Release Date(s)1998 (September 23, 2014)
Studio(s)Miramax/Dimension (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A-
Over the course of three movies and 10 years, executive producer Moustapha Akkad had steered the Halloween franchise, crafting an elaborate backstory for Michael Myers involving Laurie Strode’s daughter Jamie, the town of Haddonfield and a druidic cult. So with the 20th anniversary of the original film approaching, the Halloween crew did what anybody would do under the circumstances: jettison that whole convoluted mess and bring back Jamie Lee Curtis.
As it happens, Laurie Strode is alive and reasonably well, running a private school in California under an assumed name and living with her son, John (Josh Hartnett in his film debut). Sure, October 31 still freaks her out a little (OK, a lot) but for the most part, she’s doing OK. That is, until Michael Myers decides to take a road trip out to California and look up his long-lost sister.
As long as you completely forget about Halloweens 4-6 (a challenge some viewers will be only to happy to accept), H20 is an OK follow-up. Whereas most of the sequels were directed by people early in their careers, H20 benefits from a more experienced touch. Steve Miner was a horror veteran from Friday The 13th Parts 2 and 3, House and others and had worked steadily in film and television since the 80s. He knows how to build suspense and gets fine performances out of his cast. This is also the most star-studded Halloween movie with vets like Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adam Arkin, familiar before-they-were-stars faces like Hartnett, Michelle Williams and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and rapping thespian LL Cool J falling somewhere in between.
Even so, H20 is not without problems of its own. It’s never explained why Michael has all of a sudden decided to go after Laurie again or even what made him suspect she wasn’t dead in the first place. This might seem like overthinking a simple premise but considering how much effort he has to go through to track her down, it’s not an unreasonable question. And while the change of venue makes sense, it severely cuts down on the Halloween holiday atmosphere.
The Deluxe Edition disc is an improvement over the Echo Bridge Blu-ray. That disc reformatted the image to 1.78:1. The AB/SF version presents the movie in the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image seems a little flat and not quite as detailed as you might hope but it isn’t bad. The 5.1 audio is a bit more impressive, although nothing too powerful.
The terrific extras kick off with an illuminating commentary by Jamie Lee Curtis and Steve Miner, moderated by Sean Clark. It’s a fun listen, peppered with good info and enlivened by Ms. Curtis’ aversion to seeing scary stuff on screen. The disc also includes an hour-long documentary on the making of the movie featuring new interviews with Curtis, Josh Hartnett, and many, many others. It’s another solid Scream Factory making-of. There is also a selection of scenes presented with John Ottman’s original, ultimately rejected score, a large selection of vintage interviews with most of the cast, behind-the-scenes footage, the original trailer and TV spot, and a still gallery.
H20 coasts a bit on the nostalgic value of seeing Jamie Lee Curtis face-to-face with The Shape again. She’s terrific and it’s a real testament to her iconic strength as an actor that the movie gets as much mileage as it does out of sheer personality. But at the end of the day, there really isn’t anything all that special about H20. It isn’t terrible but it is terribly routine. Michael and Laurie deserved a better reunion.
- Adam Jahnke
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