HALLOWEEN H2O: TWENTY YEARS LATER

halloween-h20-poster

In 1998, 20 years after the first film was released, this sequel features the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. The original Survivor Girl is back to face Michael Meyers one “last” time. Written by Robert Zapia Matt Greenberg (reportedly with some uncredited help from Kevin Williamson) and directed by Steve Miner, this film officially retcons the events of Halloween 4-6 (although they could still fit in, if you want them to, but I’ll get to that later), and acts as if only the events of Halloween 1 & 2 still happened before this film.

We learn through dialog that after Halloween 2 (which, remember, took place on Halloween 1978, same night as the first film) Michael Myers’ body was never found. So sometime soon after that, Laurie faked her death through unexplained means, to prevent Michael from ever finding her again. Now living under the assumed name, Keri Tate, she is the headmistress of an exclusive co-ed boarding school in California. However, her seemingly perfect life is partially an act. She has never forgotten the trauma she suffered from Michael’s attacks, and still sometimes has visions of seeing him again. This has caused her to struggle with alcoholism for years, costing her her marriage, and causing tension between her and her teenage son, John (played by Josh Hartnett), who is a student at her school. During a weekend when the majority of the students are home on vacation, Michael once again tracks Laurie/Keri down, stalking her and the remaining students and staff who remained at the school. But this time, she is finally ready to fight back.

Curtis isn’t the only original cast member and character to return for this film. Donald Pleasence was dead, and so his character Dr. Sam Loomis was also dead. But Nancy Stephens played Loomis’ ex-college, Nurse Marion Chambers, last seen in Halloween 2. Still living in Illinois, Michael breaks into her house and steals her and Loomis’ old files on Laurie Strode, thereby finding out about Laurie’s new identity and location (apparently, Dr. Loomis, who also somehow survived the explosion he set, helped Laurie fake her death, although why he would put this information in a file is unclear). And, of course, Michael kills Marion, before leaving to get to California (I guess he mostly walks there? We do see him steal one woman’s car, but what does he do when that car runs out of gas?).

This film also boasts an impressive cast of young actors, several of whom have gone on to having decent careers as adults. In addition to Hartnett as John, Michelle Williams plays his girlfriend Molly, and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe plays their friend and fellow student Sarah, who also stays behind at the school for the weekend, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young neighbor of Marion, who also gets killed by Michael before Michael leaves for California. Rounding out the main adult cast are Adam Arkin as Laurie/Keri’s current boyfriend Will, whom she confides her true identity to early in the film. And LL Cool J played Ronnie, the campus security guard, who is also an aspiring romance novelist. We get several scenes of him reading portions of a novel he’s writing, with steamy love scenes, to his wife over the phone.

As I said, the film officially ignores the other sequels since the Part 2, but they leave many of the details ambiguous enough that, as a fan, you can mentally fit them in if you want to (although only part 4 is really worthy, in my opinion). Laurie/Keri just tells Will that she faked her death years ago, after Michael tried to kill her. Well, in Part 4 it is said that Laurie and her unnamed husband were killed in a car accident 6 months before that film. It’s possible that her husband really did die and so she decided to use that incident to fake her death too. Apparently early drafts of the film, intended to be called Halloween 7: The Return of Laurie Strode, did mean to include the events of the previous 3 films in its continuity. And so it still kind of works.

The only kink in that whole explanation is the existence of Jamie Lloyd. If Laurie went into hiding because she was worried about Michael coming after, wouldn’t she take her daughter with her? She would have had to have realized that if Michael was still out there somewhere, then Jamie would be a potential target, especially still living in Haddonfield, with her relation to Laurie and Michael being common knowledge. So that doesn’t quite work. Although that could be chalked up the alcoholism that Laurie went through. She may not have been in her right mind when she first went into hiding, just believing her daughter would be better off without her. And by the time she sobered up Jamie had already been attacked by Michael, then was institutionalized herself, and then disappeared. That would have just driven Laurie even more into despair, and would also explain why she was over protective now of her son, John. So, see? It fits!

But I digress.

I suppose that the middle part of the film is rather standard, as far as slashers go. Michael manages to get inside the school’s gates, and cut all the power, trapping everyone in, and then stalking them in the dark. He gets in a few good kills. And in the chaos Will shoots and almost kills Ronnie, thinking that was Michael, who then sneaks up behind Will and kills him. Finally, Laurie/Keri gets the gates up, and sends John and Molly out to run to safety, but she refuses to leave, and grabs and axe and goes back onto the campus to seek out Michael herself. This leads to a deadly cat and mouse game which ends with Laurie stabbing Michael, seemingly killing him. The police and medics arrive. But as Michael is loaded into a body bag and put in the back of an ambulance, Laurie commandeers the ambulance at gunpoint, and drives off in it, suspecting it’s not really over.

Sure enough, Michael starts moving, and claws his way out of the body bag, Laurie crashes the ambulance, sending it tumbling down a hill. Laurie gets out unharmed, but Michael’s body has been thrown from the ambulance and is trapped under some wreckage. He reaches out to Laurie when she calls his name, but then she swings and axe and chops his head clean off in one strike. We see the head, with the mask still on it, falling down the hill, and then close up on Laurie as she exhales with a satisfied look on her face. It’s over. THE END

This was the PERFECT ending to the original Halloween saga. If you watch Halloween 1, 2, and H20 in a row, it stands as a complete trilogy, while allowing for the inclusion of the middle sequels, if you so choose. Thematically, it was good to see Laurie Strode get the final shot and end the evil of Michael Meyers once and for all. And that’s what this should have been. The end of the original Halloween franchise. After this, if the studio wanted to make future movies, they should have started over with a reboot.

GRADE:

A

Available on Amazon

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