Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is one of the world’s clumsiest titles, not least because the movie has nothing to do with water so it’s not even a pun. This 20th anniversequel does a Terminator Genisys and disregards all but the first two Halloween flicks, only to be disregarded itself by Halloween 20 years later. These films aren’t sequels so much as canon fodder. See, that’s a pun.
In 1978 Michael Myers tried to kill his sister Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis); 20 years later (oh I get it now) she’s a headteacher at a boarding school (a precursor to her role on Scream Queens) and mother to a pupil with distractingly bad hair (Josh Hartnett). Before you can say “What ever happened to Josh Hartnett anyway?” Michael is back in Haddonfield and going to town on the townies – a Weird Cast if ever there was one, featuring as it does Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Janet Leigh and LL Cool J. Together at last!
Slasher movies didn’t last long after the epochal success of Scream, and you can see why. This 1998 effort (featuring uncredited rewrites by Scream scribe Kevin Williamson) makes no secret of ripping off Scream 2, which the characters watch in one scene; another copies its use of a classroom discussion to provide meta-commentary on the movie. But the execution is anticlimactic (literally, in the case of the ending), and the line “If you want to stay handcuffed to your dead brother that’s fine but you’re not dragging me along” is ruined by being a metaphor.
Steve Miner’s (Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3) direction is more competent than the erased sequels, even with Michael’s mask changing between shots. Its greatest strength is the return of Curtis as Laurie, who’s fantastic to watch but consistently undermined by the rest of the film – for instance the fact there’s a music cue every time someone says “Halloween” (as happens a lot). The use of an orchestral version of the Halloween theme also seems to miss the point of John Carpenter’s trademark synthesiser. But for all the fan-based tables-turned fun of seeing Laurie jumping out at Michael, the film shares its biggest problem with the killer’s ill-fitting boilersuit: an overall lack of suspense.