Halloween H20: 20 Years Later does exactly what its title sets out to do. A 20 year time span between the events of the first film and this one from director Steve Miner allows for an older, more knowledgeable Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has attempted to move on with her life after Michael Myers by faking her own death, taking a new name and position at a prep school, and protecting her 17-year-old son John (Josh Hartnett) from her horrific past. Of course, this takes a much different direction than the previous installment Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; it’s clear that everyone was more than happy to elide any direct reference to the Cult of Thorn and attempt to get back to basics, complete with a few Easter eggs thrown in for eagle-eye viewers.
With Kevin Williamson on production, Halloween H20 more closely resembles his other credits than a true spiritual successor to Halloween; one can even see Scream 2 playing in the background during one scene. While the film does have all of the setup of a Myers film – takes place on Halloween, a group of teenagers fit for slaughter, Michael targeting his relative – the overall tone of the movie follows a much more contemporary slasher bent than the suspense of John Carpenter’s hit. Here, Michael has a relatively low body count and a surprisingly limited amount of screen time, with Miner honing in more on Laurie’s struggles with escaping her past (and housing a bunch of liquor) instead of utilizing the vast school setting for more cat-and-mouse tension.
More importantly, Halloween H20 suffers from a lack of… well, Halloween. The prep school setting doesn’t allow for much atmosphere, and except for a few references to the holiday and a timestamp that lets the viewer know it most certainly is October 31st, the film could almost take place at any time without issue. While writer Robert Zappia certainly seems to know his Halloween history and horror in general, the movie fails to capture the allure of Michael Myers and his unique stalking scenarios, making this feel like one more derivative cut in the franchise.
It’s unfortunate, too, because H20 could have been a revitalizing moment for the series much like 2018’s Halloween requel; instead, we were treated to one more lackluster movie (Halloween: Resurrection four years later) before Michael hung up the mask for a while. And while we’re on the topic of masks, the less said about this film’s model, the better.
Full uncompressed screenshots from this UHD.
Paramount Pictures has released a new 4K UHD steelbook version of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later for the masses one year after Scream Factory’s Halloween 4K Collection boxset. Here, fans who only wanted to own this sequel instead of the lackluser Resurrection can get it individually with new artwork and a translucent slipcover.
In terms of video quality, it looks like the transfer used for this release is exactly the same as Scream Factory’s. We did comparison screenshots and I also compared both releases back-to-back and found no real differences between the picture quality itself; it still boasts strong detail if seeming a little sharpened with grain reduction. The major changes for this release, though, is the HDR and color grading. Scream Factory’s HDR was definitely a bit strong with a red push that often enhanced colors with extreme saturation. That’s been toned back on Paramount’s Dolby Vision/HDR 10 offering, which seems a bit more muted but also more realistic in its color grading. The contrast with blacks and shadows is still noticeably apparent even when comparing to Scream Factory’s Blu-ray version; that is overall brighter than the inky blacks we get from the HDR. In terms of video, this release is a great option for those that didn’t grab the Scream Factory UHD or thought that one looked too enhanced.
Also like Scream Factory’s release, this UHD includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds pretty good, if lacking some dynamics. Dialogue is a little low and the use of satellite speakers is not particularly enunciated, but other than that there are no real issues with the track and everything remains at a consistent volume. You’ll notice that a 2.o stereo track has not been included like on the previous release.
The real downfall of Paramount’s disc, though, is that it’s missing all of the great extra content. There’s literally nothing else on here, not even a commentary. Even the disc menu is a grotesque static screenshot, making this feel exceedingly lazy. It seems strange that Paramount couldn’t even conjure up the previous audio commentary with Steve Miner and Jamie Lee Curtis.
NEW (?) 4K transfer with Dolby Vision/HDR10
NEW steelbook with original artwork and transparent slipcover
While the transfer on Halloween H20: 20 Years Later looks about as good as Scream Factory’s release and features an arguably more natural HDR color grading, Paramount’s new steelbook lacks any extra features at all. If you’re only looking to own the film on 4K, this may be a good fit – but if bonus features are important, you’ll have to stick with Scream Factory’s boxset.
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