REVIEW BY JIM LACZKOWSKI (VOICES & VISIONS)
Good intentions can sometimes save a movie even if the follow-through isn’t entirely satisfying. There are many out there that defend nostalgic throwbacks like IT and BEYOND THE GATES, but both left me wanting more as a whole. Part of me thinks I’m a demanding viewer of horror or that the genre sometimes fills me with less enthusiasm as I age. What it ultimately comes down to is the feeling I get once the closing credits emerge. Sadly, the one I felt here was mostly accompanied with eye-rolling. There’s just something that certain filmmakers don’t get right, and that’s building off tropes and homage to make something that stands out in a way that is ultimately satisfying. Sure, you can recruit John Carpenter’s font and even his compositions as a composer, and heck, you can even stunt cast Eric Roberts and Peter Jason for kicks and cameos, but there needs to be a hook other than one we’ve seen countless times before. This time, it’s the wish gone wrong.
THE TERROR OF HALLOW’S EVE follows teenage outcast Tim on his journey to enact a bit of Halloween revenge. Tim is like a lot of us who grew up with a passion for all things dark and deadly. He plays pranks on other kids to scare them, lying in the grass with fake guts plastered to his torso. We see him picking up the latest issue of FANGORIA at the local store, crushing on the girl behind the check-out counter (who’s way out of his league), and having the living shit beaten out of him by the high school jocks. And when he goes home, he argues with his mother, who’s just another person in the long line of people who don’t understand him despite trying. At one point she begs her son not to make prank phone calls because they could “lose their home.” I would say that the majority of the dialogue here is akin to that, a bit difficult to swallow and the lead actor portraying Tim doesn't deliver anything with much conviction or range.
At one point, Tim says to himself “Woah that was weird,” which reminded me of the kind of cheesy horror movies I made with my friends in high school. Then once the shift from typical teen angst melodrama mixed with bully horror begins, you can’t help but think of the other films that take on some kind of manifestation of pure evil. Whether it’s WISHMASTER or even the more recent WISH UPON, once the manifestation appears, I simply kept hoping for some spark of imagination even when it comes to exacting revenge. The Trickster does little to distinguish himself. Unfortunately, every buildup simply amounted to one letdown after another for me even with the welcome use of practical effects. When all was said and done, I likened this loosely autobiographical tale to a weak TALES FROM THE CRYPT or GOOSEBUMPS episode and nothing more.