All Hallows’ Eve (2016)

all-hallows-eve“All Hallow’s Eve” is the fiftieth movie involving Halloween in the last five years named “All Hallow’s Eve” but this time it’s more of a low budget Disney-lite family film. Its Harry Potter meets “Halloweentown” in one of the more painfully derivative and hokey attempts to build a franchise around a teen witch in a long time. It’s not to say “All Hallow’s Eve” is terrible, but it’s a movie that has way too many ideas and not enough of a budget or script to help realize them. So characters spend a lot of time sitting around and explaining things, rather than allowing us to bask in the awe of magic and fantasy. In “All Hallow’s Eve,” Lexi Giovagnoli plays Eve Hallow. No seriously.

Eve is a young girl still reeling from the untimely death of her mother and spends a lot of time doting over her younger brother and sister. Tasked with also potentially running her widowed dad’s business, Eve is shocked to learn that on her birthday, which falls on Halloween, she’s to fulfill her destiny as a witch. She descends from a long line of witches, all of whom are granted powers. Sometimes, those witches become evil. While learning about her powers, Eve accidentally conjures the spirit of her evil aunt DeLayna, and she begins wreaking havoc on Eve’s home town. Once again, a lot of the action involves the characters sitting down and providing a ton of exposition. It’s fairly obvious the film lacks the inherent budget for the fantasy and supernatural, so much of the special effects are TV quality, at best.

And I mean syndicated TV quality from the mid-nineties. It’s a shame, too, since the cast are all talented and could have lifted the material. Ashley Argota, and John DeLuca are charismatic performers, and the great Dee Wallace even has a walk on role as a plot device. Martin Klebba is also very good as Eve’s sidekick Barnaby. Sadly, the writing is so derivative and clumsy that no one ever really feels fleshed out or interesting. For example, we’re supposed to feel frightened when Aunt DeLayna takes Eve’s sister Jessa hostage in the finale. But we only meet Jessa for two minutes in the movie, so it’s not much of a high stakes situation. Her brother is another character who has two lines of dialogue and appears briefly in the climax, so how are we supposed to be engaged in this family?

The ideas of a pet that is really a sentient sidekick called a “Familiar,” destiny and fate, and a dead parent whose death was some kind of element in helping our heroine realize her own future, are so redundant. The movie uses these derivative concepts as a crutch and never demands much attention from the audience, in the end. I was hoping “All Hallow’s Eve” would end up being this unique bit of fantasy fare, but it’s just ninety minutes of clichés and lame plot twists.