I really liked this film. I'd heard good things about it and was looking forward to it, but with caution, as you can so easily do this style of film wrong! However, it's based on a short animated film which was written and directed by Michael Dougherty also, so you know the original material has been used to full potential!
There are 4 main stories encased within the timeframe of one particular Halloween night in America, and each story interlinks in some way or another.
The whole feeling of the film is between humorous, tense and cheesey (an excellent combination), and each tale focuses on something different, while still keeping the main theme: don't disrespect All Hallow's Eve Traditions and don't blow out the pumpkin light!
The First Tale
Emma (Leslie Bibb) and her husband Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) are coming back from the town Halloween parade in costume.
Emma hates Halloween and Henry loves it (kind of like my boyfriend and I, but the opposite way around...). Emma's tired and pissed off. She tries to talk Henry into taking down the decorations (on Halloween!). Henry isn't keen (he wants to watch Halloween porn in bed). Emma gives in and tells him to go inside and she'll take down the decorations instead. Henry bounces into the doorway and gets his video tape set up. Yes, video tape.
Emma begins taking down the rather extravagant decorations when she feels like someone is watching her. She begins to look about, sees a creepy guy in a mask, staring at her. She jumps, but then the guy turns out to be waiting on a lift to a Halloween party. Emma is just about convinced that everything's safe when she is suddenly jumped by a small figure in a dust sheet!
When Henry comes outside to find out where she's gotten to, it's to find Emma's gory remains decorating the garden...
A simple and short beginning, it sets the film up with a nicely gore-soaked opening.
Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) is the principal of the school. He's a bit of a psycho, too. Upon finding a brutish young boy called Charlie (Brett Kelly) smashing pumpkins and stuffing his face with too much chocolate, Wilkins decides to teach him a lesson. A deadly lesson.
Shockingly funny, and decidedly gross, this short nearly put me off my dinner. The burial scene is enjoyable, though! There's an entertaining end scene, too. And keep your eyes peeled for related characters!
The School Bus Massacre Revisited
Throughout the other stories, we have seen some trick or treaters who are looking for, not sweets, but pumpkins.
These kids turn out to be Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara (Isabelle Deluce), Chip (Alberto Ghisi) and eventually also strange fish Rhonda (Samm Todd).
They are lead by Macy to a cliff face, where she explains that a school bus full of children with special needs had been driven over by the bus driver, who was paid to do so. The driver hadn't intended to still be on the bus, however....
Macy states that she intends to honour Halloween by placing a pumpkin for each child victim near the waterside where the school bus and bodies still lie. The kids go down in a lift (or elevator), but is this little field trip all it appears? And was Rhonda invited along just to be nice to her?
A good little trip, there are some quite effective, if obvious jumps and again, I enjoy the ending!
I like this story because I like Anna Pacquin and I like a good build up. This story begins with a bunch of 20-something year old girls. Most of the group are getting dressed in as little as possible for the big Halloween party in the woods. All but Laurie (Anna Pacquin). She covers up, and unlike the others can't find a date. Her elder sister is quite cruel, getting her ugly or old dates, and constantly telling her she 'needs to be herself'.
When Laurie finds a date he's not what she expected, but he's certainly not expecting her surprise either!
Kreeg (Brian Cox) is a skanky old dude living with his dog. He enjoys frightening off Trick or Treaters with cruel tricks of his own. He's burning photos, and if you can guess who he is before it's given away, then you're paying attention!
He's all set to attack the next little kid who dares to chap his door when he finds out that some trick or treaters are not all they appear. Especially when they are Sam... Now, I'm going to hazard a guess that Sam's second name is Hain and when pronounced together he'd prefer you to call him 'Sow-en', because he's certainly a demon or the spirit of Halloween.
An exciting tale with an amazing performance from Brian Cox as the resilient old man! We even get to see what Sam's really made of, too.
Sam is creepy as! I love him!
A nicely rounded end which leads us (un)happily back to the start. I think this film is just what I wanted it to be, and with some good effects and some fun, gruesome humour in the mix, too. I think it's a new Halloween night favourite!
[Picture: Legendary Pictures, Bad Hat Harry Productions & Warner Premiere]