Halloween is a time for all things scary – I’ll admit that as a horror nerd, this is my primary draw to the holiday. I love being scared (as, I’m almost positive, you do as well). Every October, bring on the scariest, the most ghoulish, the most terrifying stories you have and throw them into my eager eyeballs. I want all things supernatural and I don’t need to sleep.
But there is also a draw for me to things that just feel Halloween-y. The right vibe, the right feel, the right atmosphere make some films scratch the Halloween itch just as much as Michael Meyers and Sam do. There is a place in my Halloween viewing for things like Hocus Pocus, The Monster Squad and Goosebumps. Because the right movies, even if they are lighter, more family friendly fare, tap into something in my brain that feels exactly like Halloween as well. These are the movies that connect to my childhood sense of wonder and mystery that surround the holiday. The sense that I don’t necessarily need to be scared, but that there are things out there in the shadows and the mist that just aren’t there the other 364 days of the year.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow hit that spot for me. It’s not scary, but it is fun and very much carries that Halloween essence. The story opens as the Gordon family moves from Brooklyn to the small, New England town of Bridge Hollow. Upon their arrival, they are greeted with the most Halloween town they have ever seen. Decorations are everywhere, everyone is involved and excited. Bridge Hollow lives and breathes Halloween (and I kind of want to live there)
Howard (Marlon Wayans) is a kind but serious, no nonsense, stick up his butt kind of dad, who is 100% not into Halloween. He is a science teacher and has no room in his life or brain for things that cannot be rationally explained. Halloween is silly. His daughter Sydney (Priah Ferguson), however, is entranced. She is all about the holiday, to her dad’s chagrin. As Sydney has gotten older and begun to feel more comfortable in her own skin, she has developed interests different from those that her dad had envisioned for her. He wants her on the science team, she wants to start a paranormal club. He wants her grounded, she wants to explore the unknown.
These differing philosophies come to a head this Halloween, when Sydney and her friends accidentally set loose the spirit of Stingy Jack. His ghost has been imprisoned for the past 100 years, and now that he is out, has the freedom to roam the small town and wreak havoc. His favorite trick is to bring the town’s many Halloween decorations to life. Posters, cut outs, yard displays and more are suddenly walking the streets of Bridge Hollow attacking anyone and everything.Sydney and her father have to find a common ground and understanding in order to set things right.
The story is a simple premise that we’ve certainly seen before, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. It’s really a delightful movie to watch in celebration of the Halloween season. The effects are great, it’s well acted and it never EVER skimps on the charm. Marlon Wayans plays the somewhat curmudgeonly dad figure in a way that he is still relatable, and isn’t just out to step on his daughter’s fun. The film gives his character enough of a backstory for us to understand why he is the way that he is, and he has enough flexibility to eventually try to meet Sydney in her own space.
Speaking of Sydney, Priyah Ferguson once again slays! She is so fun and such an amazing presence onscreen. Not to mention fully capable of leading a story of her very own. Kelly Rowland and Rib Riddle round out the cast nicely and help to balance the story as well as the family dynamics at play.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow is a fun film for October viewing, but an even better one if you or someone you know doesn’t fully want to wade into the waters of full-on, cranked to eleven, scary scary horror. It’s a great gateway horror movie or something fun to have on in the afternoon while you’re waiting for the sun to set so you can break out the serious flicks. Whatever your reasoning, it’s definitely one to check out and add to your annual viewing.
Movie Score: 4/5