New in select theaters and available On Demand and digital download October 11, 2022!
SPIRIT HALLOWEEN: THE MOVIE (2022)
Directed by David Poag.
Written by Billie Bates.
Starring Christopher Lloyd, Rachael Leigh Cook, Marla Gibbs, Brad Carter, Marissa Reyes, Donovan Colan, Dylan Martin Frankel, Jaiden J. Smith, Billie Roy
Jake (Donovan Colan) is at that awkward age where he still loves celebrating things like Halloween, but is beginning to notice girls and deciding whether or not he’s too old to dress up and go trick or treating like he’s done for as long as he remembers. His best friend Carson (Dylan Martin Frankel) is ready to leave that stuff behind and start partying with the big kids, while his other best friend Bo (Jaiden J. Smith) is on the fence. After visiting their local Spirit Halloween store, they come up with the idea to hide in the store past closing time and spending the night in the store alone for a Halloween adventure. Little do they know that the ghost of a greedy old miser named Alex Windsor (played by the incomparable Christopher Lloyd) haunts the lot the Spirit Halloween takes over for the season and takes control of all of the monstrosities that lurk in the aisles of the store. Meanwhile, Jake’s crush/Carson’s older sister Kate (Marissa Reyes) is tasked to look out for these pre-teens, tracks them down, and ends up trapped in the store with the kids with the ghost. Oh and Rachel Leigh Cook plays the middle aged mom of Jake, which makes me feel pretty damn old.
SPIRIT HALLOWEEN: THE MOVIE is a perfectly fine starter horror movie for younger kids. It doesn’t have the teeth of SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. It’s more along the lines of a more vanilla version of MONSTER SQUAD more than anything else. It’s not a particularly bad film. The kids actually talk like kids, not like some forty-year-old writer attempting to guess what the cool kids are saying these days. And while the thrills and shills are relatively harmless and there is hardly a drop of blood dripped, it manages to have a few creepy scares that will make youngsters laugh and scream. Though I was watching much more intense and R-rated horrors at that age (I was a ghoulish child), I think this would work for kids around the age range of seven to eleven years old.
The kid actors are all pretty solid with Marissa Reyes being the best in the bunch. It makes sense because she’s the oldest kid actor in the group. She’s got that Disney kid quality, filled with confidence and energy. I also really liked Jaiden J. Smith (no relation to Will) who plays Bo. He’s got some decent comic timing and has some of the best lines. But none of the kids are outstandingly bad in this, which made it all the more watchable to me. Nothing takes me out of a movie than bad child acting. It was great seeing Christopher Lloyd as the ghost. He appears in the flesh only in the intro and then later narratives a glowing orb that travels from one monster to the next in the store. Hearing his voice took me back to some of his best films and it was another positive going for this movie.
People occasionally look to me for recommendations for all ages horror and, unfortunately, there really aren’t a lot of them—especially lately. I mean, have you seen Rob Zombie’s THE MUNSTERS. Yeech… Most horror films are either too sophisticated and graphic or too dumb and pandering. SPIRIT HALLOWEEN THE MOVIE isn’t going to satisfy the adults looking for a good horror film to watch this season, but it’s all ages horror that is better than most. It’s not too scary, but much better than most kiddie horror films I’ve seen lately.