REVIEW – ‘Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later’

Thanks mostly to its lead, this entry in the 'Halloween' franchise is mostly successful.

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: August 5, 1998
DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Daryn Okada
WRITERS: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg
MUSIC: John Ottman, Marco Beltrami

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis knew that the 20th anniversary of “Halloween” was coming up when she approached Moustapha Akkad about returning to the series. Curtis saw it as an opportunity to give something back to the fans that had helped kick start her career. Originally, she wanted director John Carpenter to return to the series, but the director had an unusually high demand for his salary and ultimately backed away from the project.

In the film, there is a plot device to explain that Laurie Strode had actually faked her death after the events of “Halloween II”. This element was initially added to explain how she got away during the past three entries and the original title for the movie was “Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode”. However, this became too complicated to explain, so the filmmakers opted to ignore the previous three entries and make the film a direct sequel to “Halloween II”.

This ultimately proves to be a good thing as it does away with the convoluted storyline that was developed in the fifth and sixth entries. It simplifies things to say that Michael’s body was never recovered and that Dr. Loomis had helped Laurie escape to a new life outside of Haddonfield. Due to Donald Pleasence’s death, there is a tribute to him in the opening credits of the film.

The movie then takes place mostly at Hillcrest Academy where Laurie is now serving as the headmistress and goes by the name Keri Tate. She is still haunted by her past and overly protective of her son John Tate (Josh Hartnett). Laurie is still trying to cope with the events of her early life and does not think that Michael is truly gone, seeing that they couldn’t find the body after the fire at the hospital.

Sure enough, Michael discovers that his sister is still alive and he tracks her down to the school itself. Now, it is time for Laurie to deal with the demons of her past once and for all. This is actually the sequel to “Halloween II” that I ultimately prefer as it closes out a trilogy of films revolving around Laurie Strode.

Curtis, who has always been a terrific actress, turns Laurie into a badass that is more than enough to stand up to the brother that has terrified her for years. It was great at the time to see her return and the series definitely benefitted from her appearance. The other performers do a good job as well.

While we already know Laurie, we get to know more about her son John and his friends, all of whom will come to know Michael soon enough. While the movie does its own thing to finish the story between Laurie and Michael, I must also admit that it takes after horror films of its time including “Scream”, a film that paid its homage to the original film. In fact, that film’s screenwriter Kevin Williamson did the original draft of the script for “H20”.

Thanks to the movie’s solid attempt to complete the story of Laurie Strode, I can definitely recommend this sequel that ends up being superior to the past three entries. Yes, there was one more entry after this one before Rob Zombie rebooted the series. However, I’ll just go ahead and say that I ignore “Resurrection” and consider this to be the true ending to the original film series.

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