Terror of Hallow’s Eve is a pleasantly dark surprise, elevated by the film’s attention to detail in character and set design.
Synopsis: When 15-year-old Tim is brutally beaten up by High School bullies, his intense yearning for revenge unintentionally summons up evil supernatural forces offering to scare his despised enemies to actual death.
Tim (Caleb Thomas) is lonely, seeking solace in his fascination with crafting monsters and becoming progressively angry with his lot in life. His mother (Sarah Lancaster) is fiercely protective of him, consistently naming him Timmy and stepping in to fight his corner when she sees him being bullied by a group of boys. Of course, this only makes Tim’s situation worse, culminating in a beating which spurs him to seek revenge. Caleb Thomas gives an impressive performance as Tim, holding back seething anger under an awkward outer shell. It would be easy to over or under play each side and upset the balance, but he handles it incredibly well.
Terror of Hallow’s Eve is a pretty short film (1hr20mins including credits) and that isn’t a bad thing. While the concept is fun and there is definitely enough material to fill it, stretching the time any further would just be padding. It is always refreshing when the creators of a story know where to draw the line and this is all the better for it.
Doug Jones features as two different creatures within the film and does excellent work as both, proving what an absolute treasure he is in terms of bringing monsters to life with immense amounts of charm. He is helped considerably by the fact that a great deal of love has clearly gone into the construction and presentation of the creatures. The Trickster’s soft, child-like voice adds a great deal to his menace. Jones’ further appearance as Scarecrow is another example of an effectively creepy monster introduced to the narrative.
The design supports some excellent sequences, including one involving a puppet show, which is absorbing. For a moment, it seems that the film is going down the path of getting everyone in the house to off them one-by-one, but makes some interesting choices in terms of switching up the settings and constructing themes for each person, which is certainly more inventive than the first option.
There are soundtrack and more obvious audio and visual references to Halloween. For the most part, these work as they are woven into the original material. A character mentioning Haddonfield mental hospital feels a little on the nose, as it only functions as a wink to the audience, rather than furthering anything. Similarly, time-stamping the action as being in the 1980s feels like a strange choice, although it ties in well with the theme of childhood nostalgia, escapism and looking back picked at throughout the film. As the film unfolds, there is more of a reason for this which makes sense.
Terror of Hallow’s Eve is a revenge story with a darker edge. The dedication to craft something which has it’s own look and lore rewards viewers with something which feels rather different. Definitely one to watch on a Halloween night, although you’ll be able to watch it on Digital HD from June 10th through the Frightfest Presents strand.