The opening of The Terror of Hallow’s Eve feels very familiar. It’s October 30, 1981. Three high school girls walk the suburbs. When separated, a rustle in the bushes leads one of the girls to a trail of blood and, shock horror, a disemboweled corpse! Turns out it’s all an elaborate joke pulled by special effects whizz, and director surrogate, Tim (Caleb Thomas), and Todd Tucker‘s film is far more Trick ‘r Treat than Halloween, although it stands proudly alongside the former as a modern holiday treat.
As Tim‘s monsters start appearing to him, it seems the barrier with the spirit world is indeed thinning around All Hallow’s Eve. And, when a new jester-like creature offers to grant him a wish, Tim can think of nothing better than getting his own back on his bullies. But he‘s playing a dangerous game and The Trickster is determined to take things through to their bloody conclusion.
They’re elements you’ve seen before, but The Terror of Hallow’s Eve presents them in such a sincere and affectionate way. These are characters you care about. Thomas is very good and reminded me of Tom Holland (the Spider-Man one) with a dark side. His relationship with his mom (Sarah Lancaster) is also very well drawn and their chemistry is strong. On the other side, creature performer legend, Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), is perfect as The Trickster and well served by good makeup effects. He’s this film’s Sam, and hopefully, he is embraced in a similar way to Trick ‘r Treat’s adorable figurehead. The puppet work on some of the other non-humanoid creatures is slightly wonky but charming.
Tucker’s creations feature in inventive haunting scenes, as the bullies’ emotional torture gets bloody. These sequences do get quite dark, resulting in a less joyful film than Trick ‘r Treat. But, like Michael Dougherty’s film, and Halloween for that matter, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve is horror literate. Screenwriter Zack Ward has put together a cool mythology and matches that with a strong command of the rules, which is a touch that I think is always appreciated by horror fans. Tucker also makes the crowd-pleasing call to feature two tracks from John Carpenter’s Lost Themes record.
The Terror of Hallow’s Eve is a horror-loving holiday treat with that will freak you out, if not scare you. An extended epilogue hints at the extent of The Trickster’s influence, and I’d definitely welcome a return to his twisted games.