Sometimes there are movies that are just several ideas thrown together culminating to create something sort of cohesive. Most of the time when movies do that, there is nothing even remotely salvageable and it’s just a hot mess. Other times, the ambition and intensity come through as something intriguing and captivating. Chad Ostrom’s The Day After Halloween dances a fine line between these two extremes. It is wildly insane with multiple ideas going through its general story, while intriguing enough to keep audiences engaged, even though there are bound to be plenty of questions after the film ends.
The film bills itself as The Hangover meets the horror genre, and, to an extent, that would be true. The movie decides to abandon a linear model of storytelling and goes for the shock and awe value and then a reverse timeframe to investigate some of the things that the characters have stumbled across. There is a lot going on in the film, and it does somehow come together to create a world that is engaging to its audience, but some of the choices the characters make are more than questionable and don’t make entirely a ton of sense, however there are a few twists and turns that carry the movie throughout the running time.
The film focuses on buddies, Addison (Danny Schluck) and Hayes (Brandon DeLany) as they’re preparing for their annual Halloween tradition consisting of going to the drive-in operated by Addison and then attending an after party. However, things start off on the wrong foot as they find Addison’s now-ex-girlfriend (Aimee Fogelman) dead in their bathtub. Without having any idea of how she died as they’re hungover beyond belief, they’re trying to recreate the night to figure out what happened. Let the chaos begin!
Addison and Hayes cannot, for the life of them, figure out what happened and are debating about what to do with the body. They throw some ideas around and one of their most ridiculous ideas is that they want to chop up the body and spread the parts all over Pennsylvania, because that is the most logical idea when discovering a body of an ex-lover that has foul play written all over it. This is some of the more palatable humour that the movie throws at its audience, and if that is something an audience member likes, then there is certainly something here for you. However, the humour is not always like this. There is a lot more shock-value humour inserted and sprinkled throughout the film which just falls short due to it feeling out of place. Sure, we don’t entirely know these characters and it’s plausible that they’re just generally awful people, but some of the comedy they’re trying to insert into the film is off-putting.
Danny Schluck, who plays Addison and also wrote the film, painted himself into a figurative corner. While he wrote the script, he made Addison arguably one of the most unlikable characters while trying to make him an old bro. His performance misses the mark that it needs to make him likable, coming off as someone who’s just mad at the world and is kind of just living every day with an indifference to life itself. The same can be said for Brandon DeLany’s character of Hayes. He, too, is incredibly unlikable and self-destructive to an extent. However, the saving grace for the acting side of The Day After Halloween is the chemistry that is shared between Danny and Brandon, making them seem like they’ve known each other their entire lives. Their chemistry truly shines and helps fix the lack of logic and likable characters. Overall, The Day After Halloween is a messy non-linear story that has incredibly unlikable characters. It works to an extent and provides some genuine shock value, bringing forth some fun even though it may be cringy.
Available on VOD and digital August 23rd, 2022.
Final Score: 3 out of 5.