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ALL HALLOW’S EVE 2 (2015)

Directed by Jesse Baget (wraparound), Bryan Norton & Antonio Padovan (“Jack Attack”), Marc Roussel (“The Last Halloween”), Ryan Patch (“The Offering”), Jay Holben (“Descent”), James Kondelik & Jon Kondelik (“M is For Masochist”),
Elias Benavidez (“A Boy’s Life”), Mike Kochansky (“Mr. Tricker’s Treat”), Andrés Borghi (“Alexia”)
Written by Jesse Baget (wraparound), Bryan Norton & Antonio Padovan (“Jack Attack”), Marc Roussel & Mark Thibodeau (“The Last Halloween”), Michael Koehler (“The Offering”), Jay Holben & Christopher Probst (“Descent”), James Kondelik & Jon Kondelik (“M is For Masochist”), Elias Benavidez (“A Boy’s Life”), Mike Kochansky & Mark Byers (“Mr. Tricker’s Treat”), Andrés Borghi (“Alexia”)
Starring Andrea Monier, Damien Monier (wraparound), Helen Rogers, Tyler Rossell, Steve Anderson Jr., & Brazen the dog (“Jack Attack”), Ron Basch, Emily Alatalo, Angela Besharah, Julian Richings, Brendan Heard, Jake Goodman, Zoe Fraser, Drew Davis, Ali Adatia, Alastair Forbes, Adrian G. Griffiths, Kristina Uranowski (“The Last Halloween”), Bob Jaffe, Jared Mark Smith (“The Offering”), April Adamson, Renee Intlekofer, Robert McLaughlin, Anthony Backman (“Descent”), Bill Oberst Jr., Reno Selmser, Finn Kobler, Zion Healy, Jonathan Nation (“M is For Masochist”), Christie Lynn Smith, Griffin Gluck, Brian Majestic (“A Boy’s Life), Michael Serrato, Carrie Seim, James Markidis, Patrick Logothetti (“Mr. Tricker’s Treat”), Sergio Berón, Pilar Boyle, Paula Carruega (“Alexia”)
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

ALL HALLOW’S EVE 2 is one of the rare instances when the sequel is much more enjoyable than the original. The first ALL HALLOW’S EVE was visually impressive, but the story was all over the place. It tried to tell a straight forward narrative, but felt disjointed as the segments blended into one another and ended up conveying a story that felt muddy and unorganized. It feels like the producers of this film finally got to the bottom of what they were going for and simply did the anthology format in the style of V/H/S. In fact, it’s exactly the same format as V/H/S as a woman receives a VHS tape on her doorstep and dares watch it. All the while a weird man in a pumpkin mask stalks her from outside.

While there’s little to it, the wraparound segment is decently realized, offering up enough scares to start things off and keep things moving. The reaction shots of the woman watching the videos feel unneeded and who has a VHS machine these days anyway. But all in all, a decent hook to hang the rest of the short stories on.

The first segment named “Jack Attack” follows a babysitter (the beautiful and talented Helen Rogers from BODY and V/H/S) who learns a valuable lesson about eating pumpkin seeds. Rogers is great here as the wholesome, but sassy babysitter and there are some fun gory moments by the end.

I actually saw and reviewed “The Last Halloween” a while back. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale with a raving Julian Richings, creepy kids who wander the streets only to turn into what their costumes represent and terrorize those boarded into their homes for real. This is a vivid and exciting short that really packs a punch with it’s cool effects. Plus Richings rants are insanely fun.

“The Offering” is a foreboding tale that feels like just the right amount of a snippet of a horrible world. It’s about a father and son who head to a desolate spot to give sacrifice to a pagan god only to forget the sacrifice of meat. It’s well acted and left me wanting more, which is a good thing. This one is a fun and ominous short.

Dark and psychological, “Descent” is about a woman who witnesses a murder only to find herself trapped in a elevator with him. This one is full of really great moments of tension and has a nice twist ending.

I wanted to like the one note “M is For Masochist” more. Obviously, it was an attempt for the M spot in the ABC’S OF DEATH films that didn’t make it. Horror actor supreme Bill Oberst Jr. does a great and creepy job as a sideshow barker who tempts a group of kids to torture a unique attraction, the Masochist. This one breezes by too quickly to make its mark.

“A Boy’s Life” would be great if not for the fact that it is almost exactly like THE BABADOOK. A small child is afraid of the monsters in his room only to find them confirmed. This short takes a rather heartfelt turn halfway through and the kid is scores less annoying than in THE BABADOOK, but “A Boy’s Life” still offers up a scare or three by the end.

Seems the more comedic shorts in this bunch are the least effective. I get what “Mr. Tricker’s Treat” was going for, but it again went by pretty quickly and was forgettable soon after it was over. This one focuses on a neighborhood weirdo who takes his Halloween decorations deadly serious. Mr. Tricker’s attack on a teenager wearing angel’s costume is pretty fun though.

The final and best short film of the anthology is “Alexia” a Spanish short that hits with about the same visceral gut punch that the MAMA short did a few years ago. The story is simple and not unlike UNFRIENDED (reviewed here) but on a smaller, more personal level. A man decides to finally delete the friendship status of his girlfriend who died a year ago. Turns out, even though she’s dead, she doesn’t like that so much. What makes this short so effective is the tight close-ups that take you too close to the tense moments that are unfolding. Paired with some imagery that is truly harrowing and this is one potent and powerful horror in a small package. I recommend this film simply for this short alone as it is edge of your seaty from start to finish.

Seems someone might have been listening to me as I’ve been saying there are too many amazing short films out there that go unseen by too many people. Anthologies like ALL HALLOW’S EVE 2 takes these shorts and arranges them in an anthology worth checking out. While it has its weaker segments, as a whole, ALL HALLOW’S EVE 2 is a winner and the movie the first film wanted to be.

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