Tales Of Halloween


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Tales Of Halloween
"A great film to watch with horror-loving friends, to see who you can spot."

The nights are drawing in, the pumpkins are coming out and there's an increasing number of horror films about. Yes, it's coming up for Halloween, and that means it's time for cinematic anthologies designed to make you shudder. Tales Of Halloween is guaranteed to grab the attention of horror fans, with some popular genre directors and a cast list that includes five decades' worth of talent.

Like all such collections, it's uneven. Fifties style tales of cute kids led astray can only entertain for so long. Kids as killers perhaps shocked once or twice, about 45 years ago, but these days it's hardly enough to raise an eyebrow. Several of these tales seem to hinge on the idea that all a short film needs is a single idea; in fact, even with strong ideas, that's rare. Lacking complexity, meaningful character arcs or twists, these simple tales are about as entertaining as the scary stories ten year olds exchange at sleepovers. But they're not alone.

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About halfway through, the collection suddenly takes a much darker turn with a tale based loosely on Hansel And Gretel. It doesn't lose its playful spirit, but that only makes its reflections on domestic violence more disturbing. The pace picks up from here and there are another couple of genuinely creepy tales, though overall the film could benefit from venturing more often into dark territory instead of relying on kitsch and gore. Getting away with the latter approach requires going all out, which only really happens in a couple of places, as in an enthusiastic battle between suburban rivals determined to outdo one another's seasonal displays. Tying it all up at the end is a cute creature feature with a killer pumpkin, stronger for the po-facedness of its human stars.

There are some great cameos along the way including a turn from Lin Shaye, whose work in Insidious has left her with a natural authority as a teller of creepy tales. Barbara Crampton flexes genre muscles recently exercised in We Are Still Here and there's an entertaining appearance by the great John Landis as a millionaire with no sympathy or the men who tried to extort his money. Appearances like this do a lot to liven up proceedings and make this a great film to watch with horror-loving friends, to see who you can spot. You'll also get to enjoy numerous snippets from Night Of The Living Dead, which various characters are watching on TV in the small town where the stories are set.

These are not, collectively, the best horror shorts out there, but if you're looking for something fun to kick ff your Halloween party, you could do a lot worse.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2015
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An anthology of short horror tales set in a sleepy American suburb one Halloween night.

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet

Writer: Axelle Carolyn, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, Clint Sears, John Skipp

Starring: Lin Shaye, Pollyanna McIntosh, John Landis, Adrienne Barbeau, Greg Grunberg

Year: 2015

Runtime: 111 minutes

Country: US

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