Ryan McGonagle’s Black Pumpkin is both a sequel to his 2016 movie Bloody Bobby and a love-letter to the carnage-filled horror films of his youth. While it might work as a sequel (though my understanding, which might be incorrect, is that aside from the killer, the two plots do not intersect), it is a far cry from the movies it so clearly draws inspiration. This generic, trope-filled mess is populated by selfish characters who are impossible to empathize with or like. As such, the audience is left dull and slightly confused by the whole affair.
Barbara Peterson (Tasha Dixon) is a single mother to older teen Laurie (Ellie Patrikios), tween Elliot (Dogen Eyeler), and 8-year-old, or so, Regan (Gemma Brooke Allen). Elliot and his best friend, Pork Chop (Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick), make a short documentary about their town’s spooky urban legend for a school project. In doing so, they inadvertently summon Bloody Bobby (Jo Osmond), who seeks to kill everyone, especially the Petersons.
“…they inadvertently summon Bloody Bobby, who seeks to kill everyone…”
My biggest problem with Black Pumpkin is summed up in a seemingly innocuous exchange between Barbara and Laurie. The mother tells her eldest child that she needs to watch the younger ones for the next two nights, as Barbara picked up an extra shift at work. Laurie, who already feels like she’s their mother, objects as the school’s fall dance is this very night. Why are the few lines the two exchange over this such a big deal? Because they highlight how selfish everyone is throughout the movie. The Petersons live in a lovely house in a nice neighborhood, and no mention of overdue bills or threats of repossession ever happen. So, Barbara must not be taking the extra shift due to monetary needs. She is a nurse, so maybe the hospital is just shorthanded during the holidays? That makes sense, but why then inconvenience her children?
See, she knew when the dance was and clearly already agreed to let Laurie attend. But, she takes the shift anyway, and without even trying to get a babysitter, she demands Laurie watch her brother and sister. She also allows Pork Chop to stay over for the Halloween weekend, adding an extra body to oversee. Why not send Elliot, who is plenty old enough to watch Regan by himself, to Pork Chop’s house? Then, get a friend of Regan’s to take the horror obsessed child out trick or treating and babysit for just a few hours after, and have Laurie pick her up once she leaves the dance. But, nope, the mom is only thinking of what she wants, making her truly selfish.
If it were just her, that would be okay, but, aside from Pork Chop, all the characters are self-obsessed and care only for their wants and needs. Laurie shirks off her unjustly forced responsibilities to see her boyfriend and attend the dance. While Elliot does take Regan out for candy, once home, he never checks on her or asks if she wants a slice of the pizza he’s making in the oven. Regan loves horror and wants to scare everyone out of their wits, and those are her only traits.
"…offers nothing of value, not even mindless entertainment."