PUBLISHED IN THE LONG ISLAND VOICE AUGUST 06-12, 1998
In Halloween: H20 there's no water under the bridge as far as Michael Myers is concerned.
Twenty years have gone by since he first attacked Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and now the seemingly indestructible Energizer Bunny of serial killers -- he keeps going and going and going -- wants to gruesomely celebrate the anniversary by finishing the job.
Meanwhile, Strode herself is living a new life under a new identity: Kerrie Tate. Now divorced, she's the headmistress of a private school in Summer Glen, California that's attended by her 17-year-old son John (Josh Harnett). She's also a functioning alcholic, still haunted by chilling nightmares of those knife-wielding attacks. Because it's All Hallow's Eve., she has an extra case of the spooks.
Unbeknownst to her, Myers has broken into the Indiana home of Marion, the former assistant (Nancy Stephens) to his late shrink Dr. Loomis (the Donald Pleasance character) and stolen Laurie's files. He knows who she is....and more importantly, where she is.
So the scene is set for the ultimate showdown between the hunter and his would-be victim, but Halloween: H20 falls short of delivering the scares of the original Halloween and its gory sequel.
The biggest jolts come from John Ottman's score -- an embellishment of John Carpenter's original music -- as a sudden flash of organ accents an accidental bump.
One wishes director Steve Miner (Friday The 13th, Parts II and III) would have taken a few cues from fellow overseer Carpenter's technique.
A strong reason for the first two Halloweens' successes was Carpenter's sense of drama played out from the killer's vantage point. Halloween H20 not only lacks this sort of imagination, but Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg's script -- based on a seven-page treatment by Scream's Kevin Williamson -- is fairly pedestrian.
In the end, it's Jamie Lee Curtis' Strode that carries the film. Once an overzealous nightmare scene is over, her turn as a scarred, paranoid, overprotective mother is quite convincing. Curtis' portrayal as a woman pushed to reclaim her life at all costs also adds fuel to the fire, her desperation adding credibility to the film's predictable -- and quickly executed -- climax.
Another problem is Miner compensating his conservative body count for a liberal dose of stereotypes, reflected mainly in his supporting cast.
Adam Arkin (Chicago Hope ) is the patient school counsellor secretly carrying on with Strode. He offers a supportive ear and open arms, so his loving nature naturally qualifies him as filleting material for Myers later in the film, an overacted death that the Grim Reaper himself would protest to the Screen Actor's Guild.
There's the overdone "punishment-for-teenage-sex" premise, as John, his girlfriend Molly ( Dawson Creek's Michelle Williams), his buddy Charlie ( Little Man Tate's grown up Adam-Hann Byrd) and gal Sarah ( Nash Bridges' Jodi Lyn O' Keefe ) all suffer from Myers' wrath in one form or another.
And there's the ineffectual security guard Ronnie (L.L. Cool J (In The House ), who accidentally lets Myers slip through the gates of the private school.
One bit of inspired casting is Curtis' real life Mom Janet Leigh as Norma, her secretary. Norma's line about "not trying to appear maternal" is good for a few yuks.
Third Rock From The Sun's Joseph Gordon-Levitt also makes a brief appearance, and as you can tell the cast of television actors gives Halloween H20 the feel of a Movie-Of-The-Week.
Or in this case, a movie of the weak. Halloween H20 isn't much of a treat.
Besides, Mike Myers was much, much better in So I Married An Axe Murderer and Austin Powers.
THANKS: Beth Rimmels
© 1998, 1999 Nick Krewen
About Octopus Media Ink