Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Mimes are Hellsent: All Hallow's Eve (2013)

All Hallow's Eve (2013)
Rating: ****
Staring:  Katie Maguire, Mike Giannelli, Catherine A. Callahan

My first encounter with Damien Leone was during my first year in college, when I came upon his creepy short about demons and witches befittingly titled The 9th Circle. The short was hellish and it freaked out the inner child within me. And then, just a year prior from writing this, I encountered another one of his shorts, a slasher-esque holiday horror known as The Terrifier (which I already made a review of here), and it was and still is impressive in a haunting sense.

For this review, I will be covering Leone's first "feature length" film, sold direct-to -video as All Hallow's Eve, collecting tthese two shorts and adding a new material with a workable wraparound.

The movie starts at the home of two young trick-or-treaters who just came back from the streets with their babysitter. Upon checking their haul, one of them notices a VHS tape slipped in with the candies and, despite a bit of a hesitation from their understandably weirded-out sitter, decided to watch it out of curiosity.

As it turns out, the VHS is a collection of various short films linked by the presence of one demonic-looking mime. After watching the first film, the sitter sent the two children to their beds, more freaked out than ever, but curiosity soon sets in as she continues to watch the rest of the films on her own. The more she does, however, the more she began to notice weird things happening around the corner of her eyes. It soon becomes apparent that she may be living a nightmarish story of her own.
Seize the night, kid. It might be your last...
All Hallow's Eve is actually a great holiday movie, perhaps one of the better Halloween themed horror flicks in recent times. My only complain, however, was that I really wished the producers could at least done something more creative than to rehash and re-introduce the director's original short films that were already made available in Youtube. It was as if they believe that around this day and age, we can't grab hold of a copy of the shorts The 9th Circle and Terrifier in their original format online and the only way for us to see them again was through this movie. Sadly, this is not the point. It's lazy, but it's not entirely bad on its own.

The vibe of Halloween is ever present despite the film's overly cheap production, and the tone is heavy and creepy all through out, especially if the film's own mascot (and perhaps a candidate for the next new face of slasher horror) just happens to be an evil mime named Art the Clown, who does nothing but wreck havoc of all form and laugh silently at your misery.

The series of shorts starts with the director's first film, which is The 9th Circle, telling the tale of a girl waiting alone in a train station one Halloween night, only to be harassed, drugged and captured by Art, readying her for a bloody orgy involving demons, witches and even Satan himself. This segment was actually extended with shot of additional footages, mostly to heighten the bodycount and stretch the film's running time. The overall result was an atmospheric, gruesomely macabre nightmare with cool looking (and impressively detailed) demons and one fucked up story that's just too dreadful to believe.

The second, which was the only short made for the film, involved a newly moved wife who finds herself stuck inside a house, stalked by what appears to be an alien. This segment was more akin to slasher films with its stalk-and-hunt format, with the human killer replaced by a visitor from outer space. (who I admit looks a little funny than scary) It's the most simplistic in terms of plot and relatively bloodless as no onscreen kill was committed, but in place of these, the short effectively executed brooding tension and a nice variation to the sub-genre.

The last segment, also the strongest, was Terrifier, a simple story of a woman driving back to New York during the Witching Hour, only to find herself targeted by none other than Art the Clown himself (now in his full slasher glory) right after she witnessed a horrific murder. The short is tight, quick in pace, overly gory and exploitative. The segment definitely wins as a short horror with its nightmare logic sense of direction and one of the most shockingly disturbing ending done in horror short history.

The wraparound was also one of the film's little highlights; while it is a little slow and the ending took a few elements from the Japanese horror The Ring, I love the sense of intensity it had in its climax, all of which gone haywire with the reveal of yet another shocking end and its all throughout creepiness.

I like the fact on how each segment seems to be entirely different from one another in terms of theme, style and approach. (save two, which are both slashers in their core) The sheer randomness of each scenario plays certainly well to bring out some chills and bloody spills, and frankly, I'm just glad it was all handled well as one whole movie, even if the producers had to cheat with the segments. Production looks professional enough as moodily composed synthesizer scores brings out the film's potential eeriness, acting was by far passable with a bit of realism, and while the special effects does look a bit dodgy at times (seeing these segments are film in separate years), they are impressive despite the cheap latex.

Be sure to keep an eye out for this! If you can look pass the fact you'd already seen some of these films, and at least appreciate the creative means to bring them all together in one running piece, then All Hallows' Eve awaits for you. And so does Art. Especially if you leave the movie running...

1 female dragged away in chains, killed
1 female hacked to death with meat cleaver
1 pregnant female had her fetus cut out with a dagger
1 female killed (method not seen)
1 male dismembered with hacksaw
1 female found with her hands cut off and her face bludgeoned flat against a car steering wheel
1 male shot on the head
1 boy and 1 girl dismembered
Total: 9
No Prayers can save you from this nightmare...

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