The Curse of Bridge Hollow (2022)

The Curse of Bridge Hollow is approximately as generic as its title. It sounds like a filler movie that will slide off your brain as soon as it makes contact, and that’s exactly what it is, which is not quite the same thing as a bad movie. In fact, The Curse of Bridge Hollow is a sturdy and occasionally even amusing as a family Halloween comedy.

Howard Gordon (Marlon Wayans) and his family, daughter Sydney (Priah Ferguson) and wife Emily (Kelly Rowland!), are moving from Brooklyn to a sleepy New England town a couple days before Halloween. Much to the chagrin of Howard, a hard-nosed skeptic of the supernatural, the town is obsessed with Halloween decorations and basic suburban spooky spirit. Howard and Sydney, who’s not thrilled about the move, frequently butt heads.

Sydney discovers a cursed Halloween lantern in their house, and when Howard lights it, the cursed spirit of “Stingy Jack,” supposedly the namesake of jack o’ lanterns, is unleashed, bringing all the extravagant Halloween decorations from around town to life. This is a pretty fun visual premise, as we get a wide variety of creatures on screen and interacting with characters. Unfortunately, the movie is hindered with some mediocre CGI that dampens the impact on the immersion within these scenes.

Everything about the screenplay is textbook Robert McKee-esque craftsmanship — functional but formulaic. Every character gets a plot thread and some development, the majority of jokes and character details get one payoff or another, and it flows fairly smoothly. It is a pleasant and brisk story, something I can imagine tweens getting a major kick out of, but there are zero surprises to be found.

Wayans is exactly the right person for the lead role, bringing solid comedy chops and energy. He carries the film to watchability for the duration. Ferguson is underwhelming as the teen star, but it’s not enough to really deflate the film. Rowland is lovely, but shunted to the side in a sitcom plot about selling healthy foods at festival bake sale.

The supporting cast has some fun turns. Rob Riggle shows up to be a slightly douchey neighbor, and Nia Vardalos, the former star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, appears as an psychic medium. My favorite minor role is John Michael Higgins as the school principal who is secretly Satanic; I am gradually becoming convinced that Higgins is the funniest actor in America, able to elevate material of any level (see: Status Update).

It’s a reasonable way to spend 90 minutes if you have some kids or are a sucker for easygoing family comedy that is horror in flavor, but not remotely scary. There are maybe two mildly tense action scenes in the film, but never in a way that threatens to disturb the featherweight, all-ages tone. A bit of edge might have made this one more enticing and worth rewatching in future years, but then again, I don’t think anyone involved wanted this to be anything more than pleasantly diverting. Mission accomplished.

Is It Good?

Nearly Good (4/8)

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