Movie Review: Trick ‘r Treat

“It stinks like a dead whore out here.”

“Isn’t it just purrrrrfect?”

Meet Sam. Sam will be your guide this evening...

Trick ‘r Treat is a rarely seen gem—a bout of classy, classic terror, devoid of many of the modern tropes that hold the genre back.

Trick ‘r Treat is actually four stories bound into one—five if you count the brief intro, though the lady there doesn’t really last long enough to make it count. All of the tales are interconnected in small ways, joined in celebration of that fabulous horror night: Ol’ Hallow’s Eve. Characters make guest appearances in other characters’ tales, and all are going on at once. It’s episodic, but they’re going off simultaneously. The only trait that remains consistent through them all, is our guide: Sam. Sam is a rambunctious little enforcer of holiday traditions. He’s also got a bit of a homicidal thing going on, but hey, you can’t hold that against the little rascal. If people would just follow the rules of Halloween, they’d be fine.

Unfortunately, our star characters don’t exactly take to them.

Here’s the rules:

  1. Keep the jack-o-lanterns lit; they’ll protect you.
  2. Always check your candy
  3. Always stay on sidewalks.
  4. Never go to a stranger’s house.
  5. Never go out alone.
  6. Wear a costume!
  7. Always hand out treats.

The unfortunate cast are a motley crew of messed up people: a murderous principal (Dylan Baker), a “virginal” little red riding hood (Anna Paquin), a grouchy old man with a shotgun and a dog (Brian Cox), and a gaggle of children out to play a cruel trick.

Anna Paquin as "Laurie," the dear Little Red Riding Hood.

The movie is a mix of dark humor and spooky storytelling. Writer/director Michael Dougherty knows his audience, so you still get a few of your usual sickening horror moments, but these are mostly toward the beginning, and then they are gone. The blood and guts is not the focus. This is not a traditional horror film. It has twists on the classic tales, and in many cases a lot of the action is taking place off-scene. Still, it utilizes great sound effects and a fantastic art design to distinguish this one from its peers. I don’t normally find myself going off about the beauty of horror movie art, but this one had its stuff down. The art style was fantastic, and very vivid—ironically full of life. It also has this whole comic-like theme going to it that is continuously played up—certainly a unique take. The cinematography and editing were smooth, and despite the independent feel to the film, the production values seemed quite high. The stories have flow, and lack the choppy feel many of these vignette-style pieces often descend into.

The movie manages to maintain a subtle undercurrent of comedy throughout its otherwise gruesome themes. The script is genuinely entertaining and the characters are certainly unique. I must also give sincere kudos to the play-up of the old Vampire vs. Werewolf thing. Love it. Werewolves for the win, people—deal with it.

Anyone makes a Twilight reference now, I hunt them down and bash their skulls in.

This encounter ends very badly for one of them.

The dark twist to the Little Red Riding Hood tale was one I especially liked—featuring one of the coolest werewolf transformations since An American Werewolf in London. Laurie, our dear little red, also really struck me. This is not to say I didn’t feel for Rhonda (who’s distinctly not a retard—she’s an idiot savant, as the children say), who had to deal with a ruthless trick by her peers. Suffice to say, the revenge she got was very satisfying for me. Remember kiddies: never pick on the little guy.

Which brings me to one final point. Blood and guts may not be too terribly prevalent in this one, but if you’re squeamish, you should probably know that whole horror thing about children surviving…yeah, that’s tossed out here. A lot of children die in this one, and very gruesomely from the sounds of it.

As far as horror movies go, Trick ‘r Treat would definitely make a fun addition to any Halloween collection. Just remember: Sam is watching.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

~ by Chris G. on May 5, 2010.

One Response to “Movie Review: Trick ‘r Treat”

  1. sounds like an awesome film

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