Review: Trick’r Treat (2008)

Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox

Written and Directed by: Michael Dougherty

 

It took a long time, but after many years on the shelf, Trick ‘r Treat has finally seen a release on DVD. After watching this film, I am disappointed that it never got a full-on theatrical run like it was once promised because this is one of the best Halloween-themed horror movies I have ever seen.

This film is a horror anthology encompassing four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween night in the small town of Warren Valley, Ohio. Steven (Dylan Baker) is a school principal who on Halloween night goes on a mini-killing spree. As this goes on, Laurie (Anna Paquin) is brought out to a party by her sister and her sister’s friends to finally lose her virginity. While thatoccurs, three kids take out an idiot savant fellow student with the intent to prank her, but the prank goes awry in an unexpected way. Finally, an old recluse (Brian Cox) is terrorized by a trick or treater who refuses to take “no candy!” for an answer.

As a fan of the 1981 film Creepshow, I’m already predisposed to loving horror anthologies, but Trick ‘r Treat makes that movie look amateur in comparison. Outside of the Halloween series itself, this may be the best “All Hallow’s Eve” movie ever made. The four stories are interwoven seamlessly, as all the characters in each part come into contact with each other in small (and some not so small) ways. The story is told in a cut up comic-book way (the opening credits are animated in the style of a comic book, seemingly paying homage to Creepshow), jumping from each of the stories and even through time itself. Some stories take place at the same time as others, some take place before, and some even take place after. It’s like Pulp Fiction for horror fans, but a lot shorter and a lot less Phil LaMarr (which is a bad thing, but I’ll forgive Mike Dougherty for it).

Dylan Baker, as usual, does an excellent job. I became a big fan of his after watching Happiness, and he keeps up his “shady creepy guy” routine in this. He infuses his character with both sadistic and comedic tones and mixes it together to form a character that is a joy to watch, even when he is burying bodies or carving jack-o-lanterns. The rest of the cast also does a great job, especially the kids in the film. After watching so many horrible child actors in so many horrible movies growing up, it was a joy to see some that could actually act and not be completely offended every time they came on screen. Their segment, which revolves around a “school bus massacre” urban legend, is the best in the film, bar none. The only point where I even had a wandering eye had to do with Brian Cox’s story, but that quickly subsided once they threw in his connection with the other stories. I won’t spoil it, but I audibly said “goddamn!” when it occurred.

Trick ‘r Treat is an absolute riot to watch, a horror film that manages to be scary enough for horror fans and campy enough that non-horror fans can watch and not have a heart attack. This is definitely worth repeat viewings so you can connect the dots of the interwoven story, and should become a Halloween tradition for any film buff…right after the firstHalloween of course.

 

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