Halloween H20

on August 05, 1998 by Wade Major
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   Given the success that Miramax's genre division, Dimension, has enjoyed with the "Scream" films, it seems only natural that they should seek to revive the franchise that essentially started it all, John Carpenter's "Halloween." Thankfully, "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" owes as much to the "Scream" series--whose creator Kevin Williamson is credited as co-executive producer--as it does to its own predecessors, a tongue-in-cheek facelift for the '90s that suits the franchise surprisingly well.
   Wisely ignoring the existence of all "Halloween" sequels after "Halloween 2," "Halloween H20" picks up the action exactly 20 years after the original night of horror in 1978 (the 1981 sequel took place on the same night as the original). Still haunted by memories of her psychotic brother Michael Myers, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has assumed the alias Keri Tate and now works as headmistress of a remote private school where her 17-year-old son John (Josh Hartnett) is a student.
   Suffice to say, without giving away too much, that Michael's compulsion to slaughter his family members (and whoever else stands in the way) is renewed by the knowledge of a nephew who is now precisely the same age as Laurie was when he last tried to butcher her.
   Staying true to the conventions of the genre, "Halloween H20" has more than its ample share of well-meaning but clueless adults, disobedient and libidinous teenagers (stripped from hit TV series) and creative executions. In the post-"Scream" era, however, such conventions would verge on self-parody were it not for the wise nods and winks to a variety of other inspirations and films, including "Halloween's" own acknowledged forebear, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."
   The script by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg, of course, is engineered to cater strictly to fans of the genre and, in particular, the "Halloween" films, an aim at which it succeeds admirably over the course of its scant 86 minutes.
   Director Mike Miner, whose own first two films were the second and third installments of the "Halloween"-inspired "Friday the 13th" series, is likewise focused, providing liberal doses of style, suspense and humor guaranteed to give audiences precisely the good, scary time they're expecting.
   Granted, "Halloween H20" doesn't pioneer any brave new directions for the genre as did the original "Halloween" or the more recent "Scream." But even if some of the conventions seem slightly shopworn, the overall effect is still generations ahead of what the series had become in more recent years, a welcome resurrection for which fans will undoubtedly be grateful.    Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams and LL Cool J. Directed by Steve Miner. Written by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg. Produced by Paul Freeman. A Miramax release. Horror. Rated R for terror, violence/gore and language. Running time: 86 min.
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