Article | The tricks and treats of the cult classic ‘Halloween Tales’
Halloween is a celebration known all over the world. Its history dates back to ancient pagan celebrations, more precisely in Celtic mythology, in which the barrier between the spiritual world and the earthly world became more tenuous and contact with beings that had already died would be more intense. Over the years, the celebration formerly known as Samhain, celebrated within traditional Sabbath ideas, has become a more “fun” celebration, so to speak, in which people dress up as countless pop culture icons and take to the streets for collections. sweets in the innocent trick-or-treating game – especially in Nordic countries, although in Brazil this also happens more sporadically. However, few people remember the obscurantism and dense atmosphere brought by this time of year – and the director Michael Dougherty promises to take audiences to a lesser-known side of this celebration with his newest film.
‘Halloween Tales’ starts from the premise of the countless horror anthologies that became popular in urban literature in 19th century England and that would go viral with the arrival of ‘American Horror Story’. In other words, the narrative is divided into five small creative nuclei that are intertwined by the same theme or by the convergence of characters – and leaving aside the more theoretical scope, each of these subplots is told by perspectives that are not premeditated at all and that renege on any clichés of the horror genre. Dougherty here also enters as the person responsible for the screenplay, providing his own view of the facts and even facilitating a language that could yield to predictable formulas.
The feature also makes references to the anachronistic montage of several works of drama from classic cinema, allowing the audience to travel through time to seek answers and easter eggs. Starting with a morbid clip that shows a woman’s disregard for Halloween and her consecutive murder by a demonic force, this backdrop is the basis for us to return to the past, where all these events began. It is interesting how the filmmaker also plays with irony by putting us face to face with an instructional video about that particular day, which warns us to pay attention to sweets, not to go out alone, not to walk in the middle of the street and not to go to the house of strangers – and guess what? It’s these four warnings that take drastic turns to turn into bloody, frightening tales.
In short, we have the journey of a young virgin (Anna Paquin) in search of true love that gives in to cruel twists; the blossoming of a high school teacher (Dylan Baker) into a dangerous serial killer; a grumpy old man (Brian Cox) who receives a visit from a costumed demon who will do anything to kill him; and the misadventure of a group of teenagers who wish to pay tribute to a tragic event that took place in their small town. Dougherty takes care that the blocks are not thrown all at once to the spectators, making good use of the parallel mount alongside each other. Robert Ivison to prevent us from falling into a linear monotony and looking for references and certain more subtle elements that can indicate the end of each story. The result is, for the most part, satisfactory, although it may seem ridiculous at times. But even with these flaws, filmic options always speak louder.
The script follows a very metaphorical line that denies the use of scenic clarity. In other words, framing and angle options always value foreshadowing, leaving it open for the audience, through synesthetic elements, to conclude the outcome without absolute certainty. I have to say that, personally, stories that leave loose ends are my favorites – and the gnawing feeling of wanting to see more and more is soon replaced by a topsy-turvy satisfaction, suppressed by the next story. In an infinite cycle, we can even perceive a closure – not with the end credits, but with the moment when Paquin’s character reaches her maximum revelation (the only really explicit moment in the feature film).
The arcs also make use of the suspense, terror and excessive calm that always comes after the storm. The narrative progression is almost geometric, reaching the apex and then returning to an intoxicating, lethargic and full state, as if nothing had happened and as if the next day was simply a continuation of the previous one, sometimes causing questions about the human nature of works that were expand to the supernatural. This unsettling feeling is most seen in the teen subplot and its tragic ending, which has to do with the bus accident that took the lives of eight children over thirty years ago.
Although restricting itself to clearly expressionist references, the art direction and photography play an important role in increasing the weight of the atmosphere. The density is reaffirmed by the excessive use of fog, the play of light and shadow, the presence of dry and twisted trees that immediately transport us to a scenario of classic horror – the haunted forest or the abandoned medieval castle. Sometimes characters are soaked without any explanation by beams of harsh light that accentuate their delineations and make them intrusive elements within a chaotic construction. Of course, these choices are made to allow maximum connection with the target audience, but opting for saturation is redundant, if strangely satisfying.
‘Halloween Tales’ It’s one of those movies that delivers more than it promises. After all, if we look from above, it seems that we will see simple stories that will in no way add to a genre so mistreated; but looking carefully, it’s almost impossible not to get a shiver down your spine when you see an original and ghastly perspective on one of the most famous celebrations of all time.
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