Michael Myers is back (yawn), and, oooh, aren’t we scared. This seventh entry into the Halloween series has eschewed its traditional numeral in favor of the more cryptic H20 (it’s been 20 years since the original Halloween…get it?) However, don’t let the moniker change fool you, Halloween H20 is every bit as moldy and dull as the seventh film in a series is likely to be.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Michael Myers is the bogeyman personified. As a child, he killed his older sister with a big knife on Halloween. Fifteen years later, he escaped from his mental institution, donned a bleached out William Shatner mask and resumed his mass murdering streak. His target of choice was babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who had unknown ties to Michael.
Twenty years after that rampage (and a little additional mayhem from Halloween 2), Laurie Strode has gone into hiding. She is now known as Keri Tate, a teacher at a private school in Northern California. She has tried to put her trauma behind her, even raising a son, John (Josh Hartnett), and striking up a relationship with fellow teacher Will Brennan (Adam Arkin). But every year on October 31st, she gets chills.
Little does she suspect that Michael is still hunting her after all these years. Where has Michael been, and what has he been doing over all this time? Who knows? The film blatantly forgets the events of the past four sequels, but never accounts for Michael’s doings over that time. The film just doesn’t bother with trivialities like that. Simply take discomfort from the knowledge that he’s back in the saddle again, twenty years later.
The film makes a big hoopla over the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, but it still provides several teen victims. Along with John, there’s his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams), his best friend Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrd), and Charlie’s main squeeze Sarah (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). Good luck in finding anything out about these characters. The most complex of them has a character description of “generic teen victim”. It’s even a chore to discover their names (which were probably tacked on as a mere afterthought).
Halloween H20 suffers from an overly prolonged setup. Aside from a brief pre-credits teaser, nothing at all happens for the first hour of the film. With an 85-minute running time, that’s saying quite a lot. As a placeholder, the film packs in the false alarms. They occur with such frequency that they quickly lose their shock value. Maybe the first five are even slightly heart-quickening but when the number reaches ten, and twenty, and beyond, you’re more likely to be checking your watch.
And throughout all this, very little is actually accomplished. The setup is simple: an isolated group of people are stalked by a killer. Countless of other horror films (even countless other Halloween sequels) have used the same premise, but established it with much more efficiency. When the final conflict occurs, it’s a mere flash in the pan, bright, quick and substanceless.
The entire experience of Halloween H20 leaves you feeling cheated. However, anyone going into the seventh entry of a horror series shouldn’t expect much. Don’t be deceived.