Chattanooga Film Fest: The Third Saturday in October (2022)

I went all in on The Third Saturday in October V, loving the way that it had the look and feel of 90s direct to video slasher sequels, so I was beyond excited for the first installment which referenced slashers like Death Screams and Another Son of Sam, I got pretty excited.

Sadly, the final effort doesn’t match the other film. This feels like an approximation of the late 70s and early 80s slasher boom, where The Third Saturday in October V nearly could have arrived in our time via a rip in the time/space paradox and seemed like it really was a product of its era. It was kind of hard reading other reviewers saying how much this seemed like My Bloody Valentine and it felt like a game of, “Tell me that you haven’t really paid attention to slashers other than aping what everyone else writes about them without telling me.”

It’s too bright, too trying to be strange instead of being odd naturally — the endless meow dialogue is grating at best — and the football title feels forced whereas it naturally fits into the other film.

That’s not to say that there’s not some real talent here. Director, writer and editor Jay Burleson gets a lot out of his budget. Darius Willis and K.J. Baker are really good as the parents of victims who just want to put serial killer Harding into the ground once and for all. And there’s a great atmospheric graveyard scene that’s quite evocative of the early scenes of Halloween. Then it all kind of falls apart, as the characters of John Paul (Casey Aud), Denver (Kate Edmonds), Pam (Venna Black), Bobbi Jo (Libby Blake), Uncle Deeter (Richard Garner) and Ned (Dre Bravo) are never funny, constantly drag the film down and just seem like they’ve come out of Tromaville — never a good thing — and take the film from satiric to sophomoric.

It also doesn’t help that Denver’s headphones — the Walkman 2 which popularized the device didn’t come out in the U.S. until 1981, so this feels anachronistic — dancing scene just ended up reminding me of a much better throwback in The House of the Devil.

Creating slasher victims is hard — how much should we care about them? Do we just want them to die? This film never even ponders that, even if at heart it’s either a tribute or a pastiche of the past. That said, Allison Shrum’s Heather is a fine final girl and I enjoyed Lew Temple (31The Devil’s Rejects) as her father.

I really wish I had liked this more and even after a second viewing, worrying if I’d overhyped myself, I still struggled to finish it. One of the things that took me out of the film was seeing Harding have his mask on near the end with no scene explaining where it came from or why he had a mask, which is always the big moment in any slasher. And yes, I get that we rarely get much character development in these movies, but why is Jakkariah Harding so feared? I can accept The Shape being unkillable, but I also learned that he had the darkest eyes, the devil’s eyes. This film asks us to fill in the knowledge we have of slashers without rewarding us with touching on those moments and treating them in new and unique ways.

The slasher genre is ripe for being made light of but this film sadly doesn’t have much new to add to the conversation, which is a shame, as I can and will extol the virtues of its sequel/companion movie.

Want to see it for yourself? It’s now playing as part of the Chattanooga Film Fest. Virtual tickets are available at www.chattfilmfest.org/

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