David: Happy Halloween everyone! We’re really glad you’ve joined us this month as we’ve covered all kinds of horror films. We started off the month with the horror short Heir and now we are going to finish up with another horror short called The Last Halloween (fitting eh?). Suggested to us by Marc Roussel (who happened to be one of the producers on Heir and is the director and one of the writers of this short), you can currently watch it on Youtube. Here’s the link. The movie is ten minutes, and follows several trick-or-treaters as they walk through a crumbling town on Halloween. Shannon, what were your initial thoughts/comments?
Shannon: My initial thoughts were “Why are there only these trick-or-treaters?” and “What happened to the town?” There are actually more questions that I need answered, but we can get to those later. Other than that, I thought this film was good when looking at the story, the effects, and the acting. David, what aspect do you want to talk about first?
David: As we go through the movie, there are several things that I think warrant discussion. To put them briefly in list form before we continue, I think some of the highlights are the set design, the acting, the creature effects, as well as the story in general. There are so many different aspects of the movie that are able to be appreciated, I watched this short three times before I felt like I truly had a grasp on all the different intricacies of it.
My first and foremost (if you are a normal DoubleFeaturePreachers reader (you can subscribe here if you’re not), you’ll know this already) key to a good picture is acting. Even when films are terrible, if the acting is good, I tend to give it a bit higher grade. Most of the acting here is pretty terrific. One of the highlights for me is the character “Chatterbox” played by Julian Richings. He’s been in a few things we have reviewed (Regression, The VVitch, Man of Steel), but rarely have I noticed his talents as being as powerful as this one. In his one minute of screentime, he brings more to his character than lots of others do with entire films.
expected, and at others I thought he did a good job selling his lines. The kids were all quite a bit of fun with the way their “Trick or Treat” lines were delivered in a slightly menacing voice. And I haven’t even touched on Emily Alatalo (sweet last name) as Kate, who was tremendous at displaying her trepidation at her impending doom and her willingness to let the kids in.
There was something interesting you said to me in our verbal discussion about the movie about Kate. Would you care to elaborate about your thoughts on her character for our gracious readers?
Shannon: Well, my first thought with Kate, is that she wasn’t really there. That her husband was just imagining her or that she was a ghost or something. I’m not sure if this has any truth in it whatsoever. I mean, she did kind of just disappear right? Who knows, I’m probably completely wrong in this (I’ll be watching it again to get a better picture of it), but yeah that was what was going through my head during this short film. I did however think that she did a great acting job, as well as all the characters in this film. I agree with you David that the way the children delivered their “Trick or treat” line was slightly menacing and definitely added to the creepy/horror feel to the storyline.
You mentioned the creature effects as something to discuss, and I definitely agree with you. I thought that creature effects were great. When the kids transformed into their [real?] selves it definitely brought the bar up a notch on the scare factor for the film. David what did you think of these effects?
David: I’m so glad you asked Shannon. First, let me say that I think your assessment of the effects changing the feel of the movie and upping the fear factor of it all is spot on. The movie up to that point could have been less described as a horror movie and more as a apocalyptic thriller. Once the monsters make their presence known instead of just felt, the movie branches towards horror in a big way. My personal favorite was the Ghost! That thing was effing creepy! The Devil was my least favorite of the four (I really liked the laugh, but for the most part I think it looked pretty much a stock devil).
One effect that I could have done without was in the very last shot of the flames devouring the city. I completely understand what they were going for and why it was there, but the flames didn’t really seem as realistic. For me, they brought me out of the film at the very last minute when I think the hammer should have been hitting the hardest. I personally think the same effect/storytelling could have been accomplished simply by showing something along the lines of buildings falling, smoke rising, and hearing screams issuing from the houses. But that is a pretty nitpicky thing to attack amongst all the positives in this film.
Let’s move on to some of my final points: the set design and the plot/story. I am listing these together because I think that they work together intrinsically to paint a picture, but it’s a picture that we seem to be getting slightly different things from. That’s one of the reasons I love watching these things with you Shannon: you see things from a point of view that I may never be able to think of without you. What did you think the main story/plot was?
to house looking for their next victims to ensure that this may in fact be the “Last Halloween.” With that being said, I feel like these four monsters are the entire reason for the apocalypse. I know that in the end the camera pans out to show the town almost in ruins, but maybe they work quickly - ya know like Santa Claus - and are trying to accomplish total destruction in one night.
One thing I didn’t quite understand was the first two houses they went to. I’m assuming since those people gave them a treat (not really sure how a dead bird can be a treat, but hey to each his own) the monsters didn’t feel the need to kill them? Is that how they chose their victims? Is this like The Remaining but in reverse? What did you think of the story and plot for this short film, David? Do you have any takes on my questions about it?
David: See, I disagree. I thought that the apocalypse had already occurred. This comes from seeing the different things on the walls, buildings, and such that seem to be pointing to quarantines and nuclear disaster guidelines. Also, the ability to be bunkered in like Jack and Kate would only occur after a period of time. To go further, I would say that’s why these particular Halloween characters were chosen. Not only do a Ghost, a Witch, a Devil, and Death all represent Halloween, but they also represent characters that have to do with Death and passing on.
Maybe these children, these demons, have arrived on earth after the apocalypse to collect those that are left, those that are still fighting. The first two characters that we see have obviously given up. The first woman in the house is so reluctant and scared to leave that they leave her. The second man has obviously lost his mind. But in the final house they find two souls worth fighting and taking away. Maybe that’s what the destruction of the city (and indeed, the title) is meant to convey - that this is the final step in humanity’s timeline - our Last Halloween.
So ya… that’s pretty horrific. Shannon do you have anything to say in conclusion?
Shannon: I think we’ve pretty much covered it all as far as I can tell. The only thing left to do is give it our final ratings. This short film was really good in my opinion. I’m going to give it a “Liked It” and recommend for everyone to click the link in the beginning paragraph to watch it now! Thanks for reading DFP followers, and thanks to Marc for suggesting that we watch it. Another great short film! How are you going to rate it David?
David: I’m going to give it a “B+”. Thanks for everyone who contributed to this article - Marc, the readers, Shannon, etc. If you know anyone that is interested in showing us their film, please reach out at DoubleFeaturePreachers@gmail.com . I’d be happy to talk to you. We’ll be attending SLIFF (St. Louis International Film Festival) this weekend and next weekend, specifically the “Fantasy Shorts” and the “Horror Shorts” competition. We hope to see everyone there!
David and Shannon write about movies.