TV Movie: “The Night Before Halloween”

Malevolent entities. They’re not apparently that bad to encounter. If they were, how could we keep returning to movies about them? Probably the simple fact that there’s something fun about unknown entities terrorizing people. No matter the story, there’s no shortage of fun terror to be had.

The Blue Ice Pictures movie “The Night Before Halloween”, is a decent movie that definitely tries to play on some fears.

This horror movies stars Bailee Madison (Good Witch”, “The Fosters”), Justin Kelly (“Between”, “Lost After Dark”), Jahmil French (“Lead with Your Heart”, “Remedy”), Kiana Madeira (“The Swap”, “Conviction”), Natalie Ganzhorn (“Make It Pop”, “Max and Shred”), Alex Harrouch (“Saving Hope”, “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town”), and Anthony Lemke (“Dark Matter”, “Good Witch”).

The movie was written and directed by Sheldon Wilson (“The Unspoken”, “The Hollow”).

The movie originally debuted on Oct. 29, 2016 on SyFy.

And here it is, the final movie in this wonderfully strange month long celebration known as “31 Days of Halloween”. It’s a step up from the previous two movies, but still doesn’t fully rise to the level that “The Crooked Man” managed to. Regardless, it was still fun enough, that I can be happy with this movie acting as the bookend. Since it’s seems so seldom that a SyFy Original Movie can be fun and a tad scary, I’ll take what this one offered, and call it a win!

The biggest draw with this particular TV movie is the evil entity. It’s not given a name, which is strange all on its own, but that’s okay. Certainly got the creepy thing down even without a name. It’s a swarm of flies. It sounds like flies. It looks like flies. So it must be flies. And, a pretty big plus, the swarm creature, thing (whatever), looks pretty damn good. With the entity being a black swarm, and most of its screen time shrouded in darkness or against a darker background, this wasn’t too hard to accomplish. Thank god for that!

If this digital design hadn’t been as good as it was, I don’t think I would’ve been able to enjoy the movie. That, and I wouldn’t have been afraid of it. Okay, it’s more that the sequences it was featured in, or teased, were done well. There was a tad bit of fear created, and then the character’s themselves were scared out of their minds. Again, not the levels of “The Crooked Man”, but still pretty high up there. Overall, when you think of how a TV movie doesn’t really scare you, this one finds a different way of doing that. Fear of the unknown. It’s apparently a powerful thing.

And then, on the scare front, there were some other decent suspense moments. For me, suspense and slight fear building were the elements that worked best. I particularly liked that opening sequence, which is how the movie’s plot comes into play. I’ll acknowledge, that while it’s not the most original go all ideas, the execution was somehow there. Things seem off in the house, and as Madison and her friends go into the house and explore, everything takes on a supernatural haunting vibe. Doors closing and such. Strange messages. In that whole time, I’d completely forgotten that I knew this all was a prank. Sorry to spoil it for you, but it couldn’t be avoided. It’s a prank, but wasn’t done solely for the sake of being a prank. Regardless, I still bought into it. I’m amazed by that, and that’s what kept my interest for the remainder of the movie.

Scares in this case were good, as well as the creepy entity, because the rest of the movie was built on clichés. As mildly likable as these characters turned out to be, especially as they ran for their lives, it became difficult to take them seriously. To believe that they were that capable of avoiding all sorts of trouble. Take, for instance, a scene at the beginning, where they’re having to lie to the detective. Well, the problem is, they get away with it. The lies they were spinning were so laughable, I’m surprised they could even sort of keep them straight. I just rolled my eyes. Another big sin, when the night before Halloween rolls around once more, they, like so many others before them, can’t fathom that a real person isn’t actually behind this. They insist repeatedly that someone must be responsible. That someone else knows what they did. And yes, I wanted to say, “…last Halloween”, but that was just too forced and I couldn’t make it work. Still, it was another eye rolling moment. I guess these people have never seen scary movies of any sort. And, even though it was for a moment, it defines the whole movie too, so I’ve got to comment on their logic and reasoning. They were willing to risk their friends life, over just calling the cops and saying it was a prank gone wrong. The logic? They had their whole futures ahead. At least Julie, Ray, Helen, and Barry were willing to take the secret to their graves. Definitely more commitment than this group gave.

Malevolent entities don’t need intelligent or truly original plots to exist. All that’s needed is an audience willing to enjoy the silly terrorizing of not so innocent people. In this case, the assholes had it coming, and Madison really proved that towards the end, in a move I thought was somewhat inspired for this type of movie. If done decently enough, there can be loads to enjoy from a TV movie like this. After suffering for the past two weekends, there really was only one direction this movie could’ve gone. Up. With a low bar, but a movie that knew not to take itself serious, it saved this celebration and has (for now) restored my faith in the SyFy Original Movie.

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