Halloween H20: 20 Years Later ★★½

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A failure as a Halloween installment and a triumph as a Jamie Lee Curtis showcase. She provides one of her best performances in a film that mostly fails to compliment her agency. Most of H20 is a reaction to Scream, Dawson's Creek and other media responses to a century of culture nearing its endpoint. And as strong as these elements are - Curtis and her mother, Janet Leigh, sharing a moving "happy halloween!" moment; the expert audience catch-up of the mechanics of the series, complete with a adorably clumsy opening credit sequence of a posterboard - H20 never rises to the task of being a Halloween in spirit.

If only the film was more like the beginning, which, in addition to featuring a young Joseph Gordon Levitt as a hockey jock, precisely maneuvers through suburban spaces and provides a scary, instant hook to the story at play. Steve Miner teases the appearance of Michael brilliantly with multiple fake-outs. The best of the bunch is when the camera heads into an office that Michael has (presumably) ransacked, and without knowledge of the layout of the house, a door opens in the office, leading to the thought that Michael is hiding in a closet. It turns out to be a second door leading back out to the hallway, and Levitt is just passing through. The opening, as a short-film, is a booster shot of Halloween atmosphere, and it's sadly underutilized afterwards. H20 really does function as a missed opportunity in spite of all the promising elements feeding into the larger narrative, some of which the 2018 reboot solved. I'm happy that film gave Jamie Lee Curtis a more steady endeavor to work with, rather than grappling with all the baggage that occurs while trying to keep up with the times.