Marlon Wayans is a frequent presence in comedic horror mashups and they’ve been of the R rated variety with Scary Movie and its first sequel and A Haunted House and its follow-up. On the Netflix circuit, The Curse of Bridge Hollow ditches the scatological humor for a family friendly concoction about a Halloween obsessed town where the decorations come to life. It’s not hard to envision Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy in the Dad role that Wayans fills. In fact, Sandler mined similar territory recently with Hubie Halloween. This one isn’t exactly a treat, but I found it more tolerable than that one.
Howard Gordon (Wayans) is a science teacher transported from Brooklyn to Bridge Hollow, a small New England town that looks quaint but is far from it. The residents wear their Patriots jerseys loudly and talk even more thunderously about the town’s spooky history. It involves the tale of Stingy Jack, whose mythology gave us the Jack-o’-lantern. You don’t want to wake him and that’s precisely what Howard’s teenage daughter Sydney does when they settle into their haunted house. She’s played by Priah Ferguson, a consistent bright spot on Netflix’s Stranger Things. The father/daughter relationship is a cliched one with Howard as the overbearing holiday skeptic who just needs to listen more. Mom (Kelly Rowland) really gets the short shrift. Her defining character trait is that she bakes inedible vegan desserts. The screenplay could’ve done better than “the wife can’t cook” material for the former Destiny’s Child and Freddy vs. Jason star.
Priah and Dad must get over their differences as they battle a slew of creatures of the crawly and skeletal variety. The special effects aren’t half bad. Hollow is aimed squarely at delighting kids and placating the adult supervision. It’s an easy and breezy watch and Wayans seems committed to the part. That’s more than I could say for Murphy, who appeared downright bored in The Haunted Mansion. Ferguson, on the other hand, doesn’t quite get to display the personality that’s so winning on her smash hit role as Erica Sinclair. A few chuckles come from a supporting cast including Rob Riggle, John Michael Higgins, and Lauren Lapkus as Bridge Hollow’s very New England accented Mayor.
Jeff Wadlow, whose traditional scary movies Truth or Dare and Fantasy Island were subpar, directs. Bridge Hollow is better than either of them. I realize all of my compliments likely sound hollow. That’s not inaccurate, but youngsters could do worse than dialing this up and the more seasoned viewer shouldn’t curse themselves for having to watch it.
**1/2 (out of four)