Sunday, October 26, 2014

In short: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

So, it seems that in this part of the Halloween franchise, films number one and two did happen (Michael-less number three always will have happened, fortunately), but the original final girl Laurie Strode (still Jamie Lee Curtis) later faked her death in a car accident that doesn’t seem to be the same one that left Jamie Strode an orphan in film four and onwards, or else we’d have to believe Laurie to be able to leave her little daughter behind in Haddonfield, and that doesn’t at all jibe with the over-protective mother we see here.

She’s now living under the name of Keri Tate as the headmaster of a secluded private school in California with her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett). John is increasingly bothered by his mother’s functional alcoholism, the pills and the effects her PTSD has on her behaviour and her ideas of the proper way to treat a seventeen year old, but when Michael finds out she’s still alive, the brittle woman might be all that stands between him and a knife. And Laurie might just rise to the occasion again.

Ironically, despite it – thanks to Scream and the following interest in up-market slasher movies by companies like Miramax - being higher budgeted as well as classier than the Halloween sequels I’ve talked about during the last few days, Steve Miner’s H20 is also the least interesting of the films for me, with little going on in it you couldn’t imagine after having read the film’s basic set-up, with no surprises and no obvious signs of any actual creativity.

I do approve of the PTSD angle to Laurie’s future development but there’s nothing at all happening on screen that wouldn’t also have happened to a happier and luckier woman, and too little effort put into giving the characters more than the pretence of emotional depth, so the film can turn its nose up at the exploitation movies director Miner himself started out with without having to put the actual effort needed to actually be deeper than them. Which isn’t just a problem with H20 but with most of the films of the mainstream slasher wave it belongs to, films that replaced the honest greed and nastiness of exploitation with hypocrisy and various degrees of smarmy superiority usually not justified by their actual achievements.

When it comes to the stalking and the slashing, H20 is suffering from the curse of basic competence – it’s not good enough to actually hold you in suspense, or to scare you, or to make you think or feel, and it’s not bad enough to either annoy you, or to win your heart, or to even make you laugh (and I’m sure as hell not going to laugh about the lame comedy bits with LL Cool J). There’s just not enough of anything here for any strong reaction.

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