By: Hawk Ripjaw (Four Beers) –
A deadbeat dad is a tough burden to carry, especially when your dad is also a remorseless, psychotic serial killer. For Trent (Shannon Brown), he’s spent years trying to escape the fame that comes from being the son of the Bridgeport Butcher (Tom Sizemore). With his dad executed and the dark cloud still hanging over him, Trent makes the snap decision to move to the remote town of Mooseheart with his step brother Joey (Simon Rex), to escape his stigma and meet a girl he saw on a commercial for the town. He does indeed meet her (Michelle Mueller), along with a crooked mayor (Jim O’Heir), his competitor (Ray Wise), a weed dealer (Danny Trejo), and a new roommate, Lloyd (Robert Craighead). When Trent’s identity is revealed and bodies start to show up, people suspect the son of the Bridgeport Butcher. Trent and Joey must figure out how to unmask and stop the Candy Corn Killer.
It’s also nice to see the likes of Danny Trejo, Ray Wise and Jim O’Heir appearing here, with O’Heir in particular sliming it up as a cruel mayor. Most of these veterans do well with their parts, and they’re fun to watch. Even Tom Sizemore cameos as the killer getting executed at the beginning of the film, and is reliably Tom Sizemore-y for his brief part. Of the core lesser-known actors, Jayson Bernard is by far the most fun to watch as a jealous, sneering, toothpick-chomping ex-boyfriend.
One of the best scenes in the movie involves a group of friends getting together and telling the most frightening horror story they can. We don’t actually hear the stories themselves, because as soon as a character starts talking, a catchy instrumental Halloween-flavored tune kicks in as the storyteller gesticulates at a horrified-looking circle of listeners. It’s a sharply-edited, energetic scene and a lot of fun.
There are a good number of chuckle-worthy jokes here, but they’re kind of lost in everything else. The biggest problem is that some gags have no place in the movie. Lloyd spends nearly all of his scenes smoking weed and serving as a brief expository refresher on the killer that may or may not be terrorizing the town, and then towards the end, is pushing a cart of candy, helping the friends solve the mystery… and flashing kids. The latter comes completely out of left field, and probably would have still been in poor taste even if it was explained better than an early shot of a room with a handcuff-equipped baby’s crib.
Others have some value but feel unceremoniously dropped in. There’s a character named Brittany, who everyone hates for some reason (“Shut the fuck up, Brittany” comprises more than half of the lines spoken at her), but this is never built upon, and the reasoning for tormenting her is never explained.
Tom Sizemore is probably the best part of the movie–and when the bodies start showing up, it’s suggested that he might be back even after his execution scene. He doesn’t return, which is mildly disappointing given that his scene sends the movie screaming out of the gate as it dials the weird factor up to 11. It’s a level of energy that the rest of the movie aspires to but rarely achieves.
There’s a bizarre tempo to the comedy of Halloweed. Punchlines come and go, but often at the wrong time. Jokes are nestled between more serious lines of dialogue that feel like they might have been jokes at some time but got muddled somewhere between writing and delivery. In fact, joke delivery, in general, feels off, particularly with the three main actors, which makes some of the comedic lines feel like they aren’t meant to be funny and the dramatic ones feel like they should. The truly dramatic lines are delivered with very little conviction, as though they’re reluctant beats between the comedic bits.
The pacing in general just feels off, as if the movie started as an anthology piece of a full-length sketch collection before someone decided to just mash them all together and add a through-line. It probably would have worked better as one of the former.
Halloweed feels specifically engineered for potheads. Having watched it twice, once with assistance and once without, I can confirm that it makes more sense and is more fun after a couple of rips off the bong. Without it, the movie feels frustratingly disjointed and meandering. When you don’t have to really think about what’s going on, it’s easy to just go with it.
Getting high won’t just make it more oddly enjoyable; it’s compulsory. It deserves a disclaimer stating “You must be this high to ride.” It’s also, unfortunately, not all that great, especially if you watch it sober. It’s oddly paced and the acting is all over the place, with other random elements thrown in with no explanation. At the same time, there’s a strange charm to it. There are definitely some entertaining elements, but the overall package is too messy to truly warrant much more than a late-night companion to a herb-induced nap.
Halloweed (2016) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: for every shot of CG smoke or blood.
Take a Drink: every time Joey tries to prove he’s not gay (or says something to suggest he is).
Take a Drink: whenever Deputy Thompson tries to perform a cavity search on someone.
Do a Shot: for every weird sound effect.
Take a Drink: for every film reference.