It has been a long time since I have watched a film successfully try to emulate the Hocus Pocus formula, appealing to younger viewers whilst serving as a gateway for future horror fans. Enter: Netflix’s The Curse of Bridge Hollow, a delightful, if slight, new feature from director Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare, Cry Wolf) and screenwriters Todd Berger (The Happytime Murders, It’s a Disaster) and Ryan Rugan. Imagine a scenario in which one’s Halloween decorations would actually come to life to wreak havoc, and one will be close to the general logline of this silly but entertaining little fright fest.
Sydney (Priah Ferguson, The Oath, Stranger Things) and her family have just moved from bustling Brooklyn to the quaint town of Bridge Hollow, the “safest town in the U.S.” Sydney’s father, Howard (Marlon Wayans, Scary Movie, Requiem for a Dream), a Halloween-hating science teacher, and Sydney’s sweet baking-loving mother, Emily (Kelly Rowland, Freddy vs. Jason, Empire), are doing their best to endure Syd’s awkward teen phase. Bridge Hollow goes big on Halloween—hell, even the mayor drives a huge pumpkin car. The legend of Stingy Jack is the talk of the town around these parts. An apparent old Irish legend, Jack allegedly returns every Halloween to exact revenge on the villagers that wronged him, courtesy of a lit pumpkin “carved from the fires of hell!”
Naturally, it doesn’t take long for said pumpkin to get lit, just like the Black Flame candle of Hocus Pocus. Decorations begin to come alive. Animatronic witches fly away on their broomsticks, and a black cat hobbles along in a nearly 2D shape. Similar to Hocus Pocus as well is the family working together to retrieve a spell book that could end the curse once and for all. There is a reason that formula is so successful in general, and at least The Curse of Bridge Hollow allows itself to revel in the inherent silliness of the premise. Marlon Wayans fighting against giant spider, getting wrapped in its webbing, reminded me of a scene in Scary Movie 2 where he gets rolled up and lit like a massive joint. When the family—and a group of Syd’s paranormal society friends—get chased by a zombie football team, I knew this movie had a true sense of what works about dark comedy.
Overall, The Curse of Bridge Hollow will serve as a fun family distraction that parents can throw on while carving up their annual spooky pumpkins. Wayans might steal the show, but that doesn’t mean the whole film isn’t worth watching at least once. I had a pretty great time with it, and it accomplished its primary job of really getting me in the Halloween spirit. For the children of today, I can see this becoming a modern cult classic they can easily rewatch thanks to its availability on Netflix.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow will brings your decorations to life when it crash-lands in your home, coming exclusively to Netflix on Friday, October 14th.