10.31.2013

Halloween Night (2006)

DIRECTED BY
Mark Atkins

STARRING
Derek Osedach - David Baxter
Rebekah Kochan - Shannon
Scot Nery - Christopher Vale
Sean Durrie - Larry
Alicia Klein - Tracy
Erica Roby - Angela
Amanda Ward - Kendall
Jared Michaels - Daryll
Nicholas Daly Clark - Todd


Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 85 Minutes


PLOT
A kid named Chris Vale (Scot Nery) watches his mother get raped and murdered by two men with white masks, something his father had set up. Chris tries to get away, but it seen by the killers. One of them shoots a bullet his way, but it hits a pipe that blasts hot steam into Chris' face.

Ten years later, Chris is locked inside of a mental institution burned without recognition. The kind orderlies decide to boost Chris' self esteem by making fun of him while wearing similar masks that his mother's killers had worn. Chris decides to murder these idiot orderlies and escapes the asylum.

Now a fugitive, Chris decides to head back to his childhood home. What he doesn't know is that the house is the location of a Halloween party hosted by David (
Derek Osedach), who is planning a prank to scare his guests. Unfortunately for David, Chris has murdered one of his friends (Nicholas Daly Clark) and has taken his costume as a disguise - leading to the guests believing he's their friend. This allows Chris to murder guests one by one, making this HALLOWEEN NIGHT one these characters won't forget. I'll probably be forgetting about it two weeks from now though.

REVIEW

I was very hesitant to watch The Asylum's HALLOWEEN NIGHT. Judging by the film's cover and the official synopsis, I was not looking forward to another film about a mental patient who escapes to kill people in his hometown. It's also supposedly based on a true story, although I'm not sure what the ratio between truth and fiction is. Surprisingly though, HALLOWEEN NIGHT is not a rip off of John Carpenter's classic 1978 "slasher", despite killers in white masks and the whole escapee mental patient deal. HALLOWEEN NIGHT is more inspired by several slasher films, trying to turn something old into something new. And while the film isn't terrible, there's still a lot to be desired by this Asylum production.

The screenplay, written by Fangoria editor Michael Gingold, isn't the best script I've ever seen play out - but it's not the worst either. The main narrative plays out pretty much as one would expect from a film like this. You get the killer's tragic backstory. The killer escapes a mental institution and heads to his hometown wearing a mask. You get one-dimensional characters who are nothing but cannon fodder. You get a twist ending. HALLOWEEN NIGHT plays out exactly as you'd expect it to. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It plays to its conventions well enough and the film is easy to follow on the surface. Sometimes you just want a slasher film to be a slasher film, without any self-referential stuff to make itself feel smart.

Instead of just ripping off HALLOWEEN like it could have, HALLOWEEN NIGHT takes things from several past slasher films. Chris Vale being a killer burn victim reminded me of THE BURNING. The killer murdering people who are in his home is sort of similar to HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. And the Final Girl isn't killed by Vale due to some necklace that belonged to his mother, similar to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. This film isn't as good as most of the films mentioned, but it's a nice homage.

However, I wish the script was stronger and written better. Is it entertaining for the most part? In a disposable way, sure. But there are a lot of issues that will make one scratch their heads. The main one, for me personally, had to be Chris Vale's motivation to murder. What I'm trying to say is - WHY was he killing people? Who was he getting revenge on? Just because someone is mentally unhinged doesn't mean that he's going back to his house to kill people. Yes, a slasher film needs slashing by some deranged killer. But Jason Voorhees wanted revenge on camp counselors over his drowning and the death of his mother. Freddy Krueger wanted revenge on the Elm Street children for what their parents did to him. Michael Myers was just a force of evil that was the local Boogeyman. What's Chris Vale's excuse? There's nothing about this character that's interesting. You want a villain you can somewhat identify with as a character in terms of his motives. You don't get that here at all.

Also, the dialogue isn't that great. It's pretty generic stuff and doesn't really flesh out the characters all that much. For older characters, they behave pretty childish and don't sound as mature as horror characters should sound. The dialogue should have fleshed out the characters a bit. I don't need three-dimensional protagonists in a slasher film, but they should be beyond stereotypes so we can care about them. Besides maybe a couple of them who showed personalities, Chris Vale could have killed them all off and it wouldn't have made much of a difference to me. I get that Gingold wanted to pay homage to past slasher films - and as an editor of a famous horror magazine, I know he understands the genre extremely well. But it felt pedestrian to me and I wasn't really invested in much at all.

The highlight of the film has to be the death scenes. They're not masterful or anything, but at least they are stimulating eye candy. In fact, for a low budget flick, I thought the execution of the death sequences were handled very well. We get a lot of blood and cool effects that I was not expecting at all. A lot of them involved an axe. An axe to the spine. An axe to the face. A sword through the skull. A hanger to the eye. Even some nicely filmed slit throats as well. The special effects team did well when it came to showing the "gore". I do wish the burnt look to Chris Vale looked better. He looked like a California Raisin rather than a burn victim. Just my two cents.

The direction by Mark Atkins wasn't terrible either. HALLOWEEN NIGHT looks like it was shot on a small DV camcorder, but it looked nice enough. The editing was good, especially during the kill scenes. The establishing shots of the locations around the Vale house were nice looking. Countless scenes involving lesbian sex and boobs definitely helped the entertainment portion of the movie. I wish the film had more tension and suspense. But it's not a terribly directed film and I felt the visual presentation told the story well enough.

The acting in HALLOWEEN NIGHT is a mixed bag. Rebekah Kochon was pretty good as Shannon. She's been in a couple of The Asylum's horror offerings, and I thought she handled her role well. Scot Nery was decent as Chris Vale, playing the awkwardness of the role well. Sean Durrie was likeable as the geeky Larry. I wish he had more to do. Jared Michaels played the bad boy well as Darryl. Again, he should have had more to do. The only actor I had any real issue with was Derek Osedach as David. I was confused as to how to deal with his strange line reading. He would mumble lines, and stutter at times, almost as if he was trying to act as if he didn't rehearse from a script. It was just odd and I wasn't sure whether to laugh, or roll my eyes at how bad it came across. I know Osedach has directed and produced stuff for The Asylum. Maybe he should stick to behind-the-scenes stuff rather than perform in front of it.

THE FINAL HOWL
While HALLOWEEN NIGHT wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be, it didn't wow me either. The screenplay left me cold for the most part with an interesting killer, bland characters, and generic dialogue. However, the acting was decent, the direction was fine for what it was, and the death sequences/special effects were handled better than I would have imagined. HALLOWEEN NIGHT is an okay slasher film by The Asylum, but I probably won't watch it again any time soon. I'll stay in Haddonfield, Illinois for my Halloween fix.



SCORE
2 Howls Outta 4




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