It’s a new start for Howard Gordon and the rest of his family. They’ve just moved from Brooklyn to Bridge Hollow, the “safest small town in the U.S.” for the last 10 years running!
The town is lovely, and the people are nice. But if there’s one thing Howard hates, it’s superstition. He’s a man of science, not urban legend. That’s why he finds the town’s extreme enjoyment of Halloween to be, quite frankly, ridiculous.
But Sydney, his daughter, finds it all quite fun! The hundreds of Halloween decorations set up around town; the stories of mediums and seances; even the legend of Stingy Jack, a wicked demon who returns each Halloween to take revenge on Bridge Hollow for hanging him, plotting to one day return for good.
That’s all just pointless superstition, says Howard.
But then, on Halloween night, Sydney claims she’s accidentally set Jack free, and he’s bringing all the Halloween decorations to life. But there’s surely a scientific explanation for it all, Howard believes.
The zombie decorations that are suddenly chomping at Howard’s neighbor? Pfft. They’re just really good animatronics.
The plastic spiders that began dropping from the artificial webs in the nursing home? Well … slightly softer pfft … those are just … hmm.
Killer clowns swinging a variety of sharp weaponry?
You know, as a man of science, Howard would do well to employ Occam’s razor on this one.
Howard wants to set Sydney up for success, so he’s convinced her to take up many hobbies that will give her a step up in life. The only problem is that Sydney doesn’t actually enjoy many of those things. Though Howard wants the best for her, he’s really unintentionally smothering her. Throughout the film, he learns that he needs to trust Sydney to make many of her own choices.
However, Howard still retains a healthy amount of control in his parenting. He says that he’s still her father, which means he still needs to protect his daughter.
Howard faces his fears in order to protect those he cares about.
The majority of this movie’s content concerns are of the spiritual variety. According to legend, after Stingy Jack was hanged for his wickedness, the devil felt sorry for him and brought him back as a jack-o’-lantern—a pumpkin carved out with the flames of hell itself.
Characters delve into other occult activities, too. Madam Hawthorne, a “spiritualist medium,” holds a seance and binds Jack to a lantern using a magical spell. She uses a grimoire (a textbook of magic) to summon Jack for the ritual. Sydney uses a Ouija board app to speak to the dead, who lead her through her home.
In the present day, the grimoire is said to have been sold to a Satanist, and our protagonists go to confront the man (whose address just so happens to start with 666). The characters say they’ve never met a “real devil worshipper” before, and they ponder whether they should be wearing crucifixes.
The man who opens the door wears a devil costume, and he claims that he isn’t a Satanist; he “just collects objects related to the eternal damnation of the human soul.” (It should be noted, however, that he says he’s a “principal in a very small town with a very big Christian population” while denying the accusation—implying he’s afraid of persecution). His home is full of various items associated with Satan and the demonic, such as a pentagram rug, a statue of Pazuzu and the skull of a goat. The Satanist yells “Holy Lucifer!”
The protagonists hold a seance led by the Satanist, who has them all chant “Show yourself, spirit” in Latin over a woman’s grave. The woman possesses Howard and informs them of what they need to do.
Later, after being saved from the possessed Halloween decorations, the Satanist throws his devil horns and tail to the ground and says “he’s on a new team,” prompting a Catholic priest to say “welcome, son!”
Howard’s neighbor, Sully, asks if Howard is a Jehovah’s Witness when Howard says they don’t decorate for Halloween. Sully also points to the sky when making a reference to a character who died in The Walking Dead. Children go ghost hunting, and one girl jokingly says they were grave digging to sell a corpse on the dark web.
AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” plays in the background of one scene. We see a portal to the underworld, and we’re told that Jack needs to trade a living soul for his own in order to return to the world permanently.
We hear a reference to a man leaving town suddenly with a mistress.
As the Halloween decorations come “alive,” they force many people into survival situations. Howard damages his home while swinging at a bat. The bat breaks through a window, and it injures Sydney, causing her to bleed slightly. Howard reflexively punches a man in the face when he gets scared by him.
Townspeople also fight zombies, and Sully shoots a couple with a gun. One zombie bites someone, leaving a mark, and the person asks someone else to shoot him so he doesn’t turn into a zombie (which is quickly refused).
Later, they are attacked by killer clowns and living skeletons, the latter of which Howard uses a chainsaw to fight. The clowns chase and swing at people while holding axes and machetes. Howard and Sydney fight a giant spider who attempts to wrap Howard up in its webbing.
A legend explains that a man was hanged for how mean he was. A man falls down a flight of stairs. Monsters get run over by a car. The film has jump scares throughout.
The s-word is used three times. “A–” is used six times, and “h—” is used as a crude word nine times. “B–tard” and “d–n” are both used once, as is “p-ss.” Additionally, “screwed” and “fricking” are also heard occasionally. God’s name is misused at least six times.
Howard’s wife, Emily, drinks a glass of wine. Sully drinks a beer, and he puts the empty bottle into a coffin full of candy set out for trick-or-treaters. People occasionally say that others are “trippin’”.
Howard says a town smells like “white privilege.” He also hotwires a car. Sully says he isn’t sure if his werewolf costume is legal due to it being made of real wolf fur. Various monsters may frighten younger audiences—such as, spiders, grim reapers, killer clowns, zombies, witches and more. A woman spits out her dentures.
I just don’t understand protagonists of horror movies that deal with the supernatural. They’re always fascinated with the occult, and a good portion of the time, the resulting conflict occurs because they messed with things that shouldn’t be messed with. If anything is described as “cursed” or “haunted,” that should be a clear no-fly zone to everyone involved. Instead, these words act like a bug zapper, and the only real question is whether or not our moths are going to escape being zapped.
Such is the case in The Curse of Bridge Hollow, where a wicked spiritual threat is brought into play by a protagonist whose interest in the supernatural overcomes her interest in self-preservation, putting the whole town in danger.
This movie deserves some credit for telling the story of a father and daughter reconciling their strained relationship. That said, there’s apparently no better way to pursue that end than by bashing in the stuffed heads of various living Halloween decorations (which, to be fair, is a very clever way to avoid spilling large amounts of blood in a movie ostensibly aimed at families).
Still, the supernatural content here will be more than enough to draw the line as the group enlists the help of a medium and a Satanist to perform seances and fight their attackers.
“There’s no hard-and-fast rules with these things,” the Satanist says of occultic practices.
Ah, but there is a rule, and it is very simple: Avoid them (Deut. 18:9-14). For as the film quickly proves, the only thing that comes from delving into the occult is spiritual danger.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”