UK Release Date – TBC
Another week, another cheapo slasher film that wants to be John Carpenter or even Adam Wingard but hasn’t got the talent involved to even get close. With a tag-line like ‘rotten to the core’ the review practically writes itself. Oh dear. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Masked killers, Autumn festivities, a credits scene using a white Albertus font. You wouldn’t have thought it could be too hard to get all this wrong when a few details seem correct, but these are token similarities at best. This doesn’t even come close to passing as a distant homage. Despite two instances of incredibly gory special effects in the opening and the finale it’s not really something I’d classify as a brutal splatter movie either. Instead it’s most just filler subplots and trite killer scenes that lack pacing, atmosphere or style.
In an opening shock sequence a random killer stabs a pregnant woman to death. No build up, just a sudden bloody murder with unsettling results as her husband arrives to find the aftermath. It would be effective if it wasn’t all so flat and the technical problems didn’t rear their head so early. Before dying she opened the door to what was supposed to be some trick-or-treat callers. I say supposed to be as it was clearly a weird stock noise for a crowd of kids that would feel out of place in Rollercoaster Tycoon. It’s easy to get bogged down in these kinds of details but you’d expect some effort for something so simple. Or even just a couple of extras off camera doing a high pitched voice. What do I know.
Later there are hand gun sounds like something from a battleship cannon firing, people watching TV with no sound at all, and colour timing that goes wrong so that an American flag and a pool of blood are clearly orange. In other scenes a teenager at a local school looks at least thirty years old and weapon impacts look phony. Some bad microphone distortion and repetitive music is to be expected in the world of VOD dumpster diving of course, but all these other problems just compound the issue. If you’re expecting the writing or the direction to be any more creative or competent then I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.
The rest of the story is basically part house moving drama and part home invasion plot. Weird neighbours, awkward dialogue between new co-workers, and then all the usual masked stabbing. Brea Grant and Graham Skipper go through the motions as a couple trying to get a fresh start; a teacher and a doctor respectively. But their unboxing melodrama goes on and on to the point of it turning into a soap opera. Richard Riehle tries to inject some scenery chewing screen presence to the proceedings as a school principle doing a fire and brimstone bit for some reason, complete with JESUS posters in his office. But it’s all so scattershot and feels like a series of tangents that were thrown together at random.
Just as a slasher flick Graham Skipper delivers a whole bunch of expository dialogue right in the middle of an attack scene, and the murderers become less competent whenever the plot demands it. He’s not bad as the young at heart pumpkin carving husband against Brea Grant’s melancholy but sometimes OCD wife. But their scenes all lack any sort of dry and lack any real flavour in terms of true romance or real tragedy. Everything is shot in the same flat way, and beyond a few good practical effects and a so-so masked point of view sequence it’s all lacking in style.
There might have been some underlying subtext about parenthood or maternal loss in here somewhere at some stage, but the script doesn’t really make this work if it was ever intended. Elsewhere there are threads about a local sex offender that feels detached from the rest of the story, and nosy neighbours that appear for one scene and are never seen again. There aren’t really enough characters for it to feel like a story with an ensemble, and there are few shots of the street exterior to give any impression of the surrounding geography. It’s all just so sloppy and there’s no sense of time and place, which is kind of a problem for a story about a colourful fun time of year being turned into a bloodbath.
The killers themselves wear masks that are pretty interesting to look at at least. If only there was some sort of motive or a plan involved. Their murder spree could have been chalked up to them being deranged or damaged in some way, but they’re just school kids and not escaped lunatics. The exposition that eventually comes around appears in a horribly tacked on and drawn out epilogue with the word ‘coda’ shoved on the screen to make sure it’s obvious. It’s badly acted and badly improvised, with no real surprises or satisfying reveals. But at that stage who cares? You’re better off just picking up any other recent release that has spooky masks on the cover and taking your chances.