Entries in 2014 (1)


Happy Easter: THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER (2014) Review


It still boggles the mind why more people haven’t made slasher movies centered around Easter, yet there’s a large variety of Christmas-themed horror flicks to choose from. Both are religious holidays with an easily identifiable mascot, yet Easter takes place in the spring so it’s much easier to film at any time of the year (it’s hard to make an effective Christmas horror movie without snow). There is the obscure Canadian TV movie Till Death Do Us Part from 1982 that, while very entertaining, didn’t even do much with the holiday. There’s also Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!, but that’s one I haven’t gotten around to checking out despite its massively alluring title. Thankfully, this dry spell was broken very recently with an über-low-budget slasher tapping directly into the vein of the eighties slashers (yeah, but how many times have we heard that one before?). It’s incredible that the guys behind it got the movie made with the budget they had, but does it even hold up?




The night before Easter, chipper Kelly (Emily Chidalek) invites her old friends to a fun get-together in a storage facility, which is owned by one of their fathers. The night starts off as a good time filled with beer, hide and seek, and good-old shenanigans in general. However, the night takes a turn for the worse when a raging hellbitch going by the name of Melissa (Bonnie Marilyn Jean) shows up to make everyone’s life considerably more miserable, especially Kelly’s. Just when you thought the night couldn’t get any unholier, a psychopath donning an Easter Bunny outfit shows up to hack and slash his (or her?) way through anyone and everyone. Could it be Alex Sykes, the infamous Easter Bunny murderer, who has just escaped from the mental hospital? Or is it one of the group gone berserk?

This has to be one of the hardest films I’ve ever reviewed. I don’t recall ever seeing a film with this much ambitiousness and geist, while also having one of the lowest budgets I’ve seen in a very long time (about $4,000). I always try to factor in the attitude that seems to radiating from behind the camera with these kinds of movies (I’ll keep saying it: it’s the little things that count), but should they totally forgive all the faults committed by the film itself? Well...no, and I will admit that it’s hard to look past the restraints placed on the production by lack of funds. In some ways, The Night Before Easter reminds one of a particularly good SOV slasher and does bring back memories of films like Blood Lake (okay, maybe that comparison will make people instantly scratch this off their watchlist, but bear with me), and I’ll get to why.

I figure it’s best to start with the film’s weaknesses first, then move towards what I enjoyed about it. Segwaying from that comparison to Blood Lake (which I’ll forever regret; no film deserves that), the pacing in The Night Before Easter is a bit wonky. The film starts out strong with a fun “film-within-a-film” sequence, followed by two murders, a great April Fool’s Day reference, and some great opening credits accompanied by the glorious soundtrack. Then we go to the storage facility and settle down with the characters...and boy do we settle down. It builds up nicely to when our resident psycho begins picking the characters off (about thirty minutes, which is the perfect amount of time in my opinion), but when he/she does, the death scenes only last a few seconds with almost no build-up, so the long scenes of what amounts to nothing going on never really feel worth it until the last ten minutes or so. This mirrors Blood Lake’s pacing (from what I remember) with the copious amounts of character development followed by death scenes that, for the most part, aren’t worth it (the murders are where the budget really shows). The acting in the flick is a mixed bag of “wow that’s actually pretty solid” to “what the hell is that guy even doing,” but that’s not too big of a quibble. However, what also comes off as distracting are the camera shots. The camerawork in the film has the mark of somebody with a lot of ambition; maybe a little too much ambition. Most of the shots are at some strange angle, when using straightforward angles followed by the creative stuff during the murder scenes probably would have been much more effective.

Phew...that’s enough negativity; let’s get into what I dug about this flick. First: the aforementioned score. I’ve pretty much had it up to here with grating, retro synthesizer scores in independent movies, but the music here is most definitely an exception. The music oozes a good-times vibe missing from a lot of slasher throwbacks and succeeds in conjuring up sweet memories of the synthesizer music in the brilliant Blood Rage, so major bonus points for that. And the reason that The Night Before Easter succeeds for the most part and Blood Lake succeeds in falling on its ass is due to one detail: characters. Even though the acting is a little spotty, the characters are (almost) all written to be totally likable, and they pretty much are. Each has a distinct personality that I could follow, and I really enjoyed that. A personal favorite is Dante, a dude obsessed with money, but the real gold is in his heart (I’m so sorry). I was actually getting annoyed with how friendly everyone was...until Melissa showed up. With a name directly taken from every slasher fan’s favorite bitch (from Friday the 13th Part VII, for the uneducated) and the personality to match, Melissa isn’t the bitch the world deserves, but the bitch the world needs. She’s rude, manipulative, and an all-around despicable person, but one you’ll love to hate. Also, despite the budgetary restrictions limiting the gore effects, I liked the variety of methods used to dispatch the characters, and the moment we first see the Bunny in the storage facility was shot very, very well. Pile on to this a final girl I couldn’t guess and a unique setting, and you’ve got a heckuva lot of compensation for the negatives. 

That’s all pretty lengthy, but what it all boils down to is that The Night Before Easter is decent. It hasn’t made a major impact on the slasher subgenre, and it’s neither so good nor so-bad-it’s-good so that it might one day become a cult classic. But it does make for a pleasant enough Easter afternoon viewing and is worth a rental. After I watched The Night Before Easter, I caught up with Machete Kills, which impressed me by showing how much a movie can be a throwback and do almost everything wrong, and that just made me appreciate this film more, because these guys at least know what they’re doing with the source material (or, at least, make it seem like that) It’s currently available for either purchase or rental (see link below), plus you can purchase that jammin’ soundtrack alongside it (once again, check out those links). Also, not to over-plug the stuff the makers of TNBE are putting out, but they also do a fantastic podcast with two other people purely on slasher movies, and it’s called The Hysteria Continues. If you enjoy films for likable characters, entertaining bitches, solid final chases, astounding scores, cool killers, and a lot of heart, this is pretty much made for you. But for real; get these guys a budget because they are totally on the right track and I'm anxious to see what they do next.

The Verdict: Whether or not you should see The Night Before Easter almost entirely depends on your ability to look past certain flaws, like a lack of bloodshed, professional acting, and plot, but the merits and good vibes are too strong to advise you against seeing it.

Score: 5/10

The Night Before Easter - Trailer from Joseph Henson on Vimeo.