Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (I’ll call it H20 from this point on for both yours and my sanity) is the most James Bond-y of the Halloween franchise. The Bond series is interesting in part because the entries take on the cultural identity and filmmaking trends of their time. They feel modern during their release and like time capsules upon revisit. No movie feels more 1998 than H20 – the cold open on-screen murder of a known actor (a staggeringly annoying Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the hip young actors fresh to the big screen, the comic relief character played by a rapper, and the alt-metal single (in this case “What’s This Life For” by Creed) commissioned to play over the end credits. While H20 is probably my fifth favorite in series, it’s the one in which I feel the most personally attached. This movie feels like I’m going to my high school reunion.
The continuity of the Halloween franchise is frustrating. H20 was unofficially the final chapter in the Jamie Lee Curtis “Laurie Strode Trilogy” following the original John Carpenter Halloween and its sequel, Halloween II. These films had the arc of Laurie Strode conquering her demon(s). There’s also a multiverse “Laurie Strode Double Bill” with Rob Zombie’s Halloween films. 2009’s Halloween II interestingly takes the opposite approach and makes Laurie’s (played now by Scout Taylor-Compton) journey into a tragic death march she’s fated to complete. In both scenarios, Michael Myers is Laurie’s brother. Weirdly (and I’ll reserve judgment until I see the movie), the upcoming David Gordon Green Halloween is a direct sequel to the original Halloween, stars Jamie Lee Curtis again, but ignores the brother-sister storyline from Halloween II and the events of that first sequel and H20. This is a trend in Hollywood I don’t like (i.e. requels or sidequels), where Hollywood types act embarrassed about films that are perfectly fine (Curtis has called H20 a money gig despite starting with the best intentions) and ask the audience to indulge their do-over. Then again, I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth here, because sometimes those types of films work. An example is, ironically, H20, because it ignores Halloween III, IV, V and VI. I give up.
Jumanji’s Adam Hann-Byrd, dating out of his league) and the perfect woman (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, slumming with Hann-Byrd, which makes her even hotter because she gives us normals a chance). It’s a very likable, hip, predominately young cast in a stalking killer movie from Dimension that re-uses (and/or is inspired by) some music cues from composer Marco Beltrami’s Scream scores. Therefore, H20 is a good “Scream factory” movie.
H20 is a well-oiled machine and an enjoyable revisit. It was very aware of what a mainstream horror audience wanted in a 1998 Dimension horror film as well as checking the boxes for fans of the Halloween franchise. What is H20’s legacy 20 years later? Unfortunately, it's lost in the mix of Halloween sequels when it’s a cut above all but a few of them. 2002’s Halloween Resurrection certainly took the wind out of its sails and reversed the franchise’s momentum back to where it was pre-H20. Then again, that might not be a bad thing, because otherwise we wouldn’t get the fascinating experiments Rob Zombie contributed to this series. If you were a fan of H20 back in ’98, give it another look. I think it held up well. Hopefully fans will revisit it while they get ready for the next Halloween film this October. Requel quibbles aside, I’m rooting for it (Judy Greer!) because if it’s good, the franchise is re-energized and given life again 20 years after 20 Years Later.