“What is your greatest fear?”
That’s a question that I found myself discussing on Saturday night as I joined a group of friends to watch the 2019 film, Halloween Party.
“What is your greatest fear?”
It seems like a simple question but it can be so difficult to answer. I know that a lot of people, at this very moment, would probably say COVID-19. Others would probably say climate change or creeping authoritarianism or Greta Thunberg’s disapproving stare. On Saturday night, a few people identified clowns as being their greatest fear. Leonard said that he didn’t like spiders.
Myself, I struggled to come up with one. It’s not that I’m not scared of things. I hate heights. I have a fear of drowning. I’m not a fan of dogs. But when it comes to my greatest fear, that’s a difficult one to answer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of my fears were more abstract as opposed to being physical. I fear being at the mercy of pitiless and chaotic universe, the type that Werner Herzog always talks about. I fear having to listen to a boring conversation. I fear discovering that I picked the wrong confirmation name. In fact, I spent a lot of time on Saturday bragging about how my fears were so much more interesting than everyone else’s fear.
Then, on Sunday, I watched the original Poltergeist and I remembered that my greatest fear is actually accidentally eating spoiled food. Which could totally happen! I mean, what if they put the wrong expiration date on the package? What if you’re refrigerator stopped working while you were away and then started working at the exact moment that you returned home? You would never know that the food had been sitting there, unrefrigerated, for hours.
Seriously, I think it’s a pretty justifiable fear.
Halloween Party is all about being forced to face your greatest fears. It’s about a cursed internet meme. When it shows up in your email, you’ve got only a few seconds to type in your greatest fear and then hit return. Tell the truth and hit return in time and you’ll get a cute little dancing ghost. Lie or don’t hit return in time and an evil witch appears and announces that you will soon meet your greatest fear. Everyone laughs the meme off but then their fears actually do start to show up, killing not only the person who received the meme but also anyone unlucky enough to get in the way.
College students Grace (Amy Groening) and Spencer (T. Thomason) attempt to investigate the meme and try to figure out how to stop it. It all has something to do with the fact that horribly disfigured children were once housed in their dorm. Apparently, the children got walled up and have been after revenge ever since. To be honest, I couldn’t really follow all of the stuff about the kids and the fact that the kids were made up to appear to be kind of grotesque made it a bit difficult for me to really watch any of the scenes involving them. I kind of wish the film had just concentrated on the meme and the fears. That’s fun part of a film like this.
(For the record, Spencer is afraid of bears. Personally, I think he just needs to watch Grizzly Man a few times and he’ll get over it. Grace is scared of “vagina spiders” and that’s actually a perfectly reasonable fear to have because spiders are almost as frightening as spoiled food and they do tend to get everywhere. I did some research and discovered that, thankfully, spiders cannot lay eggs under your skin but still, whether they’re laying eggs or not, there are certain places that a spider just has no place being.)
Halloween Party is a fairly derivative horror film, as anyone who has seen any of The Ring films will quickly notice. That said, it has a sense of humor about itself and Grace and Spencer are appealingly quirky protagonists. There are more than enough creepy scenes to make up for the familiarity of the story. Halloween Party is a film made for horror fans by horror fans. Watch it at your next party but be prepared to confess what you’re greatest fear is. Don’t say spoiled food, though. That’s already taken.