As a fan of anthology horror and pretty open-minded guy, I took to the original All Hallow’s Eve better than a lot of folks did; while it wasn’t Creepshow, it still had enough in it to keep me interested and enjoy the time I spent with it (see that review here). Like ninety percent of all anthologies, it had its hits and its misses, but overall I thought it acquitted itself nicely.
Now, along comes the sequel; I myself looked forward to it on a personal level, but as a somewhat jaded reviewer, I gotta admit that I went into it worried about both the weaknesses of the original and the propensity of sequels to be sub-par. Still, I have to say I was glad when All Hallow’s Eve 2 started flickering across the screen…
A young woman is home alone on Halloween night…and she’s not happy about it. Lamenting about her deadbeat boyfriend not calling, she’s beside herself with frustration — until she sees the stranger staring up at her window from the sidewalk below. A bit unnerved, she nevertheless returns to her angst, but a knock at the door brings her fear back up once more. Checking, she finds that same stranger staring up at her from the bottom of the stairs, and a lone VHS tape lying at her threshold. Rather than call the police (or even try the boyfriend again), she decides to settle in and check out what’s on this old videotape, where she watches as eight horrific vignettes play out across her screen…but will she find spooky entertainment for her Hallow’s Eve…or will something find her?
The film is really a grouping of short horror films bound by the wraparound of the Halloween evil using the tape to invade our world (the only real connection to the original…no, Art the Clown isn’t here for this one, it’s more of a combination Michael Myers and Pumpkinhead kinda guy). In this case (as with any anthology packing so many stories into such a runtime), you don’t expect a hell of a lot of character development; no sir, what you’re hoping for is a smack-you-in-the-face bit of storytelling with each that leaves you breathless and wondering. All Hallow’s Eve 2 delivers on this in some cases…and misses the mark in others.
The first segment, Jack Attack, wound up being one of my favorites — it was a nice little tale of Halloween gone awry, with good performances (Helen Rogers of V/H/S all but channeling a young Danielle Harris), very nice effects, and an overall vibe that was horrific without being overbearing — it really felt like a Halloween tale. The second, The Last Halloween, had a different twist on the holiday, and had some interesting make ups and solid performances. The Offering was a quickie, a little slice-of-life that left a lot of people cold because of the short, unresolved nature of the vignette; I took it the same way I took Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery — you get enough to know what’s going on — but I did feel it was one of the weaker chapters.
Descent, while not the most original of tales (you’ve seen the plot and the twist before), did have some fine performances (April Adamson was very convincing) and a very Hitchcock-esque vibe to it. M Is For Masochist was a very quick little morality play, with genre favorite Bill Oberst, Jr. lending his talents to the film, albeit in one of lesser impact. The next chapter, A Boy’s Life, impressed me by having some real character development and fine acting, Christie Lynn Smith and Griffin Gluck as a mother and son dealing with the death of the father who had been serving overseas. This tale offers some really touching and thought-provoking moments, and in all honesty the horror element was actually a real anticlimax for me, but hey, it is a horror movie. We return to the the Halloween theme with Mr. Tricker’s Treat, which features a neighborhood guy whose house is always the best decorated for Halloween, but it’s what he uses for his décor that’s the real horror — a nice dark comic twist elevated this one from being too boring. Finally, we have what’s probably my (and most folks’) favorite segment, Alexia. Imagine skillfully combining elements of J-horror with the best tropes of the current trend of internet-based horror flicks, and this is what you get — genuinely scary at times, well-shot and acted. The wraparound tale, while technically well-shot and competently acted by Andrea Monier, didn’t really impact the story — it really doesn’t occupy very much screen time; unlike the first All Hallow’s Eve, the bookend story is really just there as binder — not much there overall.
So, in closing, I have to say that like any horror film, this one won’t be for everyone. However, I’ve gotta recommend it to fans of anthologies/short horror — if you get into these formats, All Hallow’s Eve 2 is definitely worth a watch.
Me? I liked it.
And that’s my two.
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