Movie Review: “The Day After Halloween”

Let’s get an early EARLY jump on Halloween by breaking the rules. Let’s put “The Day After Halloween” out in August. Just like “Easter Sunday!”

It’s a no budget indie horror comedy that makes “breaking the rules” one of its guiding principles, after all.

Characters aren’t identified by name. The narrative is chopped up into literally dozens of scenes inter–titled with a countdown clock — “11 hours, 23 minutes” before and “two hours” etc after, with a whole subplot/flashback set roughly “2 years, 3 months and 24 days before.”

We see how characters meet, or preps for a years-before Halloween party near the local drive-in on a couple of timelines. But again, characters aren’t identified — just a couple of them, and only in an imaginary police interrogation they discuss as they’re about to dismember a dead woman identified as “The Corpse.”

This is of course comic, as The Corpse (Aimee Fogelman) may have “bite marks” you-know-where. Then again, maybe she doesn’t, a matter for comic debate. She’s dead in the bathtub. And even though she’s the long-time girlfriend of one of the slovenly louts — the one NOT nicknamed “Fat John McClane” in a “Die Hard” joke with a hint of “Do some sit-ups” built in — we do not hear her name or pick up on any remorse or grief for her passing, although there is some hesitation in pursuing the course of “chopping her up.”

The movie doesn’t name any women. They are sex objects who are bizarrely compliant, this being rural Pennsylvania, basically here to serve male characters with little that explains their pairing up. Well, aside from the director saying “She’s hot, let’s hire her.” And one is supposed to be a vampire, so what she’ll got through to get a little neck could entail a heavy dose of demeaning.

“Misogynistic?” Extremely so. But it’s a boys’ movie and a comedy so let’s not dwell on that.

What star and screenwriter Danny Schluck, director Chad Ostrom & Co. were going for is a kind of 30ish “Clerks” set in a backwater drive-in.

That could work.

Hayes (Brandon Delany) sort of runs it, his buddy Addison (Schluck) sort of helps. The frame of the story is a closing-for-the-season last hurrah of horror movies (35mm cannisters of “Night of the Living Dead” and “From Dusk Til Dawn” are unloaded) at the old Mahoning, with heavy drinking, Oct. 31 costumes and one dorky customer who doesn’t seem to get in the spirit of things.

Over many timelines pointing to “The Day After” that particular Halloween, we see how Hayes met The Corpse, efforts to unroll plastic sheeting to prevent damage to the carpet before a previous Halloween rave at Addison’s inherited farmhouse, the deadpan reaction of the two bros to finding The Corpse Girlfriend in the tub and a lot of goofy interactions with others and random male-bonding discussions of women, their sex lives and such.

Addison, aptly insulted with the “Die Hard” reference, prefers younger women.

“Who should I be preying on, older women? They’re brutal beasts fueled by white wine and a lifetime of pilates.”

Some of the one-liners land, a few scenes play as half-amusing.

But the chop-chop-choppy narrative trick of scores of “this is 4 hours after the death” or “two years” before it wrecks the flow of the story, such as it is.

There’s probably some heroic yarn to how hard this was to make, and how long it took. It isn’t just a haircut or beard here and there that suggests “they must’ve worked on this for years.” Maybe not. Maybe it’s just bad lighting and unflattering photography that makes characters almost unrecognizably different in later scenes.

You kind of root for scruffy little no-budget horror pictures like this to come off. But often as not, you’re cheerleading in vain.

Rating: unrated, violence, drug abuse, sex, profanity

Cast: Danny Schluck, Aimee Fogelman, Brandon Delany, Victoria Meade, Joe Lazenby

Credits: Directed by Chad Ostrom, scripted by Danny Schluck. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:24

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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