The Wit Wears Thin In Gravitas Ventures' 'The Day After Halloween'

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Ahhhh, Halloween. Trick or treating and jack-o'-lanterns. Bloody spatter flicks at the local bijou and black cats crossing your path. That modern day inheritor of the Gaelic festival Samhain has evolved through the long centuries to rank second only to Christmas as the largest and most widely celebrated holiday in the United States, and for no small reason: according to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent a record $10.14 Billion in 2021 (an average per person of $102.74), on an ever-escalating array of spooky supplies--costumes, candy, cards, decorations, props, make-up, party favors, accessories--that have transformed the autumnal season into an economic juggernaut. It's a time that allows even the meekest among us get in touch with their inner ghoul, but what happens the following morning, when Dracula has retired to his coffin, all the apples have been bobbed and the sugar rush runs dry? What if your monster mash goes just a little too far?

The Day After Halloween, Gravitas Ventures' and Kamikaze Dogfight's crass new cinematic treat, explores that scenario with superb sardonic style. Aptly marketed as 'The Hangover Meets Horror', the plot centers on two lifelong buds, sloppy slacker Addison (writer Danny Schluck) and romantic-at-heart schlub Hayes (Brandon DeLany), two among a motley crew of co-workers at a drive-in that's closing down for Halloween weekend who busy themselves with planning the ultimate holiday house party. Upon waking up November 1st, however, they discover the murdered corpse of an unnamed willowy blonde (Aimee Fogelman) in their bathtub, and the pair must backtrack through the drunken haze of the previous night's bacchanal to figure out who she was and how to dispose of her remains without earning lengthy prison terms.

There's much for someone with a certain askew outlook to like in this film; less horror than the darkest-hearted of comedies, the mordant humor is midnight black, with wryly irreverent, rapid-fire machine gun banter and gleefully constructed conversations that run the gamut from George A. Romero to '80's TV icon ALF to the finer points of bodily dissection and back again. Director Chad Ostrom unfurls the madness with a cornucopia of quasi-hallucinogenic visual set pieces and a clever non-linear timeline that counts both backwards and sideways with unexpected results.

Reminiscent most of 1998’s criminally underseen Very Bad Things, The Day After Halloween plays like a bleak sitcom run amok, but there's an undercurrent of seriousness to the proceedings: ruminations about moving forward versus stagnation, about fulfilling one's true potential and the correlation between cause and effect, past and present. These pseudo-philosophical musings, however, begin to weigh the narrative down the further along it travels; Schluck's script is a talkative affair, perhaps overly so, and though the discussions are highlighted with hilarity, the wit wears thin at the halfway point, allowing the audience's attention to wander. Only the central whodunit mystery saves the latter portion from sinking into a morass of mediocrity, and there's certainly no shortage of wacky suspects to consider: Was it the sex offender clown? The vampire goth girl? Or was it even a murder to start with?

The Day After Halloween doesn't make for lazy viewing; rapt awareness is required to piece together the movie's multi-layered mosaic, but the final result is an earnest and worthwhile effort sure to inspire as many gasps as guffaws. For those blessed with a deranged slant it's destined to be an essential All Hallow's Eve rite of passage, best enjoyed with the company of macabre, like-minded souls, some pizza and a selection of Jell-O shots. Just don't forget to cover the floor with plastic sheeting first.

I give The Day After Halloween a respectable 3.5 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale.

3.5 / 5.0