15th Oct2021

‘Halloween Party’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Amy Groening, T. Thomason, Shelley Thompson, Bradley Bailey, Scott Bailey, Jason Daley, Zach Faye, Lisa Hackett, Marletta Laan, Jason Morley, Taylor Olson, Geneviève Steele, Shelley Thompson | Written and Directed by Jay Dahl

Jay Dahl, writer and director of There Are Monsters, is back after a five-year break from the genre with his latest film Halloween Party, an apparent love-letter to the horror films of the 90s and all the baggage associated with the films of the time.

They were known as the ‘Halloween Party’, a group of five badly disfigured children who made a pact to take revenge on a world who couldn’t look at them. Unwittingly released from their closet grave via a Halloween-themed computer meme, they now take malevolent joy in terrorising college students with their worst fears. Can the unlikely pair of bereaved Grace and hacker nerd Spencer stop the virus spreading before its too late? Or will your worst fears – spiders, alcoholic parents, pigs, the Tall Man, exorcists – come to get you too?

How you feel about that particular era of horror filmmaking will very much influence you enjoyment of this film. And so will booze. Lots of booze. You see this pastiche of the era that many horror fans would rather forget (myself NOT included) is not just a pastiche of the very homogenized horror that was filled with pretty faces doing stupid things, it’s also a film that borders – until that very… last…scene (where it tips into full insanity) – on spoof. Not Student Bodies levels of spoof no, but spoof all the same.

So we have cyber-horror, hospital horror, college horror, ghosts, and ghouls. I doubt writer/director Dahl could have crammed any more into this film even if he had tried. But as least he tries. Tries to deliver both a love-letter to, and parody of, the genre films of the 90s – with there overly-contrived plots and lack of real blood and guts. The latter is a point which I think Dahl’s film makes brilliantly, as each kill in Halloween Party seems to be over too soon to satisfy gorehounds. Much like those 90s horror films that were more interested in chasing a teen audience and being PG-13 friendly that actually delivering on the horror and the gore.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Those Canadians know how to do horror, they have since the 70s; and honestly, it’s nice to see a Canadian horror not afraid to take itself seriously, which Halloween Party certainly doesn’t (though Canada can do spoof too, just look at Cannibal Girls). With stilted delivery of ridiculous lines, obtuse behaviour, over-egging the script, over-acting galore this film is fun. Fun with a capital F-U-N. It’s the kind of film made for fans of the genre who know these types of movies inside out – so you can see how cleverly Halloween Party picks apart each cliche and trope from the opening of the film to the end.

Though the aforementioned epilogue really pushes this film from semi-spoof to complete horror absurdity. In the best way possible of course!

**** 4/5

Halloween Party is released on DVD on October 18th, courtesy of High Fliers Films. Pre-order it now at Amazon and help out Nerdly in the process!


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