Written and Directed by: PJ Starks
Starring: Ben Glenn, Sara Jane Behl, and Todd Reynolds
Reviewed by: Brett G.
The last few months have seen the review of some independent films here at OTH, and I'm back for another round with Hallow's Eve: Slaughter on Second Street, a no-frills slasher film from Verite Pictures. After checking out the trailer online, I was actually pretty excited to check this one out because I'm a sucker for all things slasher, and it looked like this one would deliver everything I'd expect from the sub-genre. Suffice to say, it's difficult to be innovative when it comes to slashers, so I'd hardly expect an independent flick like this one to re-invent the wheel; instead, I only expect to see some good grue, some laughs, and some skin. Shallow expectations? You bet, but only because 99% of slasher films have established such expectations.
Slaughter on Second Street is the premiere haunted house attraction in Owensboro. As the film begins, a few volunteers are putting some finishing touches on the attraction when a seemingly supernatural tragedy strikes, resulting in their death. The attraction is consequently shut down, but not before the owner and operator, Buck Masters, invites a group of ghost hunters to check out the supposedly supernatural events. Arriving on the eve of Halloween, the group of ghost hunters are unexpectedly joined by some of the former volunteers at the attraction. For no discernible reason, the group agrees to be locked in for the night, and this becomes very inconvenient when someone (or something?) begins to systematically slaughter everyone.
Obviously, this one's not breaking any ground in a genre that's been thoroughly explored and exploited for 30 years, but is it still any good? For the most part, yes. The premise itself works, though I would have liked to have seen some more use of the actual amusement itself just to provide some atmosphere. The film also has some pacing issues for the first third or so, but once the slashing gets going, it moves well for the most part. Of course, the film also suffers from other issues that have plagued most slashers since their inception: questionable logic and characters that only serve as fodder, but that comes with the territory.
That said, some of the characters are well done, particularly the aforementioned Buck and the film's requisite stoner duo, Chevy and Dooby, who play off of each other well. There are some points where the comedy feels a bit over-done, but, for the most part, it hits the mark. I know a lot of horror fans aren't too keen on their horror mixing with comedy, but I found myself genuinely amused at times, which is never a bad thing. The other characters are hit or miss, particularly become of some spotty acting that's due to be found in an independent effort, but it's a decent cast overall, and there are some pretty surprising deaths along the way.
Of course, the big question when it comes to any slasher are the deaths and gore, and Hallows Eve delivers fairly well in this department. The blood flows pretty freely, and there's quite a few implements of death used in the carnage. There's one particular scene where a cast member literally spills her guts all over one of her counterparts, which serves as the film's gore highlight. Besides this, there's not much here in the way of horror, as the film doesn't really rely on jump scares or atmosphere. However, I did enjoy the 80s-riffic synth score that added a little bit of tension and mood to some of the scenes.
All in all, this was an enjoyable effort from writer/director PJ Starks. Sure, it often resembles an amateur film, but that's precisely what it is. From a technical standpoint, it's competently put together, though the frame does feel a bit cramped at times despite the use of a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I think Hallows Eve reveals a fair amount of potential here, however, because it gets most of the slasher essentials right. Some might wonder how difficult of a task that really is, but there are plenty of slashers that have gotten it wrong over the years by simply being downright boring. As of right now, the film doesn't even have an IMDB page so I'm not sure if it's going to be readily available anytime soon. In the event that Starks is able to find a distributor, this isn't a bad way to pass 90 minutes if you're a slasher fan. Rent it!
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