12th Sep2019

‘Halloween At Aunt Ethel’s’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Chris Cavalier, Melissa Daddio, Sean Michael Gloria, Jason Henne, Rhyssa-Kathryn Marie, Jovanni Mazzaferro, Lisa Mcconnell, Madeleine Murphy, Kierney Nelson, Stephanie Town, Gail Yost | Written and Directed by Joseph Mazzaferro

halloween-ethels-poster

Joseph Mazzaferro (Scathing) writes and directs this Halloween comedy-horror film about a group of teenagers who are going to find out if the rumours about Aunt Ethel are true. Does she kill and cook the children who knock on her door at Halloween while they trick or treat? Does she make pie and treats out of them? Yikes…

I was easily drawn to this like I’m drawn to any movie that has a Halloween concept. The whole season of good chill is something I’ve been a lover of since I was a kid, dressing up as Dracula and knocking on doors asking for sweets. Halloween films are sometimes absolutely wonderful (Hocus Pocus, Trick R Treat, Halloween, Satans Little Helper) and sometimes they’re… well… not. I was hoping that Halloween At Aunt Ethel’s, like Satan’s Little Helper did many moons ago, surprise me and become a random favourite to watch each October. Did I mention that I love a good Halloween movie? So, did this do the job?

Well… the story itself, while not really that deep, is still a fun idea and I was ready to be in the Halloween spirit when the film began. Still, that familiar look of Autumn that often spills over my screen in movies about the season didn’t really appear, and I was a little disappointed. Still, there were the Halloween decorations on lawns and in windows, so that’s something. The comedy, of which there is a lot here, is pretty damn sophomoric and really daft. I mean, the strong point of this comedy-horror wasn’t the comedy for me, but I can see certain demographics getting more out of that side of things than I did. I personally found the humour difficult to get on with, and it seemed forced. I did like the elements of horror, though, when we got them, and the general mood and look of the film was fine. It’s also worth mentioning that the score, from Mikee Plastik (Rock Bottom Creek) is pretty nice and reminded me of some of the old-school slashers of the 80s at times, and the cinematography from Jason Henne is good.

Let’s talk a bit about the performances, shall we, and the characters themselves. Nobody does a majorly bad job really, but I also struggled to pick out a character than really did a good one either. It is all just either lacking or just okay, but rarely more than that. Chris Cavalier, Melissa Daddio, Gail Yost and Stephanie Town, among others, star in this, and they did fine. I’d be lying to say I wish there was more effort put into building these characters more, and perhaps making them a touch more likeable. I found myself not really caring what happened to them. Oh well.

The low-budget appearance of the film didn’t bother me, and the lack of energy in the performances wasn’t enough to put me off, but the focus more on comedy than on Halloween Horror was a bit of a shame. This could have been much more than it turned out to me. It isn’t bad, and it isn’t a failure, but I wanted to see more of what we got.

A cool idea and some nice production doesn’t really lift Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s above being just a passable comedy-horror film. The Halloween plot falls flat and the performances are often wooden. There’s a place for this somewhere, with someone, but it wasn’t for me, sadly.

Out now on DVD and digital in the US, Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s comes to DVD in the UK on October 21st.

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