Anthology movies are a dying breed; the days of
Finding good ones is becoming more of a chore, at least in the mainstream world; low-budget indie filmmakers are still fanning the flames of this beloved format, and you need look no further than 2013's All Hallows' Eve
for proof. Written and directed by Damien Leone and produced by Jesse Baget of Wrestlemaniac
fame, it was a throwback to cheap 80s horror movies, complete with practical makeup/gore FX, a tacky synth score, and a mean streak a mile wide.
The three stories all had one common link: Art the Clown, the designated boogeyman with high creep factor (because as we all know, clowns are creepy). All Hallows' Eve had charm to spare and the grinning, sadistic Art made it all worthwhile.
Two years later, a sequel arrives. Leone gets replaced with an entire roster of directors and Art is ditched for a pumpkin-masked killer repeating the M.O. of terrorizing the resident bimbo in the wraparound who sits down to watch these shorts on tape.
This one has an obviously higher budget and a more polished look, but with nine shorts spread out over 90 minutes, some of them are in and out so quickly they can't make a clear impression, playing out as mere setups for grotesque punchlines; see Bryan Norton and Antonio Padovan's Jack Attack, which will probably put people off pumpkin carving for good. Rather than go the splatter route of its predecessor, this one wants to get by mostly on mood.
Just like any anthology, some of these quick tales work and others don't. Jay Holden's Descent, about a paranoid woman trapped in an elevator, ends on a clever twist, and there's some disturbing implications to brothers James and Jon Kondelik's ABCs of Death 2 hopeful M is For Masochist. Finally, Argentina's Andrés Borghi delivers Alexia; its social media-centered setup definitely kills the whole "80s-style-horror-on-VHS" vibe, but it's still pretty effective. And so on; it's just a matter of picking favorites.
If there is one thing missing from this sequel, it's a murderous powder-faced clown. Art was the (blackened) heart and soul of part one, unifying its three tales into a cohesive whole. The guy was legitimately scary and off-putting, and here is replaced by a mute Halloween cast-off with way too big shoes to fill. Art's absence is so great, you wonder why this was even made a sequel in the first place.
If part one was the politically incorrect 80s horror yarn, this one is the 90s version, the time when the genre was trying new things and still trying to figure itself out. In true anthology fashion, there are some gems waiting to be discovered, and as a window as to what's currently being made in the indie horror world, it fits the bill.
However, if they're planning a third sequel, Art needs to come back and show the pretenders how scaring others is really done.
All Hallows' Eve 2 is out on DVD and Digital Video on 2 February via RLJ Entertainment. Visit this link for more information.