Trick R Treat **1/2
One Liner Review:
Surprisingly a pretty scary and entertaining film that interweaves between five stories on one dreadful halloween night.
This is a pretty cool movie, very much like a series of tales from the crypt episodes, all taking place in the same night, in the same town, on halloween. there are at least four different stories here, all of them about characters getting punished in unique ways. this movie mixes monsters with serial killers and ghosts and plays around with the idea that because it is halloween, nobody notices anything strange. blood looks normal, for example, because it looks like it’s part of a costume. the premise is cool, and so are some of the stories, but as the movie gets into it’s second half, and realism is traded in for the supernatural, the ideas start to get sacrificed. the first half is far better than the second half here, but it is still a pretty good movie.
Trick R Treat is a movie that the studio decided to release directly to home video. that really stinks considering that it is better than half of the things they release into theaters. it’s a horror movie about one halloween night, which is a cool concept unto itself. obviously it’s been done before with the halloween movies, but that’s about it. you would think halloween and horror movies would go together more often, but for some reason most horror movies end up being the same old thing, about a serial killer or a child who is a possessed. Trick R Treat is something different.
it’s different because instead of being one story about a character or group of characters, it is actually four stories. they do interlace with each other, the way most short story films do, only here the interlacing is only slight. and that’s a good thing. a character, for example, will have his own story, and then while he’s having it will look across the street and see another one of the characters from another story in the house next door. this works out because characters from other stories do not really effect the story that is taking place, and by employing that strategy, the movie is really able to tell four complete stories. this is so much better than the kind of movie where the filmmaker ends up saying, “well. i think it’s all really one story, and the different characters represent different parts to the same story.” give me a break. Trick R Treat is luckily much smarter than that.
i also like how all four stories happen on the same night, which makes this single halloween night more of an event. movies that place entirely in one night are usually pretty cool. but that’s just one of many clever ideas this movie uses. another one is that the stories are chopped up and cut back and forth, so that we move from one to the next, with a fractured narrative. this means that we are constantly involved in a number of stories at once, and when we’ve had our fill of one, we just jump to the next one. the strategy also enables the movie to keep us guessing and interested and wanting to know more, the way a cliffhanger at the end of a show would. only brian cox’s story is saved, in it’s entirety, for the end. and dylan baker’s is pretty much told at the beginning. but the other two stories go back and forth throughout the middle of the film.
the movie begins with the town at night and news reports about how this town takes halloween more seriously than others. here it is a major holiday that everyone celebrates, and the town even has a halloween parade. we see a young couple returning home, dressed in costumes, tired and ready to call it a night. the man goes inside while the woman stays to blow out the candles in the jack o’ lanterns. he warns her against it, saying that you are supposed to let them burn out and leave them all night, but she doesn’t listen. and as she is left there, alone, blowing them out, she is killed. we don’t really see the killer, but when the boyfriend comes back out, looking for her, we see the way the killer left her, out on display, almost like drew barrymore hanging from the tree, in the beginning of scream.
that first scene was kind of like an introduction to the movie. the couple will come in again at the very end of the film, bookending the film, as we get to see a little more about what happened to them, but their story is not one of the main ones. dylan baker, on the other hand, does have a main story. he plays a principal named steven, who is at home with his young son. they have left a bunch of candy out on the porch with a sign asking trick or treaters to be on their honor system. when an overweight boy, who has been smashing all the jack o’ lanterns in the neighborhood, comes up and takes more than his share, he gets an unusual surprise.
the first story is about what happens between steven and this overweight boy. he and the boy sit on the porch, eating candy together, but when the boy has a reaction to the candy, the movie suddenly goes in a completely unexpected direction. there’s a cool scene down in the basement, where steven and his son seem ready to carve up a jack o’ lantern, and the movie does a nice job of playing with the audience’s expectations here.
after steven’s story, we see a bunch of kids come to the principal’s house and ring his bell looking for candy. he is covered in blood, all across one of his shoulders, but since it is halloween, the kids just think it is a cool costume. they continue on their way, and we will join back with them for another one of the stories later on. but first there is a quick scene with a masked man killing a young woman and leaving her body sitting on a bench out on the street. nobody notices anything since it is halloween, and there are fake dead bodies everywhere as decorations.
the next story involves anna paquin and a bunch of hot girlfriends dressing up, trying on different fairy tale character costumes. these girls all look amazing, and they go off trying to pick up guys to bring to a party. it does seem strange that these girls don’t have boyfriends and that each one of them is trying to pick up a guy who seems kind of lame, but that just makes us want to know more. are these girls really gonna get with these guys?
the third story is the best. it involves a legend about a school bus filled with disturbed kids who were wearing masks to school one day, since it was halloween. the bus driver was paid to kill them all by their parents, and to drive the bus over the side of a quarry. the kids were the town’s dirty little secret, and their parents had had enough. that’s the legend. the story that we watch has four kids take jack o’ lanterns over to the quarry to leave them by the side of the lake as a sort of sacrifice to the eight dead kids. this story is good for a while, great when we are hearing about the legend, but then not as clever as it goes on. we are more than halfway into the movie, and suddenly things have taken a turn.
the supernatural / monster vibe that started with the kids in the quary story continues for the rest of the film. it works it’s way into the anna paquin story and then comes into play with the final story involving brian cox, as an old man, with a secret. he gets an unexpected visitor in the form of a little kid out for vengeance. all four stories have a sort of lesson to them, where bad characters get punished, and that is very much in the spirit of the tales from the crypt horror tv show, from a while back. i love that these stories are all very different. i also love that there are plenty of secrets and twists here that all come out by the end. anything that we wonder about during the movie, we do find the answer to by the end of the film. we learn who certain characters really are, and the reasons why certain things happened. it’s not a great movie, mainly because of the way it goes the monster – ghost route for it’s ending, but up until that it was pretty cool. the movie certainly has a lot of neat things going on, and a lot of smart plot ideas. and best of all, it’s actually scary. this is definitely a worthwhile film.