When you walk into a Spirit Halloween store you begin to stare in wonderment at all the animatronics spread throughout the store; terrifying entities that have been plucked from our worst nightmares.
We run up to them and watch as they come to life, our consolation in the fact that these creatures are only made of plastic, rubber, and wires. But if that wasn’t the case?
Spirit Halloween: The Movie, a new film based on the popular seasonal horror store, looks at what would happen if these harmless animatronics suddenly came to life.
Spirit Halloween: The Movie begins in the past when on one fateful October 31, cutthroat proprietor Alex Windsor attempts to evict a woman and her group of wayward children from their home. In retaliation, she places a curse on him that bonds his soul to the lands he desperately covets.
Spirit Halloween: The Movie then travels to the present time where we’re introduced to Jake and his two best friends, Bo and Carson.
This particular Halloween, Jake so desperately wants to hang onto his Halloween traditions of going trick-or-treating and spending the spooky holiday with his friends, especially since he has no control over the changes that have been happening at home. Jake’s father recently passed away, and his mother has remarried, bringing an unwanted stepfather and sister into his life.
Because of this, Jake is distraught when Carson tells him that he is too old to go trick-or-treating and would instead attend a high school party.
But after Carson’s plan is derailed by his older sister, Kate. Jake comes up with an idea to spend the night in a Spirit Halloween store instead. If he can’t go trick-or-treating, he can still spend the night with his friends.
It isn’t long into their stay that the friends start to experience paranormal activity in the form of flickering lights and disembodied voices. Their situation is made worse when a mysterious animatronic within the store comes to life and gives them the ominous message that the spirit of Alex Windsor is roaming free this night, a spirit that is bound to this dimension awaiting the anniversary of his death to claw his way back into the land of the living.
To their dismay, they learn that the spirit of Windsor is the one controlling the very animatronic delivering them the message. Bursting forth his spirit begins to transfer itself into the other animatronics within the store in the hopes of capturing and possessing one of the three friends.
Meanwhile, Kate learns of her brother and his friend’s plan and regrettably decides to visit the Spirit Halloween store, where she discovers the spirit of Alex Windsor is out to possess the body of those foolish enough to spend the night in the store.
Now our unlucky souls must evade the evil Windsor, for if he inhabits your body when the clock strikes midnight your body will belong to him for all eternity.
Those expecting to see a film revolving around the popular seasonal retailer chain might be disappointed by the store’s lack of involvement in the overall plot.
The fact that the film’s location takes place inside a Spirit Halloween store has little to do with the story. The setting could have been in a fictional store and it wouldn’t have made a difference. The only benefit of using Spirit Halloween is that they already have a pre-existing catalog of animatronics to choose from.
You would also assume that a movie about Spirit Halloween, a store that specializes in creating terrifying animatronics, would deliver the scares, but most of the horror elements in the film are lined with a comedic undertone. They are played off more as silly than scary. This is clearly because the film is targeted towards a younger generation, this is evident through the underlying story about a group of friends who are faced with the realization that the life they once knew is changing. While one leaps headfirst into the change, expecting it to be the answer to all their problems, the other reluctantly holds onto the past, afraid to let go of how things used to be.
Disguised as a horror movie, the film ultimately becomes a coming-of-age story about the fear of change and how the only way to conquer your fear is by letting go and embracing that life will continue to move forward whether you want it to or not, you can’t force it and you certainly can’t run from it either. You instead need to allow change to happen naturally and accept that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can often lead to better things. Sure, it can be hard to let go of the past and our memories, but by hanging onto the past you prevent yourself from potentially developing new experiences and new relationships. It’s important to remember the past, but just as important to not live in it.
Overall, Spirit Halloween: The Movie has some entertaining elements, but nothing that warrants a watch from any real horror fans. The film is better served as an introductory film into horror, something a parent might show their child when first introducing them to a scary movie. That being said this film should not be shown over films like Hocus Pocus, Coraline, or even Goosebumps. This one is better suited after you have exhausted all the better options.
Spirit Halloween: The Movie stars Donovan Colan as Jake, Dylan Martin Frankel as Carson, Jaiden J. Smith as Bo, Marissa Reyes as Kate, Rachael Leigh Cook as Sue, Brad Carter as Frank, Marla Gibbs as Grandma G, Billie Roy as Joanie, Michelle Civile as the Witch, and Christopher Lloyd as Alex Windsor.