Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween: H20 (1998)

Ok, yeah yeah yeah, I can take the easy way out and only lambaste this flick for being the wussy whaa whaa teen Horror that it is, but there are some things it does right. This is the first film in the series to have a glossy, professional look. Steve Miner is responsible for a great deal of Horror classics including the fan favorite FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, and he does give H20 a sleek and stylized look and feel. After fans and critics panned the previous installment, it was also a good time to jump-start the series by creating a divergent timeline and re-introducing a stronger, bolder Laurie Strode to a new generation of moviegoers. Even though the film doesn't really kick into gear until about the hour mark, the pacing never lets down, and moves rapidly as Michael closes in on the school. There is a pretty low body count, but there is some degree of suspense knowing The Shape could be lurking down any of the halls. Michael also seems more collected and less impusive than he had become later in the series, which recalls the original portrayal of the character.

The problem is that the film was made under the tyranny of the post-SCREAM 90s Horror industry, where Horror had to have big teen icons, had to be safe for the kiddies, and had to suck in order to rake in that sweet sweet teen dollar. It is a straightforward, formulaic Slasher, but it can't really be faulted for that. The deaths are all very tame, and the entire film feels like a teen-edgy episode of Dawson's Creek complete with music by the post-awesome Creed. Laurie does comes off as being an ultimate badass, but the rest of the characters get the smack downs they deserve for being such boring teen stereotypes.

In the end, H20 isn't a total loss, and it is arguably a better film than the two sequels preceding it. But then.. It paved the path for RESURRECTION..

Rating: 7/10.
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10 comments:

  1. I like H20. To me, it does feel like a good, 20-years-later follow up to the first and second films. What follows it, however, I can't say I like.

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  2. I like it for bringing back Jamie Lee, but most Halloween fans I've talked to, like me, were asking themselves, "Aren't you going to ever mention your daughter that has now been mulched by your brother??? Hmmm? HMMM? HMMMMMMMM?!" They dropped the ball with this in SO many ways. She's got a son now, terrific, but her daughter is dead. She doesn't know this? She doesn't care? The writers are schitzos?? Most of us can't ignore the fact that they took the series to one point, and then dropped it, picked up as if the character of 4-6 was irrelevant and made it totally illogical.

    Agree on the post SCREAM, shit horror movie, genre. In the 80s, the started experimenting with metal and rock music being played in horror, surprisingly, I enjoyed the score for this one and usually don't.

    The movie sucks, it's typical "new horror", but it loved because it's Halloween....again. :) Better than 5 and 6, worse than 1, 2 and 4 and lead to the worst thing since Tom Cruise playing Lestat in a vampire film.

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  3. Im still unsure whether Laurie disowns Jamie hoping that Michael will never find her, or whether everything is literally scrapped and H20 serves as an alternate reality film where the previous installments did not exist, cant remember if its specified in the special features and I just cant bring myself to watch the film with commentary

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  4. I don't have this one on DVD, just VHS, so no clue, either. I am in need of updating some of my collection because a lot of it is outdated VHS.

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  5. Liked H20 a lot too. I have a lot of nostalgia for those Dawson Creek slashers of the late 90s (Scream, Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer) but I can see how a lot of fans would be disappointed by it. Other than the previously mentioned fact that parts 4-6 were ignored, I think this film is an excellent sequel from start to finish.

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  6. With the exception of SCREAM, I generally hate all other late-90s teen Horror flicks. I cant stand IKWYDLS, and I find URBAN LEGEND to be average at best. I always want to like H20 more than I do, but considering the potential and scale, I just wanted something more out of it.

    I dont consider it a bad sequel at all, just not my bag.

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  7. @LJ Well, the filmmakers took the stance that this was a sequel to Halloween 2 and ignored H4-H6, which is understandable. Sure it throws fans into a chronology/continuity jumble, but it's probably a better decision to leave out the whole curse/thorn plot, even if that means cutting out Jamie. As far as I'm concerned, after the whole Halloween 3 thing, they can do whatever they want with the series.

    All in all, I think it's pretty good, despite the formulaic slasher aspect of it. In fact, I think that is part of what makes it work. The first two films are simple slashers and this one is the same--only with the post-90's/Dawson creek attitude you mentioned. I'm in love with the slasher formula, it's what I grew up on, so I'm partial to it. I also appreciate some of the references to Scream, acknowledging the back and forth influence. My favorite one: Laurie tells the kids to drive to the the Becker house, which is referring to Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) from Scream. In Scream, Casey's dad tells her mom to drive to the McKenzie house (which is borrowed from the first Halloween). So it's all self-reflective and circular, which pleases horror nerds like me.

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  8. @ Carl: I agree on the 90s slashers. SCREAM was good and then they got sloppy with that trilogy. I can't stand either of the other two you mentioned, either. 90s horror drove me to Prozac.

    @ B-Movie Becky: If that's the case and they completely ignored 4-6, it makes me dislike the film even more than I did, previously. I can't stand horror series incontinuity. I makes me wanna bash my skull into the wall. I think it's my OCD.

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  9. From early scripts for H20, Jamie was mentioned a few times, which made Laurie more paranoid about Michael returning to get her than the film actually expresses. But Steve Miner and JLC weren't fans of 4-6 and decided to just discard them and just continue it from 2 as if those films never happened. I can understand it but I'm not a big fan of the discontinuity.

    Other than that, it's a decent slasher and sequel. Love the return of Laurie and love the ending. Too bad it got ruined by RESURRECTION. Feels like SCREAM a bit too much at times, but it's an improvement from 5 and 6.

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  10. Come on Carl, the special features alone make up for it. Like the quiz, what color is the sky? Red? Josh Hartnett =)

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