Ryan McGonagle’s directorial debut Black Pumpkin is a film that wears its influences on its sleeves. If you have seen any 80’s horror before then you have seen this film BUT that is Black Pumpkin’s biggest strength. In fact I would say they more movies you have seen the more you will enjoy the film. McGonagle pays tribute to those who came before him in a big way, be it through mise en scène, camera angles, dialogue and easter eggs, and leaves fans of the genre more than satisfied with the experience.
At its core, Black Pumpkin is an urban legend movie that focus of the mysterious Bloody Bobby. In the pre-credits scene (which we later learn is in the past) we see how some of that legend was established in a scene which is a media masterclass on horror. From The Night of The Living Dead playing on the TV and punctuating key plot points, to a number of horror tropes you will know and love through to the amazing 80s synth stylings of Chris Kooreman and Edo Plasschaert. This soundtrack continues through the movie and becomes one of the key elements to its success.
After the credits we join the modern day and it is of course October 31st in a small town in America! There we meet a whole host of young people that tick most of the stereotypes you would expect in such a film including Laurie Peterson (played by Ellie Patrikios), her younger brother Elliot (played by Dogen Eyeler) and his best friend Lawrence “Pork Chop” Chubbs played by (Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick). Whilst making a youtube video about their town’s scary history at place known to locals as Diablo’s Den, Elliot and Lawrence accidentally awaken an evil that has lain dormant for decades (Bloody Bobby). As the night progresses so does the death toll. Various teens break the known horror rules and pay the consequences whilst others are left in a battle to survive the night!
Verdict: 7/10. Yes you know what is coming but that is the point. Black Pumpkin plays in a way similar to Scream. It is full of things for horror fans to love yet remains commited to delivering them in the best way possible to its audience. It is an enjoyable ride through a scary halloween night that envokes memories of horror film’s past. My only regret is that I couldn’t hire this from a video store – then I would have had the full experience of my twisted youth!