The anthology film is a proud and storied tradition in the horror genre, producing such favorites as Tales from the Darkside, Cat’s Eye, Trilogy of Terror, The Twilight Zone Movie, Tales from the Hood, and even the contemporary gems like Trick ‘r Treat and the polarizing V/H/S franchise. It’s a way to take ideas and stories that would otherwise not be able to make it to feature film length and use them as part of a larger narrative. Christopher M. Carter’s One Night in October could be considered the most recent entry in this tradition. Marketed as a cross between The Purge and Creepshow, it follows three groups of people on Halloween night and the mayhem they encounter.
A hard and fast rule for me when it comes to anthology films is that they live and die by their wraparound story; that is, the overarching connective tissue that binds all the films together. Trick ‘r Treat plays loosest with this concept, having all the stories run parallel to one another and in the tying them up, but ultimately this creative decision works for that film.
One Night In October is a film that attempts to use this same concept: three stories all happening at the same time in the same town on Halloween night. Unfortunately, the movies attempts at linking all three seems to be limited to them all happening on Halloween night and little else. The stories themselves are all rather interesting in theory, but in practice they’re clunky and overwrought. The acting ranges from scene-chewing melodrama to at times feeling like the actors would rather be anywhere else than making the movie, and I think this melodramatic tendency is what weighs the movie down the most. There is little time dedicated to really developing the characters in any meaningful way that would get us to care about them, so when these really powerful emotional moments are heaped upon them it just feels forced and awkward. The flow of the narrative is choppy and uneven, either being somewhat appealing in that very little is actually explained and left open for interpretation or just flat-out blatant exposition that seems badly ad libbed.
The comparison to Creepshow is obvious in that it’s attempting to be a classic horror anthology film, but describing the film of being something like The Purge just seems ill-advised, as this movie is nothing like The Purge except that one thread involves a group of burglars who wear masks and get more than they bargained for when their victim turns the tables on them.
I don’t like dwelling on what I didn’t like about a film, and I’m a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. Like I said One Night in October does have some neat ideas threaded through the narrative, and I appreciate the representation of LGBTQ characters. It certainly gets an A for effort as it constantly tries to be more than it has any right to be, and any lackadaisical effort by any of the actors is offset by the overshooting the mark most of the actors have in this film. The production company behind it should be commended for getting this movie made and trying to tell a fun story, so I can’t say anything too bad about them, but this movie wasn’t for me honestly. By all means I encourage people to see it, because people did go through the effort to make it and they were successful in doing so, so that alone merits giving One Night in October a chance, but for me personally it wasn’t my thing.