A lighthearted offering to Netflix’s Halloween calendar, yet slow and disingenuous at times.
This review of the Netflix film The Curse of Bridge Hollow does not contain spoilers.
From director Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare) comes The Curse of Bridge Hollow, a Halloween-themed comedy about a father-daughter duo who team up to defeat a spooky threat in their new town. Priah Ferguson (of Stranger Things fame) stars as teenager Sydney, whose parents (Marlon Wayans and Kelly Rowland) made her move from Brooklyn to the small town of Bridge Hollow, a town considered the safest in the country (For 10 years running, according to the volunteer mayor).
Initially unenthused about the move, the young girl starts warming up to the town after seeing how much effort Bridge Hollow residents put into their Halloween decorations. The first few minutes of the movie make a point of showing us how much of a control freak dad is. He is against celebrating Halloween, he made Sydney take karate classes instead of the ballet she wanted and he made her join the science club because he himself is a science teacher. It’s hardly a surprise when the young girl finally rebels, buys some Halloween decorations, lights up a turnip lantern (which may also be a pumpkin) and inadvertently unleashes an evil spirit on the town named Stingy Jack. While Sydney’s mom is busy selling inedible baked goods at the town’s fair, it’s up to the teen and her logic-driven dad to save the town from Stingy Jack and the Halloween decorations it brought to life.
While there’s nothing new about the premise, the film did a fantastic job with the spooky witches, zombies and clown decorations unleashed on the town. Not exactly scary, but certainly entertaining to watch. Most characters are one-dimensional and every genuinely funny moment had already been revealed in the trailer. It seemed like the film tried too hard to be a laugh-out-loud comedy and many of the jokes fell flat. Marlon Wayans’s character compared the start of the curse with a virus because it “started with a bat.” Kelly Rowland’s sole contribution to the film was her character’s obsession with feeding the townsfolk gluten-free vegan cakes that apparently taste awful. They also tried portraying the dad’s obsession with controlling his daughter in every possible way as endearing. It came across as a bit weird. As did his hatred of Halloween. The film spends the entire first half portraying Sydney’s dad as an anti-fun science guy, and when he finally agrees to help her solve the mystery it comes across as disingenuous.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow is a lighthearted offering to Netflix’s Halloween calendar. It’s fun to watch spooky decorations come to life. There are some enjoyable moments courtesy of supporting cast members such as John Michael Higgins and Lauren Lapkus. Priah Ferguson does a great job as an exasperated teen trying to get through to her headstrong dad. The story, while a bit ridiculous, is interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged. It’s a silly film fully aware of its own silliness. However, despite only a 90-min run, it felt a bit slow and was filled with many unnecessary scenes and obscure pop-culture references.
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