It feels a bit unfair to watch H20 after David Gordon Green’s recent Halloween. Both films essentially share the same story — only the latter attempt does it much, much better. In both entries, we find an older Laurie, now with a child she has a complicated relationship with, still haunted by the events of that horrible Halloween night in 1978. Just as she tries to come to terms with the fact that Michael is indeed dead, the undefeatable villain inevitably comes back. Only this time, he takes his sweet time to come into the spotlight.
If it weren’t for its place in one of the most popular horror saga of all time, it’d be hard to recognize H20 as something that is supposed to inspire fright. Almost all of the first hour is dedicated to Laurie and her son through aspects of their lives together and apart from each other: their conflicts, their relationships, their stupid decisions. John (Laurie’s son, played by Josh Hartnett in his film debut) wants to go on a school trip that Laurie herself organized, but her mother is too scared to let him go out of her sight. This is at best a side plot in a soap opera — not exactly what’d you expect from a slasher film. Especially once it seems so determined to linger on it for more than three quarters of the runtime.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with horror films explicitly trying to deal with more than just serial killing. Horror has always been a fascinating and complex genre, and it has the academic research to prove it. H20’s attempt to deal with trauma and how it affects family is commendable in theory, but in practice it is sidelined more often than not in favour of teenagers (who will obviously die) talking about having sex. They’re not even annoying enough to make the following killing any fun to watch. What could have been a compelling return to a beloved character is what no horror movie should ever be: a complete, unredeemable bore.
At some point towards the end, the film does remember that it’s supposed to be kind of scary and throws Michael into the mix so he can stab away for a solid ten minutes — but at this point, the damage is done. He doesn’t exactly jump out of nowhere, however it’d probably still be better than have him taking power walks around the campus where Laurie works, which is the questionable choice the film does go with. Even after spending so much time with the characters, there still isn’t any feeling of urgency in this final chase. Whereas Curse had Myers becoming even more powerful than ever before, this version of the famous serial killer is almost inoffensive. By reducing his influence, even what should have been a triumphant ending feels insignificant. This isn’t Laurie conquering her demons or the end of Myers — it’s just the end of the worst looking mask in the series (which painfully reminded me of my art projects in primary school). Curtis deserves better, baby Michelle Williams better, we all deserve better. And even if the newest Halloween certainly isn’t perfect either, it’s nice to know that they did get a better version of what is only hinted at here. H20 is without a doubt one of the less compelling entries in the series, neither smart nor entertaining. It brings nothing apart perhaps from an unexpected nostalgia for the Jamie days of the franchise. Boring, underwhelming and underdevelopped, this entry is one worth skipping.
Next and final step: Resurrection. Ugh.