other beings within it alive, but in part four of the series, we were confronted with the realization that Meyers survived, and Laurie had died in a car crash just shortly before the film began, leaving behind a young daughter who appeared to be psychically bonded to her killer uncle.

It is impossible to understand this movie unless you at first realize the whole concept of the story. Laurie was presumed dead from that accident, but seeing her here, with a new name, new life and new friends, ultimately decides that she did not die. Instead, she faked her own death in fear that Meyers would have come looking for her again.

This is the setup that seems to keep in tact with the whole film here. We must pay attention to what goes on between Keri and the people around her; she still fears Michael, after all of that time. There is no evidence that he's alive, but still, she fears.

And it is those fears that prove to be true on Halloween night when her brother shows up in town, in one piece and ready for more mayhem.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Dave? How can you like 'Halloween: H20' when you didn't even like 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' when they are basically similar formula-wise?" Good point, but there is a certain difference from both movies. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" tried too hard to keep the slasher formula alive, displaying overwrought ambition and neglecting attention to detail and convincement, all while maintaining confusing elements within the script. What's different here is that this is a series that has usually managed to keep the precise implications of storyline and direction without overdoing the script to the point where it is confusing. "Halloween: H20" does not overload itself like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" did, and therefore, displays a very enjoyable spawn from the old and fading formula.

The movie works; that's all there is to it. Partially because the story is familiar, partially because the series (to a certain extent) has been somewhat enjoyable over the years, but mainly because of Jamie Lee Curtis. Here is a woman who refused to return to the series unless a decent script came along. She has been missing since part two, and if she has the guts to return now, doesn't that say something?

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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