Guest Post by Rhiannon (who doesn’t give star ratings so ?? out of ?? – anarchy)
Mr Sandman, bring me a dream! Ba-da-dum-dum. Make me a horror movie, best I’ll ever see! Ba-da-dum-dum.
Friends, gather round for a tale as old as time – the slasher film franchise reboot. It happened a lot during the late 90s and 00s. Freddy. Jason. They all came back for another season of scary a.f. good times! (Wait. Didn’t they go to space once? I obviously use the word ‘good’ very loosely.) Today’s reboot of choice is the 1998 production Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, directed by Steve Miner (notable works including the second and third Friday the 13th films of the early 80s). Say a warm welcome home to old mate Michael Myers and his William Shatner mask (the real MVP tbh) for the seventh instalment of Why Can’t Anybody Check A Pulse Properly?
We open in Illinois. Good. Spooky broken lamp. Alright. Baby Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Makes me a feel a bit weird as a twenty-six-year-old, but go on. The premise is that Mikey is back. We know this because the file on Laurie has been stolen from the house of Loomis’ colleague. If you don’t know who Laurie and Loomis are, literally stop reading this and go brush up on your Halloween basics. It’s gonna get all clusterfucky from here on out. The second reason we know Mikey is back is because OH MY GOD! JIMMY! I mean… I was already going to avoid the many Winter Wonderlands popping up around Adelaide, but now… I’ll never look at an ice skate the same! And finally, we know because everyone is dead! Cue some cocky cops talking shit. Cue screaming Jamie Lee Curtis. Cue the return of my crush on Josh Hartnett. Um. Please don’t kill him? Aaaaaaaannnndddddd it’s the morning of October 31st. Here we go!
The plot is simple. Mikey is evil and superhumanly intelligent and isn’t great at staying dead. He hunts down his Much Trauma Many Feels Wow baby sister, despite the fact that she faked her own death ages ago and is now a Mom to a Real Teenage Boy named John and is the principal of a private boarding school. How that’s not worse than seeing all ya friends stabbed to death, honestly… choices. Uh, then there’s some boring adult straight people romance and some boring teenage straight people romance. Some low-key alcoholism used as a coping strategy. Ummmm… Laurie explains some Tragic Backstory Information but I tuned out at that point. I think some people died horrifically. A showdown. Unresolved sibling rivalry. Idk. Yadda, yadda. The usual!
But… is it good? Was it worth celebrating the original genius with this reboot twenty years later?
Let’s start with the
The characters are all basic a.f. The teenagers are soulless; like, more than teenagers usually are. Minor characters are jarring when in scene. And, even the familiar Laurie is… off somehow. Despite her new identity and Californian life, she’s still living in Trauma City because of the 1978 massacre and subsequent events. Like, fair. I’m still living in Trauma City because of that one time I said, “you too,” when the girl at Lord of the Fries said, “do you want your receipt?” Laurie has seen some shit. Ultimately, you would expect it to make her an engaging character, interesting in her brokenness. LOUD BUZZER SOUND. Wrong! She’s the human equivalent of a beige turtle neck sweater! I put it down to the writing; the acting is alright. I am probably blinded by Josh Hartnett’s charm though. Call me.
The dialogue is too rigid and is void of the nuances you’d expect given the different life experiences of the characters. I understand that John had to grow up too fast, had to look after his mum, but he still flicks between dude bro teenage talk and fun little phrases like, “If you wanna stay handcuffed to your dead brother, that’s fine, but you’re not dragging me along!” Savage, and like… Does he even know what she went through? Has he watched all the films? I. Bet. Not. Who has? Not Sam! She fell asleep in the cinema when we went to see it at Marion during Cult Classics Season! Um. Anyway. The dialogue faults are particularly interesting given there were rewrites by Kevin Williamson, writer/producer of Scream.
I said before that it gets a little clusterfucky. Let me explain. Actually. Let me not. I mean, why should I if the film doesn’t bother? There are six Halloween films before H20. Four to six are flat out ignored in this reboot, with only the first three treated as canon. Look, it’s not a bad decision (four to six are… not… good…) but it’s also fuck confusing for a while there.
Also, why’s this guy reading his own smutty slash fiction over the phone? How come there is only one black dude in this whole film? Why’s Laurie’s boyfriend so creepy? Are all adult men this creepy? Who thought the date rape joke would be funny? Does nobody believe in the double tap principle? Omg, why are you holding his hand?! He tried to kill you, Laurie! So many questions. So little time. Seriously, the film has a short running time of less than 90 minutes.
There are some redeeming aspects however. Let’s not call them the ‘good’ parts…I don’t wanna lie to you. We’ll call them the less parts.
The first is the way Laurie says “John!” when she finds him skipping school. Jaaahhhnnn! JAHN!!!!! Perfect delivery; you go Jamie. Love it. The score of the film is well done and is appropriately reminiscent of the original films. It does do a little bit of the tricksy copy/paste from the Scream score though. The final on screen death is fuuuunnnnn but I reckon there needs to be at least 100% more blood for that to look ~~real. Generally speaking, despite the flaws, H20 is still an okay film somehow. It’s just average 90s slasher trash, you know?
So, the verdict… Uh… dunno, mate. It’s chaotic and a bit shit but also not? It’s not good or bad. It’s just… Actually, Loomis sums it up well when he says, “No reason, no conscience, no understanding, even [of] the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong.” Loomis @ Mikey or me @ this film? Por que no los dos?!