Steve Miner’s Halloween H20 seems like it was destined to generate mixed feelings. For starters, the man who played Dr. Loomis, Donald Pleasence had died, so he obviously wouldn’t appear in the movie. Fortunately, they didn’t cast someone else to play him, aside from a brief voice impersonation by Tom Kane, and they did not egregiously try to resurrect him through CG animation. These were wise decisions.
However, what might disappoint some fans is that Halloween H20 does abandon the whole “Thorn Trilogy” story arc. Some had been invested in that storyline, and it appeared to be casually tossed away, or sidestepped, if not nuked from orbit. While not everyone appreciates Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, some did and wanted a follow-up, or they were just thrown off by the abandonment of that story.
Then again, there are always some who wish the story had evolved with Michael Myers’ niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), as the new killer, or maybe as a strange protégé (admittedly, either story idea might have ended up terrible, but the potential was there). On the bright side, Halloween H20 did make a few bold ideas come to life, and we’ll look at those first.
Halloween H20: Strengths?
When looking at horror films, one of the go-to topics will be “the kills.” Halloween H20 actually has a few decent ones. It also pays to remember that, for the most part, the original Halloween featured what might be considered “meat and potato” type kills. It’s mostly just him swiping at people with knives or, in the case of Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes), a combination of choking and slicing. Steve Miner’s film is not the goriest in the Halloween franchise, but the death of the character Sarah Wainthrope (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) is particularly memorable (or painful to watch).
As another possible strength, this film doesn’t abandon the premise that Michael (Chris Durand) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) are brother and sister — unlike 2018’s Halloween (which sidesteps that, as well as scrapping both the “Thorn Trilogy” story and practically all unique elements from this film, aside from the “Laurie’s revenge” motif).
Personally, I never had a problem with them being related, as I think it adds some depth to the characters. Sure, it humanizes Michael a bit, but less so than similar examples, such as the relationship between Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) and his brother, Brian (Christian Camargo), on the series Dexter. It complicates their dynamic rather than subtracting from it.
I also like how Laurie has largely moved on from the traumatic events of Halloween 1 & 2. In fact, she even has a boyfriend (Adam Arkin), even though they seem awkward and timid with each other. She has moved away from the Myers’ house and is the headmistress at a boarding school. Also, when Michael arrives and the shit predictably hits the fan, there’s never an expectation that she’d attempt to alert Dr. Loomis, even if he was alive. At the same time, this perhaps helps shatter the illusion that Michael could easily kill them all.
Halloween H20: Weaknesses?
Yes, I feel I need to discuss this film’s weaknesses a bit, too, and one of the weaknesses is actually Laurie’s strength. Yes, I know, you might be saying “That’s sexist!” but hear me out. Back when Myers was in his house in Haddonfield, he had what might be called “home-field advantage.” He was basically in his element, where he would stay for a time. Take him out of that and what do you have? Well, it’s a bit like taking Freddy out of Elm Street. Sure, you could do it and maybe it can work, but that certainly doesn’t mean it will work as well.
Add that to the growing perception that Laurie is ready, willing, and able to kick Michael’s ass and a lot of the tension is gone. Now, honestly, I was never that afraid of Michael Myers or most slasher villains, so to lose the fear factor, even more, doesn’t really do this movie favors.
Yes, we might look at the example of someone like Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who ended up kicking some alien ass in “Aliens.” However, that was in outer space and more obviously an action movie. While I’m glad they didn’t put Michael in space (as they did with Jason, the Leprechaun, and even Pinhead!), I’m not sure they put him in a compelling place in Halloween H20. It seems like the boarding school environment didn’t add much and, frankly, the matchup between Michael and Laurie also seems to end a little too quickly.
The Big Critique
Plenty of horror movies fail to fully explore their dynamics. Others perhaps benefit from not doing so. At the end of the day, it can be hard to walk that fine line between revealing too little or too much. I can imagine writing Michael Myers is tricky for that reason. In contrast, in some characters, you fully expect them to get cheesier and to have more quirky details revealed. For example, one might expect Chucky (Brad Dourif) to delve deeper into the whole voodoo doll thing, especially when the character actually is a frickin’ doll. Similarly, everyone would expect The Evil Dead franchise to summon some crazy demons.
However, just like you wouldn’t expect a whoopie cushion scene in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, you probably don’t want Michael to become less mysterious, less threatening than in previous films. In this case, Michael Myers doesn’t really come across as supernatural, or like an evil, mysterious force. He’s a bit more like just some random guy in a Halloween mask. He might still be dangerous, but he doesn’t seem as much like Michael Myers.
I have heard others make this critique, and I’m not trying to rip them off here. It’s just something I definitely agree with. I would contrast it with “Part 4,” in fact. Yes, that movie has some detectable flaws, too, but when Michael Myers falls into a mineshaft, it somehow still feels like it’s him. In fact, to prove I’m not screwing around here and playing favorites with this critique, I’d even say the Michael Myers from the much-hated Halloween: Resurrection is more like the old school Michael than the one from Halloween H20.
On the surface, it probably seems like I hate this movie, or like this is a hit piece. I actually don’t hate it, but just think it should’ve been beefed up a bit more, and some things could’ve been better. Yes, Michael’s abandoned house remains freakier than the boarding school environment, and the film lacks the flair of Dr. Loomis (for obvious reasons). Still, this movie ends on a respectable note with a bold decision regarding the main villain’s fate. That alone might be respectable, in some way. And, holy shit, I need to stop typing now…
What are your thoughts on Halloween Water…oops, I mean Halloween H20?! Let us know in the comments! (Just don’t pin us to a tree with a vehicle and lop off our heads over this article)