JANUARY 9, 2012
With a name like Hallowed, this film is bound to end up next to/in front of a very important genre classic on a DVD rack – but that didn’t really cross my mind until the movie began, as the score seemed more than a tad influenced by Carpenter’s iconic cues. How naïve I was; this movie is actually pretty much a full length version of an in-jokey reference to the film, something that might annoy me on another day, but since real life has been such a giant asshole of late (financial/car issues), the earnestness of the whole thing was kind of charming.
See, after an opening kill and a lengthy, unnecessarily padded opening titles sequence that alerted me to the fact that this film was going to be the type that stretches itself to the bare minimum requirement to be called a feature film, we see a low angle shot of a street along with a title card giving the name and town (Fullerton, CA). “Heh, like in Halloween,” I thought. “Cute.” Then the main character/killer appeared, riding his bike around – and he drives right by the Doyle house. Before I could even finish my thought as to whether or not this was intentional, he drives by the Myers house! Now, to anyone who’s been there, you’d know those houses aren’t even in the same town (the Doyle’s is in West Hollywood, unlike the other Pasadena locales), so obviously they were LITERALLY going out of their way to give Carpenter’s film some love. As the scene progressed he even drives by the Strode house (which looks exactly the same) and the bush that Michael hid behind while Laurie and Annie were walking home.
And there are other things; certain shots are aped from the film, the killer likes to pop up like Myers… there’s even a montage of shots showing empty locations after he disappears near the end of the movie. Along with the music, you’re never more than a few minutes from another Halloween reference, and unlike most bad movies where I say “I’d rather just be watching that”, I’ve seen Halloween probably 100 times in my life – I could use the break. Besides, their own story wasn’t that similar, and they pull off a pretty great third act shock that I didn’t see coming, so it’s all good.
Plus it’s short. As I’ve mentioned a couple times, I’m all about Skyrim right now, so watching my HMADs cuts into how much time I spent crafting leather bracers and smiting the hell out of bandits with my awesome battle axe (45 dmg, 14 pts fire damage!). So I was happy to see that Hallowed had a Netflix envelope listed runtime of a mere 85 minutes, and even happier to see that the disc itself promised only 80. Thus, the fact that the movie was actually only 71 minutes (!) was nothing short of orgasmic. Hallowed filmmakers – your refusal to add a character or two or even slow down your end titles to hit the promised 80 minutes meant I was able to dick around looking for ore veins in the cave I was clearing. Bless you.
Of course, if you have no love for Halloween I don’t have much faith that you’ll be as entertained as I was. The story is RIDICULOUS and under-developed even by slasher standards – basically this guy wants to spread the word of God and decides to “save” this one girl at random (maybe in the sequel we will learn they were brother and sister), and this very occasionally means he will kill someone else along the way. Why he chose her, how often he does this, why he needs to kill her friends… none of this seems to matter. He also doesn’t do a lot of stalking – considering their nearly psychotic love of Halloween, I was a bit shocked to see so few scenes of him kind of playing around with his victims or even POV shots. He does the Myers-style “standing there and then he’s gone” thing once or twice, but that’s pretty much it.
The low body count can probably be attributed to Halloween as well, but it could also be due to the movie’s obviously spotty production. Our two main characters change hairstyles more than once (the film was shot over 6-7 months), and the guy playing the killer is noticeably “Bela’d” in a few scenes. At one point he gives the girl a bible, but the entire scene plays without seeing his head because it’s a different actor (I noticed this BEFORE it was confirmed on the commentary track) – kind of weird for one of the few scenes that actually moves the “plot” along. And there are other disjointed scenes that the commentary will reveal were added later to make the movie longer, which is kind of depressingly hilarious when you consider that it’s still technically too short.
Oh, and the killer talks. Not a lot, thankfully, but actor Rich Lava (come on, that cannot be a real name) is pretty terrible, delivering a performance that falls somewhere between Eric Freeman and the robot from Rocky IV. This could be taken as campy, but with the occasionally vicious kills and that aforementioned shock, this isn’t really a “fun” slasher, and even if it was, he doesn’t talk ENOUGH to ever get used to it. Thus when he appears and says something, it’s just jarring and bad. I’m not sure if they fully explained what happened to him on the commentary (all I heard was “we lost him 3/4s of the way through the shoot” – which could mean anything given the lengthy production), but I couldn’t help but wonder if the actor that played him the rest of the time would have been better.
The commentary is hit or miss; director Rocky Costanzo and producer Roy Thomasson are slightly more candid than I’m used to (one of them points out that he thought another girl was better for the main role but was outvoted, but both of them compliment her good looks more than once), and they’re up front with the obvious replacements and reshoots, but they’re also a bit TOO proud of the movie at times. It’s entertaining enough and they got it finished, so they deserve some praise, but it occasionally turns into a bit of a back-slapping fest, and they also keep referring to their other movies a bit too much for my tastes. And then the confusing ending is given an obnoxious “People have asked us what it means, we leave that up to you” bullshit explanation, adding that they merely thought “it was cool”. No, it merely stopped reminding me of Halloween long enough to say “Why are they referencing Jason Takes Manhattan all of a sudden?”
The only other extra is a somewhat depressing “World Premiere Montage”, which is a slide show of images from the movie’s gala premiere at some multiplex in Huntington Beach, where the film showed alongside such cinematic treasures as The Ringer, Fun With Dick And Jane, and (yes!) Bloodrayne – a film that I can count as *my* first premiere (I won tix from Bloody Disgusting, back before I worked there). There’s also a shot of the attendance sheet, for some reason, as well as the empty theater before people file in. It’s just some standard multiplex stadium screening room, who needs to see a picture of it?
So, yeah. Not much to it, and there’s certainly nothing special about it, but it hit the spot and tickled my Halloween fan-bone. And for 71 minutes I forgot that I might not be able to pay rent next month, so that’s always good. Thanks, Hallowed!
What say you?