The film opens on October 31st, during a year that occurred a long time ago. We see a man named Alec Windsor (Christopher Lloyd) visiting Sacred Hearts, a home for Wayward Children, delivering a final notice and claiming their land now belongs to him. The previous owners now have forty-eight hours to vacate before bulldozers come in and tear the place down. However, a terrible curse is cast upon Alec, causing him to fall to the ground, but his spirit flees towards the sky.
In the present day, we are introduced to three teenagers who are also close friends: Jake (Donovan Colan), Carsen (Dylan Martin), and Bo (Jaiden J. Smith). The trio enjoy riding their bikes around town and playing together. Based on their conversations, we learn that they are all excited about the upcoming Halloween season. After riding their bikes around the area, they stumble upon a retail store known as Spirit Halloween. With excitement, the three decide to walk in and check it out. The store has costumes, scary props, and many other fun products. While looking around, Carsen reveals that he wants to skip Trick or Treating, claiming that Halloween is starting to feel childish now that he’s growing up. Jake is unimpressed to hear the news, as the three have always celebrated Halloween together in the past. At home, Jake is also struggling with new changes in his family, affecting his plans and desires surrounding Halloween. Jake convinces Carsen and Bo to do something radical and creepy, even though Carsen is happy to skip it. Instead of just watching a movie or knocking on doors asking for candy, Jake plans an evening for him and his friends to stay inside the local Spirit Halloween store overnight. However, after entering the store, the three boys find themselves trapped inside, and they soon discover more than they bargained for when they encounter a ghostly spirit among them. Can Jake and his friends survive the night and find a way to defeat the strange spirit that is stalking them?
“Spooky Halloween” is best described as a horror film, but to my surprise, the film is more suitable for a family audience, with the quality of a Disney midday movie or even an episode of Goosebumps. The film, overall, is quite playful, offering minor scares and a predictable yet straightforward mystery. The location where the film is set, a Halloween retail store, is excellent and feels welcoming and fresh as a Halloween film. Our leads are surrounded by many Halloween-related products, costumes, and toys, making the atmosphere feel like a real treat.
However, the film also plays a cruel trick relating to the film’s big star, which highlights actor Christopher Lloyd. Sadly, you’ll be disappointed if you were hoping to see this actor play a significant lead in this film. Here, the actor shines nicely in the opening scene, only to never be seen again. Granted, the actor reappears throughout the movie as a blue floating spirit entering various vessels, such as toy skeletons and teddy bears, while lending his voice only throughout the film. Among our three young actors, I felt they all did well here, and I admired the film’s attempt to be relatable and add some heart to the mix, such as the challenges of growing up and dealing with new changes within a family. However, moments of disagreements and bickering among the leads become exhausting, especially before the film’s climax. The film’s ending and climax are also a little baffling, almost as if the filmmakers were unsure how best to wrap everything up.
Overall, those seeking a family-style ghost story around Halloween will find some treats within “Spirit Halloween” as a film. It’s a great concept that feels familiar, such as a Disney midday film or an episode of Goosebumps. Mostly, it’s harmless fun, and the film’s setting, location, and atmosphere are terrific; the same could be said about the young actors who also do well here. However, the film also plays a fun trick on its audiences, particularly surrounding actor Christopher Lloyd, who has been marketed as a leading actor but is hardly in the movie apart from a key opening scene. In the end, combined with a few pleasing factors and disappointments, including the film’s weak finale and watching our leads bicker too often, it’s still passable as a family feature.
Spooky Halloween (2022) is Available on DVD & Digital from October 11th!