Spirit Halloween has earned its title as king of Halloween, one abandoned warehouse at a time. Every year, Spirit stores pop up in nearly every major and minor city in North America, delivering licensed costumes, animatronics, and spooky decor to the masses. Instagrammers and Tiktokers alike ring in the spookiest season of the year by showing off hauls and touring their local Spirit Halloween. Most would agree, Halloween can’t officially start without a trip to the Halloween retailer.
Spirit Halloween has become a ritual of the season. Trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and.. creepy capitalism. And now, in perhaps their most lucrative move of all, Spirit Halloween is a movie.
“…your classic kids vs. monsters plot, all packaged up in a very familiar universe; a Spirit Halloween store.”
Directed by David Poag from a script by Billie Bates, Spirit Halloween: The Movieis your classic kids vs. monsters plot, all packaged up in a very familiar universe; a Spirit Halloween store. With a runtime shorter than a fun-size candy bar hit with 2022 shrinkflation, Spirit Halloween plays out more like a Disney after-school Halloween special than a feature film. But let’s be real- the Olsen Twins’ Double, Double Toil and Trouble (1993) is a cinematic masterpiece, so it’s in good company.
The film follows the Halloween-obsessed Jake (Donovan Colan), determined to keep his best buds celebrating Halloween like kids do for just one more year. When his pals Carson (Dylan Frankel) and Bo (Jaiden J. Smith) poo-poo his trick-or-treating plans, Jake has to step up his game. Wet Bandits style, the boys decide to spend the night in a Spirit Halloween store. Because trespassing is all fun times and kid stuff, I guess.
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It’s all fun and games for the first few hours. Costumes, face painting, and animatronic jumping spiders. But the spirit of a cursed wealthy land developer (voiced by the iconic Christopher Lloyd) finds his way out of purgatory and into animatronics, hellbent on capturing a body to house his evil soul. How does this spirit break out? Who knows. Why? Who cares. The point is there’s a giant skeleton chasing after three young kids and the Spirit Halloween monsters you’ve pressed the footie button on a hundred times at a store near you have COME TO LIFE!
While Jake, Carson and Bo dodge monster after monster, Carson’s sister Kate (Marissa Reyes) and Jake’smomSue (Rachael Leigh Cook) are hot on their trail. Hopefully, they can get there in time..
“Spirit Halloween plays out more like a Disney after-school Halloween special than a feature film.”
Unfortunately, those coming to Spirit Halloween looking for a bonafide movie may be hard-pressed to find those connector bits that take you from one scene to another. They may not find justification, motivation for the characters, or well… to find a story that feels sound and full. Like the flimsy costumes that adorn the retailer’s shelves, Spirit Halloween is a nice facade without a whole lot of quality to back it up. It comes off as an off-brand of the live-action Goosebumps films. There just aren’t boatloads of nostalgic source material to breathe life into this surface-level story. It’s probably because a warehouse of mass-produced animatronics – does not a story make.
That isn’t to say Spirit Halloween is phoning it in. They’ve got Christopher Lloyd voicing their specter of an antagonist, breathing humor and personality into whichever battery-operated cretin he inhabits. It’s just a shame his backstory is as flimsy as one of Spirit’s cardboard standees. Land Baron Alan Windsor is a baddie born solely to inhabit ghoulies in a Spirit Halloween store, and not the other way ’round. And too, Rachel Leigh Cook makes an appearance as the caring and concerned mother figure, but because of Spirit’scrunched runtime, she doesn’t do much more than serve up some spooky carpool.
While Spirit Halloween will flounder with movie fans – it will find its audience in kids who’ve spent time in their stores. And that’s totally fair. Halloween was totally a kid’s holiday before we weirdos went and gobbled it all up with our 18 ft skeletons and Halloween Horror Nights addictions. Let’s let them have this.
How cool would it be to watch a spooky movie when you’re 10 years old and then later that day go to a store that looks exactly like that movie? Spirit Halloween will be magical for them. Not all treats are for us. No sense being sour about it.
“While Spirit Halloween will flounder with movie fans – it will find its audience in kids who’ve spent time in their stores.”
Spirit Halloween: The Movie possesses theatres on September 30, coming to VOD on October 11. Let us know if you’re excited for this creepy capitalist tale over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
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Review: SPIRIT HALLOWEEN: THE MOVIE (2022)
While Spirit Halloween will flounder with movie fans - it will find its audience in kids who've spent time in their stores. And that's totally fair. Halloween was totally a kid's holiday before we weirdos went and gobbled it all up with our 18 ft skeletons and Halloween Horror Nights addictions. Let's let them have this.
How cool would it be to watch a spooky movie when you're 10 years old and then later that day go to a store that looks exactly like that movie? Spirit Halloween will be magical for them. Not all treats are for us. No sense being sour about it.