On Chad Ostrom’s The Day After Halloween (2022)

by Jacqueline Valencia

Audiences need more horror movies with clever stories. Horror movie lovers can be discerning and quite critical of what they will champion. I do love horror and I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Nothing better than having a pile of VHS tapes to babysit you through your adolescent years or late night movies, all full of gore and jump scares to keep you up at night. However, nowadays I’m finding every indie horror movie gets people calling it out as the next best thing. I wasn’t a fan of Terrifier, but watched it for the hype, (I’m afraid of clowns and so I expected to be scared. All I saw was a clown that was trying too hard to get me to be scared). Malignant was also a much lauded film and felt cheated out of my time. But everyone has their tastes and I’m glad to see horror going strong. I’m just more suspicious these days of hype bots and the many ways the industry is trying their hardest to get people into the theatre again. It takes a lot for me to click play on a new horror film because of this. But more often than not, I will go ahead and press that button, just out of pure curiosity.

The Day After Halloween takes us to a drive-in where buddies, Addison (Danny Schluck, writer) and Hayes (Brandon DeLaney), shut down the theatre for a Halloween party. The next day, they find the dead body of Haye’s girlfriend, The Corpse (as per the credits, played by Aimee Fogelman), in their bathtub. The film unravels through rushed dialogue in a back and forth in time to the events that culminated in the corpse being found and beyond. You can find the horror in gore-less minimal amount of kills (but for the blood spurts).

The focus here is on the banter between the characters, particularly between Addison, Hayes, and The Corpse. For someone who just lost his girlfriend, Hayes is more freaked out about how Addison is dealing with the dead body. There wasn’t enough tension or character development for me to care for these people, so I thought maybe dealing with the body would be more interesting. No, it wasn’t. Just more series of rapid dialogue, with references to horror movies, played off as clever. Some of the lines hit, but it wasn’t enough to save the movie.

I got a little excited at the beginning of the film seeing that it was set in a drive-in theatre, according to IMDB, the only drive-in in the US that uses film projection. The sight of old rusty film containers and the possibility of seeing the inner workings of that, is the main reason I kept watching. Unfortunately, despite very few comedic scenes, (a vampire, played by Victoria Meade, hilariously stalking her next victim, cartoon style), the movie fell flat.

There was an effort here to try to tell a funny horror story, but it focused on that dialogue delivered as if it was being read on paper and maybe too much of it was that, an unfunny script delivered in a promising premise. Oh man, why didn’t they use the theatre (as seen in the poster) more?

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