Sunday, October 31, 2010

'Trick r Treat' is a Halloween fear fest!

Trick r Treat (2009)
Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Isabelle Deluce, Britt McClipp, Brett Kelly, and Monica Delain
Director: Michael Dougherty
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

If there's a horror movie that perfectly captures the Halloween spirit, then this is it!

"Trick r Treat" is an anthology film consisting of four interlinked and intermingled short horror tales that all start out like traditional horror tales yet provide unexpected twists that are amusing and shocking at the same time... and in a couple if cases even dish out a little poetic justice like the tales in classic horror comics like "Tales from the Crypt."

The film doesn't have a framing sequence per se, but there are two main threads running through all the stories, each of which eventually reach their conclusion when they end up serving as a major plot point in one or more of the tales. The first of these deals with a strange little boy who is wandering the streets with his treat bag late Halloween night, while the other features a pair of sisters and their friend who are "on the prowl for men," so the more shy of the sister can "do it for the first time". Meanwhile, a vampire is killing the residents of a neighborhood, and a vampire is stalking partiers in downtown alleys.

As these threads weave their way in and out the film, a school teacher is revealed to have several dark secrets, a group of kids staging a mean prank Halloween prank on a socially inept girl discover that the legend of a driver killing a bus load of "differently abled" children on Halloween eve is far more than just a scary story; an "adult party" party in the woods comes to a startling conclusion when those who arranged it reveal their true natures, and a bitter, Halloween-hating old man is set upon by what can only be described as the Spirit of Halloween Past, Present, and Future all wrapped into one.

This film is a real treat for anyone who enjoys horror movies, be they of the classic variety or of the somewhat more fast-moving, modern variety. There's something here for everyone--as is usually the case with a well-made anthology film--but what is even better is that we're treated to a whole range of classic horror movie tropes that are then spun off in unexpected and wholly satisfying directions. The film features vampires, ghosts, werewolves, mad slashers... all the figures that belong in Halloween. But the each come with a fun twist that adds a trick with each treat. The stalker of innocent victims ends up stalked himself, the Halloween bullies find the tables turned on them in the most shocking of ways, and the Scrooge-like Halloween-hater gets some "Halloween Carol" action that will stay with the viewer for a long time.

With great looking sets and even better cinematography and lighting, with a great cast performing clever and spooky tales of terror, first-time director Michael Dougherty has delivered the best horror anthology film I've seen in a very, very long time. It's a far better film that its direct-to-DVD release indicates, and it should become a new Halloween tradition in any horror-lover's household. (Except maybe those with young children... but adults will have a blast with this one, even on repeated viewings.)

And with this review, the 31 Nights of Halloween come to a close for another year. I hope everyone out there has a spooktacular time tonight!


  1. I watched Trick R’ Treat for the first time as a part of my 14th Annual Scare-a-thon last year and loved the atmosphere and sometimes subtle scares it produced. It is indeed an “anthology” film as you put it, but it doesn’t feel like one because of the clever use of location to connect the various storylines. Robert Rodrigues used a similar devise in his Sin City film, in which he adapted several different storylines from Frank Miller’s different graphic novels. As you say, Trick R’ Treat does indeed have “something for everyone” and that may be why it was so difficult for the studio to market. It’s sad that the only way a horror film can get onto the 1000s of screens required to make that big opening weekend money is a) a gimmick (as the Paranormal films), b) a big name director or c) star power. It used to be that these didn’t apply to the horror genre, but now that the executives of the major studios have discovered that horror films can make millions for a smaller cost, they’re applying their dumb marketing strategies to horror as well.

  2. Sad part is, it probably could have done well in theaters if released close to Halloween. (I think it was actually slated for a theatrical release, but that Warner pulled it at the last minute because they were afraid of another financial failure like "Superman Returns".)