Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Hallo-Meme


As an American, I'm aware that the rose-colored view many of my fellow U.S. liberals have of Canada is probably more than a bit mirage. Still, it's sometimes hard not to think of the great north as a giant marshmallow, particularly when you watch an earnest and kind of adorable little horror movie rich in "sore-ees" and "aboots".

Quick Plot: Unhappy upperclassman Grace is hanging out at her friend Zoe's when they receive what looks like an old school computer virus. Zoe laughs it off as a recurring meme, one she had previously ignored. Grace plays along. The graphic asks you to name your biggest fear (Grace's is the common "vagina spiders") while Zoe shares a childhood story about her somewhat understable phobia regarding pig men. 

Later that night, Zoe is working the overnight shift at a clothing store when her meme-ignoring sin comes back to haunt her via lethal mauling. Only Grace thinks there's a connection there, so her next step is to rope in a programming star named Spencer to help unravel some code. A few expected-to-clever nerd jokes later and Spencer and Grace find themselves back near a computer with a doomed frat boy who laughs off the game, only to soon play his own version of It Follows before dying horribly in front of his classmates. 

The connection is clear, though the investigation takes some interesting turns. While many of Halloween Party's beats are unabashedly modeled on other horror movies, the full reveal that includes imprisoned mutant children (not so lovingly dubbed "balloon babies") certainly has some surprises.

Written and directed by Jay Dahl, Halloween Party is...cute. I know that's not generally the adjective you'd want to associate with horror, but I can't think of a better one. Yes, its characters are Scream-lite self-aware which will indeed merit a well-deserved eyeroll, but the movie never seems to think it's actually clever. It cares enough about its story and players to invest them with urgency. This is, to be clear, a derivative and cheap little film, but it's an incredibly EARNEST, knowingly derivative cheap little horror film. Make of that what you will.

High Points
I'll stay vague to avoid a spoiler, but allow me to acknowledge Halloween Party's use of one of my favorite types of endings: the one that transforms what seems like a singular horror story to one with a much broader footprint. 

Low Points
Budget limitations in mind, there are still ways to work with what you've got in order to create some style but Halloween Party just doesn't seem too invested in even trying

Lessons Learned
If your college has a promising computer science program, be advised that every text you send via campus wifi is being monitored by good-humored nerds

For the good of those around you, keep your biggest fears as individually-targeted as possible

Canadians think very highly of Cleveland

Look! It's - 
Sure, lead Amy Groeing is apparently related to The Simpsons creator Matt, but more importantly, our information dumping former doctor is played by Shelley Thompson, a name that might mean nothing to you but will forever live in many a Labyrinth fan's mind as the cruel stepmother who sentenced poor wet Merlin to the garage

Halloween Party is not going to scare you, but if you love the genre, this is a sweet little valentine of a movie that you might still enjoy. Find it on Amazon Prime. 

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