Halloween H20: Laurie Strode, the OG Scream Queen Getting Even this Halloween

It is tragic that this year’s Halloween season has seen barely any worthwhile horror shaking up the box office. Sure, Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” is being released here and there, but if what I’ve seen on #FilmTwitter is anything to go by, the film is still quite inaccessible to quite a substantial amount of people. So, if like me, you’re spending your Halloween on the couch of a friend’s house, with some pumpkin spice–allow me to suggest you revisit Steve Miner‘s “Halloween: H20”.

Only two (arguably three) of the six “Halloween” films released prior to this are worthy of a recommendation. This film–set 20 years after the events of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) barely escaping the hospital with her life on that fateful Halloween night–seems to have capitalized on the cultural zeitgeist of the “Scream” films (also worthy of a Halloween slasher binge).

H20 proves that the slasher formula has some vitality to it yet. Don’t be misled, this script is incredibly predictable; but this is perhaps why fans–and I am one of them–keep coming back to these films. Many scenes will have audiences screaming at the television screen: “take the damn weapon with you!”/ “don’t go down there!” / “out the door, not down the stairs!” –but that’s just where all the fun is.

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The character of Laurie is still traumatized by the events of the first two films (She is not present in Halloween 3-6; and for good reason). The last time we saw Laurie was when she escaped the hospital in the second instalment; now, we catch up with her and learn that she’s had a son, moved to Northern California, and has changed her name, Keri Tate. She is also headmistress of a posh, private school. The theme of motherhood is only slightly broached here, in how Laurie’s relationship with her son is one of control and fear. She is the headmistress of the school he studies in, she refuses to let him go on a school-organized trip, and she constantly polices him.

“H20 proves that the slasher formula has some vitality to it yet. Don’t be misled, this script is incredibly predictable; but this is perhaps why fans–and I am one of them–keep coming back to these films.”

The film doesn’t shy away from depicting Laurie as a flawed, disturbed human. We learn early on in the film that she has been suffering–for the past two decades–with nightmares of her serial killer brother. Her haunted past not only plagues her dreams, but also manifests itself in how paranoid she is when dealing with her son. There is no evidence suggesting to her that Michael had survived the events in the hospital, yet Laurie still fears.

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H20 makes clever use of Laurie’s character backstory; here, she is both the complex heroine and the archetypal survivor. Admittedly, this is the kind of film I wish had been made by a woman. I feel that a woman’s touch to the story would’ve added more layers and facets to the character of Laurie. Make no mistake, she is a strong, well-written character; had this script been written by a woman, however, it most likely would’ve had more to say about the female experience. Women and men have very different lived experiences; it would be nice to see women’s stories told by other women, and not by men who think women should behave/be a certain way.

“The enjoyment of this film can be attributed to one significant element: Jamie Lee Curtis. Apparently she had refused to return to the series in the 3rd-6th because of the poor quality of the scrips; so seeing her here is more than welcome.”

h20 jamie

In spite of that, as it stands here, Laurie is a lovely example of a woman playing a role typically given to men: the gritty, flawed, and relentless survivor. Not once is she seen as useless; she is smart, she is resourceful, she is strong. She is a paradigm of virtue and savage determination. Laurie has come a long way from the frail, fearful babysitter–she has easily set the standard for all final girls. This script may be written by a man, but Laurie is never objectified nor debased; she is, undoubtedly, strong and capable.

The enjoyment of this film can be attributed to one significant element: Jamie Lee Curtis. Apparently, she had refused to return to the series in the 3rd-6th because of the poor quality of the scrips; so seeing her here is more than welcome; it defines the film, and underscores the fact that this franchise is nothing without her.

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