Black Pumpkin is a horrifically awful horror-comedy. It relies too heavily on 80s nostalgia. While there could’ve been some great potential scares and kills, the writing and acting was too terrible to overcome. Black Pumpkin is about a pair of pre-teens who accidentally awaken an evil spirit in their small town the weekend of Halloween. The town and teens are forced to fight to survive the reincarnated serial killer known as “Bloody Bobby.”
This movie could have been much scarier. The visuals of Bloody Bobby are creepy but paired with how awful the rest of the movie is, it doesn’t work. In the opening of the film I jumped from a scare once and got excited that it would be a recurring theme but it was not. The synth score, which helped add to the obvious 80’s atmosphere was well done, but unfortunately, these are the only good things I found about Black Pumpkin.
First of all this film really beats you over the head with all of the 80’s and horror references. Besides the music, the three main leads are named Laurie (Ellie Patrikios), Elliot (Dogan Eyeler) and Regan (Gemma Brooke Allen). These names are obvious references to Halloween, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, and The Exorcist. There was a small chase scene with a bike and a van which was another nod to E.T. While I appreciate the movie going in a slasher film direction rather than a creature/monster one, like Stranger Things, it certainly felt like the filmmakers were trying to capitalize on the 80’s craze caused by the show. Many of the deaths and even Regan’s Halloween costume are reminiscent of the Friday the 13th franchise. I found it a strange choice for the movie to exude such a strong 80’s vibe, yet the story takes place in present day and made constant references to modern technology and lingo such as smart phones and YouTube.
Black Pumpkin overall was a complete and utter mess. The acting was completely horrid but I would like to give the actors the benefit of the doubt and say that they probably did not have much material to work with, which would hurt anyone’s performance.
The writing was the scariest thing about the film. There were jokes that didn’t land and even ones that made me roll my eyes because they were so obvious and cheesy. The film seemed to become more of a comedy in the last half but if it was all meant to be funny, they should’ve leaned into the humor and cheesiness of it all a lot more. It felt like the filmmakers couldn’t decide if they were making a full on horror comedy or not. The reason films like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Piranha 3D and Cabin in the Woods work so well is that they know what they are and don’t take themselves too seriously. The plot was all over the place. The film needed to establish rules for Bloody Bobby. It seemed like there was no method to his madness and the black pumpkin, for which the film was named, only appeared sometimes. The mythology was not explained well enough at all, and we didn’t know Bloody Bobby’s motivation. Why this family? Why Halloween? Why that house? There was too little information given to become invested at all.
Besides the plot being thin, the dialogue itself was terrible. Bad jokes aside, some bits of dialogue were too obvious or even cringy. The timing between lines and ADR was terrible. The whole production honestly felt like a college project. Even the editing was strange at times. The scares and kills were often fast-cut and too close-up to really tell what was happening. There were two kills specifically that I did enjoy that lingered a bit. One was an obvious nod to slashers from the 80’s, which I appreciated. The other was just a nice, gory, unique kill that was quickly ruined by an awkward joke.
Black Pumpkin is a waste of time, even for hardcore horror fans.. While it has a few satisfying moments, those don’t make up for the film as a whole, which was messy, boring and predictable. This movie isn’t even bad enough to be fun, it’s just plain bad. This is certainly one of the worst films of 2020.
Verdict: 1.5 out of 5 stars