Movie Review: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Synopsis: Twenty years after her brother, Michael Myers, stalked her and killed her friends, Laurie Strode has faked her death, changed her name and is working as a headmistress at an exclusive private boarding school in California. Even though she has not seen her brother in 20 years and he is believed to be dead, she still continues to live in fear, especially on Halloween night. This year, however, her fears are justified when he returns to stalk both her and her 17-year-old son.

Who's in it? The movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Durand, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams and LL Cool J.

Review: I lost interested in the Halloween movies around the 5th installment and, as a result of that, never got around to watching this film in the 20 years it has been released. However, my wife and I came across it last night and, since we actually had some time before bed, decided to finally watch it. As it turns out, I thought it was one of the better films from the franchise.

There are two things I found I really liked about this movie. The first was there wasn't a lot of wasted time in the film. One of my biggest complaints about the original Halloween is it takes forever for something to happen. This time around, Michael (Durand) starts his killing spree right at the very beginning of the film and, even as all the major characters are being introduced, we get to see shots of him as he's on his way to California.

This movie, unlike some of the previous sequels, also keeps things simple. There are no complicated stories about curses, cults, etc. The film basically just ignores the sub-par sequels and makes the movie about Michael and his pursuit of Laurie (Curtis).

Unlike some of the previous films, I also thought this sequel did a good job of fleshing out the characters. This made a big difference because I genuinely cared if they lived or died, whether it was Laurie or the campus security guard (LL Cool J).

My only real complaint about this movie is, even though it hints Michael's return is related to Laurie's son (Hartnett) turning 17 and pretends sequels 4 through 6 didn't happen, we never learn why Michael hasn't been seen in 20 years. Was he hiding in a cave somewhere? Did he also assume a new identity and get a job? While it wasn't something that necessarily ruined the movie, it would have been nice to have a hint about why he went undetected by authorities for that length of time and, if his return was related to her son, how he knew she had one.

Final Opinion: As I said, it would have been better to give the audience at least a brief explanation about how Michael Myers dropped off the face of the Earth for 20 years. But, overall, I thought this was a good film and I did enjoy watching it.

My Grade: B


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