Directed by Steve Miner
Produced by Paul Freeman
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lynn O'Keefe, Janet Leigh, Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Imagine if you would that every "Halloween" sequel post Rick Rosenthal's 1981 effort had never existed. Yep, from Tommy Lee Wallace's "Season Of The Witch" (1982) through to Joe Chapelle's much-interfered with "Curse Of Michael Myers" (1995), just postulate for one moment that the slate had been wiped clean and all that nonsense about druids, the Man In Black et al never came into being. Right, now you're ready to delve into the eerie waters that run black within Robert Zappia & Matt Greenberg's reverential script. Had it not been for the unmitigated success of Wes Craven's "Scream" (1996) I doubt that Dimension Films would have afforded us, the fans, such an accomplished sequel. The core elements, a tight script, fine actors, and a real director, go a long way towards dismissing all that has gone before in the post-incendiary fallout of The Shape's baptism of fire at the closure of Part 2. All I have to say in relation to that rumination is thank God for that! I'd almost given up on the big fella…afterall, if you were to believe Kim Henkel, Leatherface is now the progeny of some bizarre extraterrestrial religious cult! Thanks Kim, that made everything clear…
"H20" picks up twenty years after the events that led to Michael Myers being (apparently) incinerated in an explosion at the Haddonfield Hospital. Laurie Strode (Curtis) is now Keri Tate, the head-mistress of Hillcrest Academy in California. Having faked her own death (so as to seek out a new existence), survived therapy, a broken marriage, and twenty years of sleepless nights plagued by nightmares of her brother, she has started afresh, doing the best she can to raise her son John (Hartnett) while battling alcoholism. But the past will not leave her be. Two nights before Halloween, an unseen assailant has broken into the recently deceased Dr. Loomis' home, stolen confidential papers relating to Strode, and murdered his former private nurse (Stephens). Could it be that after twenty years of silence, Michael has returned to sever the bloodline that ends with his sister?
Skipping the Yosemite Park Halloween camping trip, John and girlfriend Molly (Williams), along with friends Charlie (Hann-Byrd) and Sarah (O'Keefe) plan their own celebration in the quiet confines of the campus. Keri finds solace from the holiday in her liquor cabinet, and the company of lecturer Will Brennan (Arkin), while campus security officer Ronny Jones (LL Cool J) casts a cursory eye over the grounds. But what's that? A stray pick-up truck finds its way to the Academy gates. Alone. Idling. Empty. It's not long thereafter before a man clad in overalls, and a very familiar white mask, turns the night into one of mounting terror that all involved will never forget.
Hey, what's up with me if I don't give you at least one review of a "Halloween" film? Although wildly short at a compact 86m, Miner's sequel shows not only that he knows how to construct a good fright flick, but also that he's definitely done his homework. From the pre-credits cameo of Nancy Stephens, encoring as Nurse Marion Wittington, through the initial chill inducing bass chord of John Ottman's outstanding orchestral re-arrangement of Carpenter's hypnotic theme (multi-layered with Donald Pleasance's "Michael Myers" dialogue from the first film) the immediate impression is that we are entering something special. That 'something special' lies in the many evocations of Carpenter's original that Miner invests his sequel with. The widescreen framing is used as a powerful tool in his hands, portions of which are drowned in that inky blackness that Carpenter used so effectively to generate unease in his audience. Red herring moments are brought forth strikingly, though it must be said they are over-used in the early passages of the film. Of course, this works as a double-edged sword in Miner's hands; he's either playing to audience expectations, or cleverly attempting to throw his audience so as to heighten the BIG scares in the final act.
Once again, the ensemble cast is surprisingly strong, enhanced by the coup of a returning Curtis, who has evolved beyond 'scream queen' into a solid actress of some note. This alone elevates "H20" above its predecessors, but she is backed by excellent performances from her young co-stars (a debuting Hartnett and more than adequate Williams) and light 'comedy relief' by rapper LL Cool J. Perhaps the greatest asset of Miner's Kevin "Scream" Williamson penned sequel is its return to the supernatural non-explanation of its central boogeyman. Michael Myers once again becomes 'The Shape', an unstoppable, indestructible killing machine who cannot be quelled by simple raw-force. It was with simple, delightful enlightenment that I realised what Miner and Williamson were aiming for come the film's over-the-top climax. I won't spoil the ending for those that haven't yet seen the film, but let's just say darker forces that throw all the way back to Carpenter's original are at work here. As an added plus, the whole tightly paced exercise is aided and abetted by an outstanding orchestral reworking of key musical themes from the original by John Ottman, as well as some decidedly "Scream"-esque moments by that film's composer Marco Beltrami. From whoa to go, this "Halloween" sequel is a definite cut above ANY of its predecessors.
The disc is the usual Village Roadshow affair, in that it's nothing short of perfect. The feature is letterboxed at 2.35 and anamorphically enhanced, as well as being a pretty stunning transfer of Miner's film. Blacks and shadows are spot on, colours look good, and there's not a single solitary film artefact of any sort on display throughout the entire film. It's a nice, crisp, detailed image that looks bang on the money. Audio is presented in Dolby 2.0 surround and Dolby 5.1, per usual I went the 5.1 route and found myself suitably impressed, especially when that previously mentioned bass chord kicked in. But overall it's a really good digital scare track, with some creepy ambience and dynamic effects.
Extras come down to the basics of a short EPK behind the scenes featurette, some brief Cast & Crew interview snippets with Steve Miner, Jamie Lee Curtis & LL Cool J, as well as the highly effective theatrical trailer. In retrospect, it's highly ironic that the best "Halloween" sequel thus far was delivered by the man that kept the "Friday the 13th" series on track so well in their early stages, and has since turned out one of the best 'monster-movies' of recent years, "Lake Placid" (1999). Even more ironic that it was financed by Dimension Films, whose track record for genre sequels has been less than impressive to say the least. But, unfortunately for those of us who would have loved the series to draw to closure on a high note, the money men haven't been able to leave well enough alone and we'll be seeing "Halloween: The Homecoming" sometime in 2002. Oh well, guess they had to have something to go head to head with New Line's "Jason X", right?
International specifications: PAL format disc; Language options in English Dolby 5.1 & Dolby 2.0 surround only; No subtitle option available for this title
*Also available R1 & R2 with alternate extra features ("Halloween Unmasked" featurette & Creed music video)
Review by Mike Thomason
|Released by Village Roadshow Home Entertainment|
|Classified M (15+) - Region 4 (PAL)|
|Running time - 86m|
|Ratio - Widescreen 2.35 (Anamorphic)|
|Audio - Dolby digital 5.1, Dolby surround 2.0|
|Behind the Scenes featurette, Cast & Crew interviews, Theatrical trailer, Cast & Crew biographies|
© 2001, Icon In Black MediaBack