BLACK PUMPKIN movie poster | ©2020 Uncork’d Entertainment

BLACK PUMPKIN movie poster | ©2020 Uncork’d Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Ellie Patrikios, Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick, Dogen Eyeler, Curt Clendenin, Matt Rife, Ryan Poole, Connor Weil, Tasha Dixon, Jordyn Lucas, Gemma Brooke Allen, Malaak Hattab, Alix Schwartz, Brittany Belt, Jacques Derosina, Drew Ochsner, Sundeep Konero, Wesley J. Szabo, Timothy Wade, Shaeda Maghaddam, Joseph Barone, Christopher Demaci, Jo Osmond
Writer: Ryan McGonagle
Director: Ryan McGonagle
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Release Date: December 8, 2020

BLACK PUMPKIN bills itself as “a twisted tall tale.” It’s a Halloween movie, complete with a HALLOWEEN-esque score (by Chris Kooreman & Edo Plasschaert, performed by Beat Royalty), coming out just in time for … Christmas?

A prologue introduces us to a killer who alternately sets booby traps and attacks directly. Ten years later, we meet single mom Barbra (Tasha Dixon), her high school senior daughter Laurie (Ellie Patrikios), film buff middle school son Elliot (Dogen Eyeler), and little horror movie fan daughter Regan (Gemma Brooke Allen). The happy family has unknowingly moved into the house from the earlier murders.

When Elliot and his best friend Porkchop (Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick) shoot an enhanced documentary about local mystery spot Diablo’s Den for their film class, they unknowingly provoke an entity known as Bloody Bobby (Jo Osmond).

Director/writer Ryan McGonagle pays homage to other horror movies right, left, and center, starting with the names of his main characters (okay, “Elliott” is from E.T., not a horror movie, but still). We get the mask p.o.v. from HALLOWEEN, plus “Laurie,” plus a teacher named Mr. Carpenter (Jacques Derosina), Jason Voorhees’s hockey mask (on a small child), plus something like the FRIDAY THE 13TH mythology, some DON’T LOOK NOW aspects, actual film clips from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a BLAIR WITCH PROJECT reference, and more.

In fact, BLACK PUMPKIN is so wrapped up in acknowledging its genre predecessors, all films McGonagle clearly loves, that it doesn’t get a whole lot of time to be itself. The lore provided regarding Bloody Bobby is confusing, as is the extent of his supernatural reach (apparently more than Jason, less than Freddy).

McGonagle sets a respectably creepy tone in the prologue, but then waits another half an hour for any further scares. The film has some natural humor that works, but sometimes undercuts them with poor timing that detracts from the action. There are points for the look of Bloody Bobby, which is effectively unnerving.

McGonagle gets good performances from his young cast members. Clearly eager for a franchise, the movie properly lays the foundation for a sequel. It also employs picture credits at the end for the actors, making sure we know who is who, which is welcome with a cast of this size (large for what looks like a modest budget).

Finally, BLACK PUMPKIN conveys the joy of both watching and making low-budget horror. In that respect, it’s a nice Christmas present for fans of the genre.

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