There’s something creepy going on in Canada, and I don’t mean their love affair with vinegar and mayo October 30th: All Hallows Eve, is the nightmarish dream from first time writer/director Ryan Byrne. Byrne also portrays Ethan, a sadistic filmmaker set on recreating the satanic killings committed by his grandfather. The family has issues to put it lightly.
October 30th, has a cabinet full of classic 80’s horror trappings; cabins in the woods, drug use, sex, moronic twenty somethings, and an ancient legend of devilish inspiration. In many ways, this is an homage to many 80’s slasher films, right down to the John Carpenter-ish soundtrack.
The cast is made up of newbies, and while most of the characters are horror stereotypes, they play their roles well and are up for the task. Actress Ariella Arbus, who plays Jade, the star of Ethan’s killing spree masked as a film, is particularly good, especially when she finally has to embrace her “scream queen” status.
Byrne’s script is stuffed with films of horrors past easter eggs, but is original enough to carry, and dredge up some new terrors. A few wink-winks get tossed in for good measure as well. The film is split into two acts; the prologue of the grandfathers killing spree and the disappearance of young Sarah, and the present day, film production arc with Ethan and co. running around the same territory. The legend of the White Witch is interwoven throughout for continued continuity.
There are some genuine spooky moments here, especially in the first act with the grandfather and towards the end when Ethan’s plan becomes clearer. I thought some of the dialogue could be trimmed up, and the run time an hour-forty felt a bit long. But Bryrne juggles it well enough.
Heavy with atmospheric fright, October 30th is a solid low-budget indie horror flick, even if it’s light on the gore. This is a scheduled first installment in the “White Witch” trilogy; her presence is felt but she’s plays more in the background, leaving Byrne plenty of room to dance with her legend in the future releases.
October 30th isn’t a perfect film. It contains many faults that we’ve come to see in rookie filmakers, but it contains a lot of crooked smile charm and creep appeal horror fans love. For me, I’d be more than willing to take a walk back into these dark Canadian woods.
The flick is currently making the indie horror circuit above the border, not sure on VOD release, check their website, http://www.october30thfilm.com, for more details.
– Ben J Duff – Slap Jaw Punks