Reviewing horror anthologies isn’t the easiest task, because you must assess a collection of shorts as a functioning whole. Even if the opening segment is tremendous, one must compare the complementing tales against their other competitors as a final product, no matter how much the comparison hurts. All Hallows Eve 2 is a perfect example of wasted potential thanks to a few middling entries, as opening excitement slowly dies in an inexplicably dull finale that slaughters what little momentum remains. It’s the kind of film you try so hard to love, but thanks to an extremely mixed-bag result, better efforts are dragged down by their incomparable brethren.
To boil such a varied film down to simple generics wouldn’t do each filmmaker justice, but it’s worth noting that All Hallows Eve 2 borrows directly form the VHS franchise, as a bored female picks up an ominous VHS tape laying on her doorstep. This is the wraparound glue tying each segment together, except the shorts simply play on with only a fuzzy screen in between each one.
In other words, continuity is rendered completely irrelevant.
The best moments come from the anthology’s first shorty, “The Jack Attack.” A typical babysitter helps her young trick-or-treater carve a Jack-O-Lantern, gutting the plant for harvested goodies. She cooks the pumpkin’s seeds for a snack, which end up growing into fully-sprouted veggies in the stomachs of their victims. Gory explosions ensue, as vines shoot out of open wounds, and All Hallows Eve 2 starts itself off with a bloody, vicious bang.
Regrettably, the other shorts fail to follow suit. It’s not until an effort starring Bill Oberst Jr., titled “Masochist,” that we’re drawn back into the Halloween devilishness. The little diddy runs as a few brief minutes, but the simple thrills of this carnival-game-gone-haywire make for a despicable test of wits. While visibly cheesy, the themes of “Masochist” leave something more for viewers to chew on, and comparatively, the short stands as one of the more favorable horror treats left for audiences to gobble up.
Elsewhere, we’re presented an Unfriended copycat, a sacrificial snoozer, and a boogeyman who never materializes. These are all the epitome of lame-duck horror shorts, stunted by budgets that never let bigger ideas transform into nightmares. Even with Spring‘s Aaron Moorhead as Director of Photography, “A Boy’s Life” ends as cheaply as it begins, never delivering on the hidden-monster promises so stealthily established. It’s a shame, because brilliant genre ideas are cultivated, but limited capabilities cut off such grander productions that could have been. Yes, I’m looking directly at you “The Offering” and “Last Halloween.”
Much like Tales Of Halloween, segments are kept short and sweet. Unlike Tales Of Halloween, though, these short stories are constructed by inexperienced genre hopefuls who see the anthology platform as a launching point. Something like “Mr. Tricker’s Treat” teases ample intrigue, but as the rocket-fueled segment speeds along, we realize there’s no weight to such a one-note story, and before enthusiasm can be curbed, we’re on to the next equally disappointing entry. “Descent” is the only bedtime story that properly builds into something more sinister, as the other filmmakers safely stay connected to an incubated idea that never hatches into a larger mindfuck. This is Horror 1o1, never crafted into a higher-level project.
As a genre fan, I wish I could recommend All Hallows Eve 2. Terrifying anthologies have every right to succeed, and spooky filmmakers should enjoy manipulating such a medium to scare audiences with off-the-cuff nightmares. That said, studios have no right to repurpose what appear to be minimal, proof-of-concept shorts for such an entertaining task, but with similar collections finding unexpected success, it’s no surprise that low-budget alternatives exist. All Hallows Eve 2 is built on good intentions, but this is a horror anthology that just doesn’t demand the same modicum of quality we deserve.
All Hallows Eve 2 is a horror anthology with the right spirit, but well-wishing only gets you so far.