Hallow’s End

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Fun Fact: This guy isn't in the movie!

I like to take a little bit from every piece of horror related media I come in contact with. With the best works, you can really get involved with the story or characters. Sometimes a mediocre movie will have a great camera angle in it somewhere, a great piece of score or an innovative way to move the plot. While this is a fairly bad flick, it has a haunted house scene that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. More on that later, but I’m one of those guys that likes to start with a round of positives.

The plot is pretty simple, and pretty cliche if you ask me. I recently read a review of the movie bashing it for being a blatant copy of an old “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode. Here’s the plot: A group of college kids go to a big warehouse to put on a haunted house for some local charity. One of the props they use in the house turns out to be an old demonic spell book, and one of the kids gets drunk and reads a few passages. Sh*t goes haywire during the show, the kids systematically turn into the monsters they are pretending to be, and people start dying. While it’s not highly original, it’s good clean Halloween fun. The Goosebump’s book, “The Haunted Mask”, uses the same vehicle of people becoming the monsters they are imitating. Needless to say, I don’t think anyone from Stein’s crew is going after these guys.

Now that you’ve gotten a feel for the thing, you can probably guess it’s budget: Negligible. That’s not to say it’s without any high points, but I’ll just be frank and tell you it’s production value is that of a SciFi channel movie. The producers meant well; you can see it in the way the haunted house walkthrough is done. Whoever made this movie set out to make a great movie, but didn’t have the talent in the right places to pull it off. For starters, the script is nothing new. The dialogue is straight forward, the characters are one dimensional (which works in movies like this), and the plot lags and lurches like a kid learning to drive stick. I like a good uber cliche’d movie if it’s point is to be cliche, but as I pointed out earlier, these guys seem like they were trying to put on a quality show. Lines like “I wish they were all vampires, at least we know how to deal with vampires” really turn me off when the characters say them with a straight face.

The next point to blame is the acting. I’m gonna go with my writer’s gut and say most of this is due to the script. If your lines are dumb, you’re going to come across as a retard saying them. How am I backing that up? I already gave you one line from the script. Another gift of literary genius: “A: You’re a religious studies major, right? B: Let me take a look… This is old, Latin, Eastern Germanic, maybe Gothic” I’m not a film major but… Shut the hell up. Nobody talks like that. Beyond just the dialogue, everyone plays a character type, not a character. Tom is a wimpy ex- boyfriend. Dan is the a**hole new boyfriend. Kira is a lesbian. The asian whore is an asian whore. The only guy that is not a stereotype is the random college kid on the tour who doesn’t even have a name in the credits.

The director had some hits and some misses, as can be expected from a movie I found on a round rack at Wegman’s Market for $6. The opening scene is terrible, some chanting and robed figures with a book. Lots of strobe flashes as they all get killed. I think I played that exact same scene in my head as the opening to a hundred movies I decided were too bad to finish. Then we cut, after some terrible CGI credits, to very well done homage to one of the greatest directors in history. The opening of the real story (just skip the first scene) introduces us one by one to the characters as they pull up to the outside of the warehouse and begin to unpack. This 7 minute scene is one continuous take, the camera bringing us up to speed with the histories of the entire cast. The rest of the show plays out in typical fashion, nothing ground breaking but nothing too terrible either. We keep away from extreme close ups and keep a lot of the surprising bits too the sides of the frame so the don’t come across as too hokey. All in all a decent showing.

One more note on production before I wrap up: The sound quality is not bad. It’s probably one of the most professional parts of the whole ordeal. While the score is a little interesting (not claiming I could do any better), the effects are very crisp and focused. Whoever mixed this for the DVD did a great job. While it’s no surround sound, you never miss a beat.

Now for the icing: the haunted house walkthrough. As a little bit of background, I have a sort of top 7 genre movies I always watch before Halloween, one for each day of the week proceeding it. This movie is one of them. It may be cheap and un-original, but it is fun and is all about the greatest holiday of them all. About midway through the movie, we open to the exterior of the warehouse, teeming with kids and music and eerie lights, everything you could want in a haunted house. Chainsaws, flayed cats, creepy carnival folk. The host, Tom (Your Undertaker), lets in a group of guests, and, in an awesomely diabolic accent, leads them through the various scenes of the house. The scenes include a ghoul in a cornfield, an alien abductee, a vampire, a mad scientist and more. Each of the main characters has a room for themselves to show off in, thus linking them with the monster they will eventually become. If I ever run a haunted house, this is what I would compare it to. The ultra charismatic Tom even breaks character a few times to deal with unruly actors and to provide fake scares. This is the one part of the movie where everyone shines. While the kids have some work to do to make it on the big screen, I would certainly bring them out at my haunted house.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of the genre and can keep their mind open. If you’re a stickler for quality, stay away, but if you’re like me and can take pleasure in the little things, do yourself a favor. Grab a beer and a shot of tequila and stay in for the night. If you don’t like it, hell, at least you’ve got a buzz and you know what not to do on your first venture into  film making. And you got to see some naked chicks making out.

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