Before I watched the trailer, based on the theatrical one-sheet featuring a ponytailed, plaid skirted schoolgirl—complete with ax and skull mask—I was expecting a (predictable) slash of Brian DePalma’s Carrie with a splash of John Carpenter’s Halloween. I figured: we have a non-psychic Carrie White as a tortured prep school student—with a love of Halloween and slasher pics—extracting a Michael Myers-styled slaughter. . . .
One Night in October is my first exposure to the work of writer-director Chris M. Carter. In addition to four shorts, he’s completed two direct-to-video features: The Sister (2012) and Road Trip (2013), as well as supporting his fellow filmmakers as a producer, crew member and actor—so it’s obvious he has a passion for the craft. And looking through the credits of all of those projects, it seems Carter works with a Woody Allen-vibe: he utilizes the same actors across all of his projects (who also work as screenwriters and crew in their own right); that creative-synergy is a good sign that you’re getting a solid production with this, his third direct-to-video feature.
And after watching and reviewing the Greek-made Wicca Book and the upcoming Argentinian A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio, I’m in the right frame of mind to watch Carter’s twist on the anthology format. As with Wicca Book: One Night in October unfolds as three tales within a common thread, but the stories unfold as would a multiple-story arc of an hour-long television drama (i.e., cop solving crime, but has problems at home; the lawyer on the case has a tale to tell, etc.). As result, while an “anthology,” One Night in October flows as a single, semi-cohesive narrative. Each tale does not have a “title,” there’s no evil mailman, hitchhiker, or crypt keeper delivering the tales, and the “connection” is that the events happen on the same night-timeline. The fact the stories mysteriously unfold in bits n’ pieces—and not as three complete tales one at a time—is appreciated.
When I pulled up the trailer for One Night in October on You Tube, the first suggested watch was the trailer for Eli Roth’s remake of 1977’s Death Game, aka 2015’s Knock Knock—and that’s how the “timeline” opens: with a home invasion gone wrong—for the masked invaders. Their just-moved-in-and-loves-Halloween target (Jessica Morgan) turns out to be more violent than her attackers. And what’s up with that creepy neighbor that introduced her to the neighborhood? Say hello to Ms. Split Personality, creep. (Well played by Morgan: the acting highlight of the film. The most engaging “segment” of the three; there’s a feature film in this tale to be had.)
Across town, a group of devil-may-care Halloween-inebriated teens—the type who discover an errant skull with a blood red candle jammed in its skull amid the corn stalks, and don’t get the hell out there—decide to frolic through the cornfield anyway, even after a creepy farmer’s wife warns them. Here comes the supernatural, ax-wielding scarecrow—or is it? Damn, that dead battery! And no cell signals? Not again! Do they poke around the old barn and find a grimoire? Did they stumble into a coven?
Then there’s Emma’s twisted, symbiotic “one date every three months” relationship with Dominic that invites a holiday, skull-masked stalker into her life—who discovers what a real demon is. And Dominic learns that that love is a dish best served red, wet and cold.
And it all connects back to the foretold slaughter at the old farm amid the cornstalks. . . .
One Night in October is now available on DVD and VOD through Wild Eye Releasing. They’ve also made it available as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTv. You can learn more about the film on Facebook. You can also listen to a director’s commentary track about the production on Soundcloud.
Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR company and had no bearing on our review.