Friday, 1 April 2011

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Year: 1998
Director: Steve Miner
Screenplay: Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg, from a story by Robert Zappia and Kevin Williamson (uncredited), based on characters created by John carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, LL Cool J, Janet Leigh
Running Time: 86 minutes
Genre: Horror, slasher

Summary: In 1978 seventeen year old Laurie Strode (Curtis) narrowly escaped the murderous rampage of her psychopathic brother Michael Myers (Chris Durand).
In 1998, Laurie is now living under the name "Keri Tate" with her seventeen year old son John (Hartnett), and is working as Headmistress of the prestigious Hillcrest Academy High School private boarding school, which her son attends. She is also dating the school's guidance counsellor Will (Arkin). However Laurie is a recovering alcoholic, still haunted by the memory of her experience and suffers from horrible nightmares, especially when Halloween rolls around. Despite most people believeing that Michael Myers is dead, Laurie is convinced that he is still out there somehwere. Angry at his mother's overprotectiveness, John and his girlfriend Molly (Williams) decide to team up with their friends Charlie (Hann-Byrd) and Sarah (O'Keefe) and take advantage of the rest of the school taking a camping trip to Yosemite National Park over the Halloween holiday in order to have the school to themselves. However, it turns out that Laurie's fears are correct. Michael Myers has tracked her down and, on Halloween night, he arrives at Hillcrest Academy to finish what he started.

Opinions: This film is the sixth sequel to the classic horror film Halloween (1978). The film only really ties in to the original Halloween and Halloween II (1981), completely ignoring the other films as if they never happened, which is probably for the best. The film is also very heavily influenced by the hugely successful Scream (1996) and it's first sequel (themselves very heavily influenced by Halloween). Kevin Williamson, who wrote the first two Scream movies, did uncredited rewrites on the script to Halloween H20, and has an executive producer credit, it was also made by the same studio that made Scream, features some of the same music, and even features a brief clip from Scream 2 (1997). They also feature a very similar style as Halloween H20 also mixes scares, jokes and pop culture references, it also includes Michelle Williams who starred in the hugely successful television series Dawson's Creek (1998-2003) which was created by Kevin Williamson. Which all means that the film belongs squarely in the typical style of late 1990s teen horror films.
The film concentrates more on the "stalk" and less on the "slash" than many of the previous installments, which hearkens back to the first film. It means that the viewer spends time with the characters and gets to like them before they get turned into sushi. Directed by Steve Miner, who also directed Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) and Friday the 13 Part III (1982), there is extensive use of a mobile floating camera which constantly gives the impression of the characters being stalked or tracked by the camera itself. The film also recognises that Michael Myers, who is a kind of limited villain, being more like a supernatural version of the Terminator, works much better when he is kept largely off-screen, frequently glimpsed briefly in the background or through open doors. In fact when Laurie Strode first encounters Myers in the film, she has to pause for a few seconds to convince herself that it is not one of her nightmare or hallucinations.
The scares are mostly effective and there are several good shock moments, even if the gore is probably too limited to appeal to the gorehounds.
The acting in the film is good, and the cast are engaging. Janet Leigh (in real life the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis), and who has also had previous experience of knife-weilding maniacs in the film Psycho (1960), appears briefly as a schoolteacher. It also has an appearance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hockey mask wearing teen.
Aside from the original film, this is definitely the best in the series, and is a good slice of entertaining horror, featuring good performances, some decent shocks and plenty of humour.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) faces up to Michael Myers (Chris Durand) in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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