Movie Review: “All Hallows’ Eve”

     All Hallows’ Eve is a 2013 anthology horror film directed and written by Damien Leone in his feature-film debut. The director since went to work on Frankenstein vs. The Mummy, and according to his IMDpage, is filming a spin-off of All Hallows’ Eve called Terrifier.

The film stars Katie Maguire in the main-role, Sydney Freihofer and Cole Mathewson as the supporting cast, and Mike Giannelli as Art the Clown.

The film has a very thin and simplistic exposition: on Halloween, a woman is babysitting her friend’s children. The boy discovers someone has left a VHS tape in his Trick or Treat bag. Uneasy at first, the babysitter decides to watch the VHS tape on the VCR. (The family has iPhones, so it isn’t a 80s or 90s setting, they just, for some reason, have a hooked up VCR in their living room. No big deal!) The footage is a series of horror shorts often focused on a scary-ass clown. (Damien Leone made two short-films before All Hallows’ Eve, these are the horror shorts, as well as one more.)

Like I said, the film’s simple enough. The characters are one-dimensional, though, that’s because not a lot of time was given to individualize each character. The acting is fine, if a little overdone on occasion. I’d say the main-girl and the kids do a good job, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

This isn’t a criticism about the material, but a lot of the film would be downright gruesome if not for the budget’s limitation. This offers a different aesthetic for the film. For example, the first short-film has a bunch of creatures raping a women. Pretty heavy subject-matter, right? But the film’s budget inadvertently or deliberately makes the sacrificial scene feel darkly comedic, like a scene involving a baby where it’s clearly visible they are using a doll.

I like most of the short films though.

The first, as mentioned, could have played to its strengths more, but I like that it didn’t. They could’ve just took the camera off different shots, but instead, they embraced their low-budgetedness! Something I’ll acknowledge is how fantastic the make-up in the film looks. The first short-film exhibits it the most with a shit-ton of really cool looking creatures, my favorite being this fella.

The second short is a messily done alien short-film that wasn’t necessary and wasn’t good. It has nothing to do with the over-arching narrative and I assume it was only featured to fill the run-time.

The third and final short is about the Clown and his chase after some girl. The end of this scene is the highlight, strictly for the visual. Art the Clown has a presence about him, and not solely because he is a scary-ass clown, but because his appearance was creepily established and portrayed.

The final scenes of the main-story are the most disturbing aspect of the film. The disgust is kept in-check by the goofy structure itself, which either works to the film’s benefit or detriment, depending on who you ask. I didn’t expect them to end with something so violent, but once the novelty of it lets off, you realize that creatively, it was a cop-out.

    All Hallows’ Eve doesn’t feel like a straight-forward horror film or very much like an anthology film. Eve feels more like an easy way out approach to having Art the Clown pulverize people in a vaguely connected narrative. The strange thing about this though, is I enjoyed myself. The scenes were entertaining, except the one involving an Alien, that was weird and silly, but other-wise, all of them were entertaining!

As I watched the film, I didn’t approach it as a film as much as I did an audition video for what Art the Clown and Damien Leone could achieve together if offered ample time and opportunity.

It isn’t a good movie, I mean, All Hallow’s Eve is more like a Franken film stitched together by the director’s archive of old footage, loosely connected by a generic side-plot. It delivers goofy or disturbing beyond all else and has little pay-off other than shock-value.

But I was entertained by it, and do believe it has many flashes of inspiration. I’d recommend it to genre fans and I hope the Director does a full-fledged film with Art the Clown soon.

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