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All Hallows' Eve (2013)

Unlike most anthologies of recent years, Damien Leone takes the helm for every segment in this film as well as the wrap around story. Not only does he direct but he writes, edits and also does the Special FX's works too. This all stems from the first and final segments of the anthology, which he already had as shorts films. He was later approached with the intention of having them included in this feature, to which Leone asked to take over the full project - something that would not only put him on the map but his dreadfully creepy creation Art the Clown too. This is a very low budget indie project that's serves more as a showcase for Leone capabilities as an artist and horror film maker than a consecutively constructed anthology. Granted, there is an overarching plot that provideds reasoning for the shorts to be played, yet it never quite feels justifiable in relation to the stories we see. Given how strong the concept of the anthology is and the plot of a strange VHS tape being gifted to the young 'trick or treater' on Halloween night, it just never comes full circle in my opinion. I guess I was just expecting some form of stronger link to the shorts we see. Annoyingly, the main actress from this story is not very convincing in her role. Every time she was on screen and tries to convey any type of emotions, such as fear or discomfort I felt myself completely taken out of the moment. The first segment is where we are first introduced to Art the Clown. This was filmed years prior to the rest of the film, which would explain the slight difference in Arts make up later on. This first initial story was a short film called 'The 9th Circle' that Leone would then go on to use and write the rest of the film around, using Art as the anchor point of the rest of the shorts and the wrap around story. I did enjoy this for the brief moments we see Art on screen, yet everything after that point felt extremely amateur and un interesting. There is some creative uses of practical make-up that I can appreciate, but other than that I felt rather unfulfilled by the direction in which it took. The second segment for me is the weakest of the three and I found very little interest in its story. Once once the alien itself was revealed it felt borderline comical, looking very much like something you would purchase from a cheap fancy dress shop. The most disappointing thing about this is that it is filmed very competently. Had more care and attention been invested into the the design of the alien, I think it could have been an entertaining segment. Maybe even not showing the creature on screen at all would have had more impact, a good example of less is more. The third and final segment is the strongest, having Art the Clown become the sole focus of the plot. This too is another short that Leone made in 2011 called 'Terrifier'. Art is played by Mike Giannelli here, yet would later go on to be replace by David Hoard Thornton for the stand-alone Terrifier film, that would be released just three years later. Personally, I think Giannelli does a fantastic job. He is extremely intimidating, and genuinely terrifying in this role. His silence only amplified his creepy nature, having a very exaggerated mime-like persona. This is by far the most violent and gory story of the anthology, seeing Art decapitate a gas station attendant and later in the closing moment mutilate and dismember the still alive "final girl". This is all done practically and looks incredibly realistic. For all its flaws, I do think this film creates some moments of genuine fear and tension - more so the intertwining story, that loosely ties everything together and final segment - both of which heavily feature Art the Clown. Although minimal in actual scares, this film overall does a great job of slowly building tension and anticipation for what's to come. Given what was achieved here (and for the small budget of just $500,000), I strongly believe Leone has earn his cult following amongst fans of the genre and I'm excited to see what he brings in future projects.


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