Tubi Or Not To Be’ is a series in which each day a member (or members) of the film world (be they an actor, writer, director, critic, podcaster, etc.) tackles a film from Tubi. The only catch being that the film must be one the viewer has either never heard of or never watched before. It’s an intrinsically silly idea, but one that should prove to be a bit of fun.
Who’s ready for Halloween in July? (Answer: Me Me Me!) It was just this desire that led me to clicking on Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s as I was scrolling through the Tubi offerings. The poster is littered with jack o’lanterns and goddamnit, I need that “Halloween Feeling” in my life right now.
So how did this work out, you ask? You know when you’re out at a bar or a party (or maybe just on Twitter) and you meet some guy who thinks he is the funniest most clever person who has ever graced the earth? He gets off one or two clever jokes, but then tries way too hard and ultimately just makes the interaction feel forced and awkward?
That’s Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s. It lures you in with a couple of funny lines (one of which involves the phrase “butt stuff” which never fails to make me laugh, because in my heart of hearts, I am twelve years old). And then it proceeds to run its jokes into the ground and smother you with humor that outstays its welcome before it even lands.
The film centers around the small town rumor of Old Aunt Ethel (Gail Yost), a woman who supposedly murdered her entire family one Halloween night, and ever since has kidnapped neighborhood children every year and turns them into candy. Melissa (Madeline Murphy) begins to grow suspicious upon learning of these rumors, and fears that Ethel might be at it again, as Halloween approaches.
It’s a pretty simple premise, that yes, is kind of a standard among horror films, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Writer/director Joseph Mazzaferro tries to use it as a jumping off point for a horror comedy, but unfortunately, the movie just kind of falls flat. It’s something of a fratboy in film form – maybe amusing for the first couple of minutes, but quickly becomes way too confident in itself. Yet it also offers some pre-Halloween fun, which in a COVID world, is so appreciated that you might just tolerate multiple overplayed masturbation jokes just to bask in
the soft orange glow of tiny Halloween house lights.
This movie is a bit tricky, though, because as soon as you want to turn it off, it gets some of its shit together, ups the ante and gives you the ending that you never expected and kind of love. Sometimes, you need to go on the offensive to stop the town psycho and to save Halloween.
Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s isn’t a strong winner, but it has a few things going for it – most importantly that it will scratch that mid-summer Halloween itch that we all get and have to find a way to satiate until Labor Day. I wouldn’t recommend it highly, but if you need to get that Halloween vibe into your soul, it can definitely help.