Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

08/16/2019 06:38

Film: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Year: 1998

Director: Steve Miner

Writer: Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett and Adam Arkin



This is a film that I know I saw pretty close to when it was released on video, just not sure when exactly. I know I didn’t see it in the theaters. My sister did have the VHS, so that is where I’m assuming I saw it. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this series back then, with having seen 4 and 5 more than any other films in it. I will admit, I did enjoy this one and the last time I remember seeing it was in college. The synopsis is Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), now the head mistress of a Northern California private school with an assumed name, must battle the Shape (Chris Durand) one last time, as the life of her son hangs in the balance.

We actually start this in Illinois. It’s a suburban neighborhood where Marion Chambers-Whittington (Nancy Stephens) is returning home from work. She used to take care of Dr. Sam Loomis before he passed away and I’m actually thinking this nurse might be the one that went up to the hospital with him on the night of the events in the first film. She finds that her house has been broken into. She goes next door to two high school kids, Jimmy Howell (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Tony Alegre (Branden Williams). They call the cops and Jimmy ends up going inside to look around. Dr. Loomis’ office has been ransacked and he does the same to the kitchen. He doesn’t find anyone though. She goes inside, but is spooked. This causes her to go next door to find both boys are dead and she is killed as the police arrive.

Behind the credits we’re given the back-story. Laurie survived the events of Halloween and its sequel. Michael Myers is her brother and she’s had trouble coping over all of these years. She has a nightmare as it is Halloween day. Her son, John (Josh Harnett), comes in to wake her up. Dealing with his mother has put a lot of strain on him and we learn that his father left because he could no longer deal with her. She won’t let John go on the school field trip, because they leave on Halloween. This upsets him quite a bit.

He goes to the school she is in charge of. Laurie is seeing the guidance counselor there, Will Brennan (Adam Arkin). He notices that she’s on edge and he knows that she has a past. He doesn’t know the truth though. John is seeing Molly Cartwell (Michelle Williams), who won’t be going on the school trip either. Her father did something and the financial aid didn’t come through. They are friends with another couple, Charlie Deveraux (Adam Hann-Byrd) and Sarah Wainthrope (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). She doesn’t want to go Yosemite, where the trip is going, as she went with her family and didn’t have fun. It is decided as a group they’ll skip, as Charlie doesn’t turn in an assignment so he can’t now either.

Michael steals a vehicle and makes his way across the country, arriving on Halloween. Only Laurie is worried about him, but he does make it on campus and much like 20 years ago, he starts to pick off victims.

As I’ve kind of already alluded to, I remember seeing this and enjoying it back in the day. The Halloween series really does have one of the most jumbled up storylines. This does follow the timeline that Michael and Laurie are siblings, but it ignores all of the sequels after that. I don’t mind taking this route, even though I’m not the biggest fan of them being related. I think it is scarier when he is just focusing on her for no apparent reason. I won’t harm too much on that though.

I do really like the character we get of Laurie in this film. She has been so traumatized from that fateful night that she’s been living in fear. It works though, because the body was never found after the fire that supposedly killed him. It is interesting that he is wearing the same outfit though, as it should’ve been burned up. We don’t get the scene of him collecting a new one not that we really needs it. Back to Laurie though, she is dealing with what happened to her with booze and alcohol, which is does make a lot of sense. It is really said to see how it has controlled her life. She does have a good career; she was married and has a good son in John. It has made her overbearing though and effects relationships around her.

This film also is a big love letter to the original as well. It is fitting to see that Kevin Williamson was a part of this, as it does kind of feel like Scream. It doesn’t go overboard in the meta aspects, but we definitely get some mirroring things happening in here. I would say the whole set-up of Michael escaping, making his way to where he is going and then the events of the event. On top of that though, Norma Watson (Janet Leigh) says ‘Everyone is entitled to one good scare’, just like Sheriff Brackett. I think this is a good touch, but maybe a bit heavy handed.

I would say that the editing of this film is good, as it does build tension and I was never bored. We get a few deaths to kick us off, before we really get the introduction to Laurie and her new life. I’ve touched on that I like the mirroring that we get. I do think that this film is hurt a bit by most of the deaths being done off screen. I do like how it ends though, which would have been great if this line ended here.

I should probably move to effects next, which I think they fine actually. We get practical effects here, as I don’t really recall any CGI. The blood looks good and the after effects of the deaths are as well. The problem is that pretty much every death we get is off-screen. It is rated R, I just don’t know if they wanted to go practical and couldn’t make it look real to actually execute or not. Also this is the worst mask in the series. Being able to see the eyes like we can is a misstep. The film though is shot well so I will give it credit there.

To get back to the positives for the film, the acting is pretty strong. Curtis I think does a great job in portraying this broken character. I can feel the trauma that is still affecting her. It is actually kind of sad that she is ruining the lives around her, because she never got over what happened to her. Arkin I thought was solid as a rock who is trying to help her. We get a young Williams, who I adore as an actress, she has does some great work after this film. She is still solid here. Hartnett is also solid in his first role as well. Durand is fine as the Shape as he can do some physical things for the role. It is fun to see cameos by O’Keefe who was big in this era, Leigh, LL Cool J, a young Gordon-Levitt and Beau Williams. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I like that they bring back the classic theme, as well as remixing it if I was listening correctly. There are songs that are brought back from the original, which is a good touch. I think that overall, this is used in a way to help build tension. It really does work for what is needed overall. Not the best in the series, it does lose a bit of that Carpenter touch, but not enough to ruin it.

Now with that said, I do think this film does come with some issues, but it’s still solid. It could have been an interesting follow-up and conclusion to Halloween and its first sequel. I like where they took the Laurie character and how broken she was. It does pay homage to the original film in kind of a meta way. It is edited in a way as well where it does build tension and as I said, has a good conclusion. The acting overall is really solid and the practical effects are as well. The issue that I have is the deaths being off-screen. The aftermaths look good though. The soundtrack fits for what is needed as well. This film does pose the worst mask in the series and there are some plot-holes. Overall though I would still say this film is above average and worth a watch if you haven’t seen it in some time.


My Rating: 6.5 out of 10