Black Pumpkin

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Black Pumpkin
"Black Pumpkin is an entertaining romp that will delight horror fans."

A Halloween film coming out two months late, Black Pumpkin is a welcome splash of colour in the 2020 festive season, a slice of playful Eighties style horror that ticks all the right boxes. Directed with verve and energy by newcomer Ryan McGonagle, it tells a tale of teens in peril as the urban legend of Bloody Bobby turns out to be rooted in a terrifying reality.

It's a film that will see many horror fans blaming the parents. If you call your daughters Laurie and Regan, what do you expect? None of it is their fault, of course. It#s their brother Elliot (Dogen Eyeler) and his best friend, Pork Chop (Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick), who go wandering in the woods where they shouldn't, making a film about an area said to be cursed - and the two older boys who like to bully them who make trouble there. As soon as the latter announce their intention to hold a party up there on the 30th of October, taking along two of Laurie's friends, we know that things are going to go badly for them - but afterwards, when the sinister figure they have awakened turns its attention to the town, no-one is safe.

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The names may be familiar and the principal characters archetypes, but they're beautifully played and very easy to engage with. Ellie Patrikios makes a fantastic lead as Laurie, marvellously expressive despite looking, at first, like another of Hollywood's interchangeable young blondes. She also has a lot of muscle packed into her slender frame and uses it to great effect in the action scenes. Kilpatrick also stands out, taking on the traditional comedy fat kid role with so much personality that he effectively becomes the hero. Gemma Brooke Allen gets a great moment as Regan and there's an entertaining yet tragic turn from Curt Clendenin as a survivor of a previous Bloody Bobby attack who has lost all credibility with the local population as a result of his frantic efforts to convince them that the threat is real.

Obligatory gore aside, this is lighthearted stuff, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do well. McGonagle exudes confidence, hitting all the right beats and capturing the atmosphere of the sillier slasher classics perfectly. He's aided by a great selection of tunes. Although it could do with a scarier villain, Black Pumpkin is an entertaining romp that will delight horror fans. If the season of goodwill is getting to you, it's a spirited solution.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2020
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On October 31st, two preteens in a small town accidentally awaken an evil that has lain dormant for decades. They are forced to survive through a terrifying Halloween night of cat-and-mouse.

Director: Ryan McGonagle

Writer: Ryan McGonagle

Starring: Ellie Patrikios, Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick, Matt Rife, Gemma Brooke Allen, Kamilla Alnes, Lily Keene, Connor Weil

Year: 2018

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: US

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