Everyone loves a season-specific romantic comedy – something you can stick on at the same time every year to make you believe in love again. We all do our yearly rewatch of The Holiday and Love, Actually around Christmas, or Mamma Mia to get us in the mood for summer. But Halloween rom-coms? Nowhere to be seen. Try Google and you’ll get a list of films that are either not quite Halloween movies or not quite rom-coms. Heathers is a classic, sure, but we can all agree that it falls in neither category.
Spooky season does however make a guest appearance in a handful of rom-coms, often used as a plot device for furthering the story.
Take the Halloween dance in A Cinderella Story, for example. A costume party was an easy way for Sam, aka PrincetonGirl818 (played by Hillary Duff), to keep her identity a secret at a small high school dance – Sam arrived as a masked Cinderella, while her online love Austin (Chad Michael Murray) went as Prince Charming. It was the perfect romantic ruse. Couples meeting in complimentary costumes should be a trope as overused as the hardened career woman falling for a small town guy who teaches her the magic of Christmas.
It’s not like Hollywood doesn’t know that the idea of a costumed meet cute is objectively romantic and hilarious. In The Five Year Engagement, Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segel) meet at a fancy dress party – on New Year’s Eve, to be fair, but it could have just as easily been Halloween. Dressed as Lady Diana and a giant rabbit, respectively, the image of the people’s princess making out with a six-foot-four bunny is certainly one that sticks with you.
So why haven’t more films capitalised on the comedic potential of equally weird pairings? We need to see Dracula snogging a giant hot dog, a Stormtrooper chatting up Elle Woods, a three-way, meme-worthy Spider-Man kiss. Silly little costumes that lead to sexy little flings.
Netflix original When We First Met goes above and beyond in this department. Starring Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect) and Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus), it sees Devine’s character go back in time to the night he first met the girl of his dreams, each time switching up his Halloween costume in the hope of winning her affections. He tries being the suave guy who sweeps you off your feet (James Bond), the dickhead who’s too cool for a costume, and the stable guy you want to build a life with (the American Dream in a red, white, and blue onesie).
This is a perfect example of how Halloween gives us the opportunity to really express ourselves, on the one night of the year when you’re allowed to be someone else. Whether you go scary, sexy, funny or punny, reference a zeitgeisty pop culture moment or can’t be arsed at all, it’s a reflection of the individual. Instant character building delivered on a silver platter, we say.
You might be thinking: “Halloween should be creepy, not cute! How can people fall in love on the most frightening night of the year?” Well, you’re forgetting that storytellers have long used the paranormal as a romantic device, from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights to Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Admittedly, the tone of those tales is a little more sombre, but that’s not because spooky stuff can’t be funny.
Horror comedies are all the rage right now. Just look at Gen‑Z bloodbath Bodies Bodies Bodies and cannibal cautionary tale Fresh, both of which have romantic subplots that take a dark turn. The thing is, in horror films, romance usually leads to a grisly death. Slasher flicks often feature scenes of young lovers in moments of passion, directly before they’re brutally murdered, which isn’t quite the happy ending we’re looking for.
Then there’s the Final Girl, who when you think about it, is often treated like an unrequited love interest, as the killer pursues her in an obsessive, terrifying courtship. Thirteen films later, Jamie Lee Curtis’ constant reprisal of Laurie in the Halloween franchise is perhaps the ultimate “one that got away”.
See, the potential is there. All the elements of a Halloween rom-com have already been individually executed, they just need to be merged together. I want to see two romantic leads wearing monster make-up publicly profess their love for each other while trick or treating. Give me star-crossed lovers who work at rival haunted houses, or two people who meet when they reach for the same bag of cobwebs in the Halloween section of the supermarket. Instead of an opening aerial shot of a large city set to Candy Cane Lane or Winter Wonderland, why not Monster Mash while the camera pans over a graveyard?
Halloween is the season for horror, yes, but there’s nothing more terrifying than falling in love.