“I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding, even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes … the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply … evil.”
Blumhouse and David Gordon Green recently finished a sequel/reboot of John Carpenter’s Halloween with mixed results. He got Jamie Lee Curtis to return for all three films in the trilogy. Most of the various sequels and reboots did not include the original film’s star, but Green was not the first one to get her to return to the role of Laurie Strode. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first film, Curtis returned to the role in the somewhat neglected. It was the seventh overall film in the franchise, and like the recent trilogy, it erased all of the various sequels and claimed to be a continuation of the original film. It produced a respectable $55 million on a $17 million budget and was the next final film in the series before Rob Zombie did his own reboot of the franchise that lasted for two films and finally led up to the David Gordon Green attempt to revisit and pretty much conclude the franchise with three more films. Curtis returned for Halloween Resurrections, which was a kind of meta/reality show take on the material, but Rob Zombie took it back to the beginning. Is that really the end of Michael Myers and company? I doubt it. There’s still bank to be made from the franchise, and after a respectable few years, someone else will tackle the tale. Where they will start from is anyone’s guess, but they could do worse than look at Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later as a jumping-off point. I doubt anything like that is going to happen, but the franchise could certainly do worse,… and it has.
We meet Keri Tate (Curtis), who is the head of a private school academy. We aren’t fooled at all. We know it’s Laurie Strode, but we’re willing to stay quiet and see how all of this is going to play out. It’s 20 years later (in case the title didn’t give that part away). Laurie has a son, John, played by Josh Hartnett in his very first feature film role. He’s also a student at the school. He likely gets an employee discount at a school that looks like it caters to rich families. She’s also dating another member of the faculty, Will, played by Adam Arkin. He, of course, doesn’t know anything about her true identity and past, so he’s not quite in the know as to why she appears so jumpy, particularly on Halloween. It’s obvious that she’s been overprotective of her son and doesn’t want him to go on the annual school camping trip. She finally relents, but it turns out John doesn’t really want to go. He’d rather sneak off and have some quality time with his girl, Molly, played by Michelle Williams, and who could blame him. He doesn’t understand why mom’s such a flake, either. But we, the audience, have already been clued in that Michael is stalking again. He’s already killed a woman associated with good ol’ Doctor Loomis, and he’s on his way to Keri’s … Laurie’s “safe” haven far away in California. He’s been doing some California dreaming of his own and is headed for that family reunion with sis. No one’s safe, and just when Keri/Laurie has been convinced to let down her guard just a little bit, wouldn’t you know that Michael’s coming to town.
It’s another Halloween night, and the “shape” in the William Shatner mask is up to his usual shenanigans. We get the usual chases, this time through the school where a young LL Cool J is the security guard who is more interested in running his porn story creations by his girl on the phone than watching out for supernatural killers with a 20-year grudge hanging over their shoulders. He’s the comic relief, and a long way from Agent Hanna at this point.
The film doesn’t really separate itself from the various other sequels except for the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and the motivation of Kevin Williamson of Scream fame to try to breathe new life into the franchise. The beats are pretty much the same, and I have to be honest, Jamie Lee Curtis has done better work. Her heart wasn’t in this thing, I’m sure. She’s much more dynamic and convincing in the recent trilogy than she is at any point here. As much as it pains me, I don’t see this film as anything more than a paycheck for the actress. Even more so the next film in the franchise. She looks tired of Laurie even 20 years later, and you won’t see that rejuvenation until the recent films. I’m not a huge David Gordon Green fan, particularly after what he did to The Exorcist, but I will admit he brought fire back into the Laurie Strode character and Jamie Lee Curtis; that’s just not evident here at all.
The only real gem I found here is the inclusion of Janet Leigh as the school’s secretary and mother hen. Of course, Leigh was in one of the most compelling horror films of them all when she becomes the famous shower-scene victim in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. There are plenty of Psycho references here, from a mention of a clogged shower to the character standing next to the same make of car she drove in that classic film. Of course, there’s an even better reason why her role is so sweet here. She’s Jamie Lee Curtis’s mom, and the mothering here is a wonderful bit of nostalgia for film fans. I wish it were enough to elevate the film into something better. It’s our consolation prize for checking it all out. But now it’s out just in time for Halloween in 4K/UHD Blu-ray.
Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later is presented in a slightly altered original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The ultra-high-definition image presentation is arrived at with an HEVC codec at an average of 70 mbps. The film was shot on 35mm, so is native 4K. The aspect ratio is at least closer than it was on the earlier Blu-ray release, which saw it made into a 1.85:1 disaster. The film hasn’t been shown a lot of love over the years, but this is as close as it has gotten, at least in my memory. The grain returns from a DNR’d mess, and so the film at once is more organic than it’s been since its theatrical release. The film is set mostly at night, so the HDR has improved the shadow definition greatly, and that adds to the atmosphere of it all instantly. I can’t say detail is particularly nice, but enough to bring out more of the subtle nature of the film’s original intent. Colors are muted here, but that was the intent all along.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio presentation doesn’t appear much different from the earlier Blu-ray release, and that’s a slight disappointment, but it’s serviceable with strong dialog presence and some rather nice musical cues, most notably the opening Mister Sandman which, unfortunately gave me flashbacks to Back To The Future, not this film. Sorry, guys.
There are no extras.
I was lucky enough to be a teen during the original release of Halloween, Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street. I got to be the target audience when these experiences were fresh. I wish that audiences today had the opportunity to see these films for the first time on a big screen on date night with no earlier versions to jade us so much. I treasure that experience, but it’s gone for me as well. Every time I see a new attempt, I hope it will take me back to those late 1970’s Friday nights, but it’s true. You can’t go back. But, just maybe …“Because today is the day. I can feel it. “