20 years on, Laurie Strode is still traumatised by what she went through in Halloween (and, er, Halloween Two). A "functioning alcoholic", overprotective single mom, Laurie is the headmistress of a private school in California and still has regular visions of Michael - revealed in the first sequel as her brother - coming to get her. This Halloween, he does - murdering another leftover from the original (Nancy Stephens as a nurse), and going after Laurie's boyfriend (Arkin), son (Hartnett) and so
In 1978, the tag for John Carpenter's original Halloween was "The night HE came home"; this is a film in which everyone comes home.
Since Halloween Three: Season Of The Witch, which dumped the characters from the first two films and tried a fresh direction but was a box office flop, there have been three more instalments of the saga, with that masked psycho Michael Myers offing fresh batches of teenagers, and the late Donald Pleasence stumbling around trying to explain things. Halloween H20 (subtitled Twenty Years Later) can't quite pretend these didn't exist - it has to get round its heroine's death, established in Halloween Four: The Return Of Michael Myers - but attempts to refresh the franchise for the Scream generation by calling back the original star (Lee Curtis) to the role that made her career, the persecuted Laurie Strode.
Curtis gives it all she's got, though her constant boozing is a touch comical, and the standard stalk-and-slash stuff takes an Aliens-like turn in a crowd-pleasing last act, which gets Scream-like kicks from not pulling the expected revelations, and allows Curtis to do many of the things you've always wanted to see those twitty horror movie heroines do. The in-jokes are subtler than in Scream, with a nice conversation between Curtis and her real-life mother Janet Leigh, which makes sense for the characters in this film but also applies to Leigh's sufferings in Psycho.
Director Steve Miner, on board because Carpenter passed, made two of the early Friday The 13th sequels and manages the business of the sudden knee-jerk shocks with ease, realising (as the previous sequels didn't) that Halloween movies are supposed to be scary not violent. However, the film is still cluttered with disposable supporting characters (L.L. Cool J as the gatekeeper deserves a swifter, more extreme fate than he gets) and is often clumsy where Carpenter used to be deft.
Taken as a sequel to Halloween, this is just above average; taken as a sequel to Halloween Two, which is where most of its backstory comes from, it looks terrific.