Sunday, 20 April 2014

Short film review: THE LAST HALLOWEEN (2013) Directed by Marc Roussel

With what could have been a familiar, well-worn concept, Marc Roussel's The Last Halloween defies expectations and delivers a fun (but not necessarily funny), scary and disturbing short straight out of our worst nightmares.
On what seems to be a normal Halloween night, a group of children go trick or treating. Dressed in the usual -if ragged - costumes of Ghost, Devil, Witch and the Grim Reaper, the neighbourhood they are canvasing is more than a little run-down. Although people are coming to their doors, the treats they are given are not the standard candy kind. At the first house, a woman pokes her head sheepishly through the only-partially opened door, sure to keep the security chain in place. Looking worried and hoping to get rid of them as quick as possible, she hands over a small tin of cat food. The next house is really dilapidated. Poking his head through a gap in the broken door, a babbling man (Julian Richings, who was Death in the TV series Supernatural), his face and head full of lesions spouts seemingly nonsensical gibberish. He hands over all he has: a half-eaten dead bird.
The children look bemused but move on. The next house seems more looked after. A perimeter fence keeps them from coming to the front door. A monitor allows the a man inside to talk to them. He isn't keen on letting them in, nor entertaining their tradition. His wife is worried they might need help, but he is having none of it; he's clearly afraid of "what's outside". But as they have not had a treat, what would the children's trick be?
The Last Halloween came as a complete surprise. The setting, which becomes more apparent as we progress through the 10 minute short, allows director Roussel (via an upcoming comic book by Mark Thibodeau) to concoct a unique tale around the annual tradition. Rest assured, things do get monstrous towards the end, with some great prosthetics by The Butcher Shop, but in the proceeding minutes the film manages to create an anxious atmosphere in which the viewer is not quite sure what's happening. The cinematography by Michael Jari Davidson is stunning. Fluid (thanks to the uses of Steadycam) yet imposing, it could easily have graced a multimillion dollar Hollywood production. Add to it a score (by Christopher Guglick) which is at times reminiscent of John Carpenter's best and you have a brilliant little flick. Roussel's earlier short, Remote (2010 - check it out here) was a big hit with fans and critics alike, and this short looks set to be a favourite too.
Expect it to be screened during the festival season, and the intention is to premiere it online just in time for Halloween. Check out the trailer below and enjoy!
8 out of 10

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