ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (2013)
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This is one of those low budget, direct to home media horror entries that deserves a bit more attention than it got, as it makes a really nice effort and overcomes the restrictions of it’s budget to deliver some chills and Halloween set fun.
Anthology flick has a clever wrap-around story of babysitter, Sarah (hot girl-next-door type Katie Maguire) watching two kids, Timmy and Tia (Cole Mathewson and Sydney Freihofer) on Halloween night. Timmy finds a VHS tape that someone has put in his trick ‘r’ treat bag and wants to watch it. Sarah reluctantly puts it on and it is revealed to be a horror flick starring a very disturbing clown (Mike Giannelli) as it’s centerpiece. After the first gruesome segment, Sarah sends the kids to bed, but decides to watch the rest by herself. As the young woman continues the movie, she is treated to two more vignettes of terror and strange things start to happen around her. Is there more to this tape and this mysterious clown than a simple low budget fright flick? Is this movie more trick than treat?
Written and directed by Damien Leone, this little flick overcomes budget restrictions and clichés to deliver some legitimate chills and a couple of gruesome sequences, all the while maintaining that Halloween spirit. One of the keys is establishing three likable characters in Sarah and the kids, so when they are scared, we are sympathetic. The heroines within the tape’s stories are likable and sympathetic as well. Leone also gives us one creepy clown as our host/villain and a strong bad guy is another plus in any horror. The three vignettes are a bit of a mixed bag, The first has pretty Casey (Kayla Lian) waiting alone for a train on Halloween night and being abducted by “Art The Clown” and taken to be held prisoner with two other girls in a tunnel beneath the city streets. Obviously, something awaits in that tunnel and they have gruesome plans for our young ladies. This segment is OK, but didn’t do that much for me. It doesn’t really go anywhere and despite a creepy start, doesn’t deliver too many chills until the final few minutes. The second segment has a woman (Catherine A. Callahan) alone in her big, new, remote home while her husband’s away and dealing with some very otherworldly intruders. Despite the villains of the piece looking like someone in costume for Comic-Con, Leone still generates some nice atmosphere and suspense aided by a good performance by Callahan as the trapped and isolated wife. Third segment is the best, as it brings Art back and the sinister clown stalks a pretty young costume designer (Marie Maser) lost on the backroads and looking to get home. This segment is really creepy and delivers some gruesome gore as well. We then wrap-up the film as life imitates art…or “Art”…and Sarah faces a babysitter’s worst Halloween nightmare right out of the movie. Overall, a good effort and definitely shows potential for Leone. There is also an atmospheric score by Noir Deco and each segment is given it’s own look and feel by having a different cinematographer film each one.
The cast help Leone along and he gets good work out of most. I liked that he chose a bit older actress to play Sarah instead of a screaming teen. Actually makes it more effective that a level-headed adult is starting to really get creeped out. Maguire is not only hot, but makes a good choice as one of mom’s pretty friends coerced into babysitting on a night you least want to babysit. Mathewson and Freihofer are solid as the siblings and avoid the annoying child syndrome. Lian, Callahan and Maser all do well in giving us our damsels in distress during their respective vignettes and Mike Giannelli creates a very disturbing and creepy clown in “Art” and does so without dialogue. Using just his eyes and facial expressions, Giannelli gives us a very effective villain and it helps make this little flick work so well.
I liked this little movie and am willing to cut it some slack for it’s shortcomings. Possibly more for the effort than the actual movie itself, but Leone does seem to love horror and knows a bit of what makes them work. Two of the three vignettes are very effective and the second even overcomes some low budget looking creatures to remain spooky, while the third really nails it. The wrap-around story does bring it all together, as intended and even if we’ve seen a lot of this before, the Halloween clichés are used well and are there for a reason. A well-intentioned little Halloween horror that shows some potential for it’s makers and gives us something else to watch during that special time of year. Great movie…no, fun little flick with it’s heart in the right gruesome place…yes!
3 scary clowns.