Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Poison, Drowning, Claw, Or Knife. So Many Ways To Take A Life.

It is said that Halloween is the night when the dead rise to walk among us and other unspeakable things roam free. The rituals of All Hallows Eve were devised to protect us from their evil mischief and one small town is about to be taught a terrifying lesson that some traditions are best not forgotten. Nothing is what it seems when a suburban couple learns the dangers of blowing out a Jack-o-Lantern before midnight; four women cross paths with a costumed stalker at a local festival; a group of pranksters goes too far and discovers the horrifying truth buried in a local legend; and a cantankerous old hermit is visited by a strange trick-or-treater who has a few bones to pick with him.

 

I had low expectations for this anthology film which is similar to the likes of Creepshow and some of the older Amicus films from the 60s and 70s. Anthologies aren’t in fashion and haven’t been for a while because there’s no main character and no main story – two things which younger audiences today would find quite hard to comprehend. So it was a bit of a gamble to make one in today’s horror environment where torture porn is the norm and gore and violence are demanded by a bloodthirsty audience.

Halloween night is the theme and there are a few interwoven stories which run alongside each other and cross over at varying instances. Each mini-story has its own twist at the end until the film goes full circle and ends right back where we started. However I did not expect Trick ‘r Treat to be this entertaining.

Trick ‘r Treat is pretty hard to review in all honesty because it’s just a great film. Effortlessly charming, it isn’t scary, it’s not particularly gory and the stories don’t have a lot of depth to them. But the vibe of the film just reeks of the classic Halloween spirit and all of the fun and ghostly goings-on that surround October 31st. It’s delightfully morbid, full of bad taste, black humour, knowing winks to the genre and a general love and appreciation for not only the fun side of Halloween but also of the ghost stories, the urban legends and things that go bump in the night – the sinister side that we’ve all come to love. The film captures the spirit of Halloween down to a tee and it’s got one of the best atmospheres I can recall in a recent horror film. It looks superb for a start and a lot of attention has been paid to minute details. This is your typical haunted house ride presented on film with all manner of glowing pumpkins, ghostly sheets, fog-drenched caverns and spooky woods thrown in. Production design is top notch and I wouldn’t mind the designers to come around my house on Halloween and dress it up in the same way as some of the sets here.

I can handle the film not being excessively violent, not being overly gory and not featuring naked ladies (there is brief nudity but it’s on the TV during a scene) because it’s not that type of film and it doesn’t need to go down that route. The film can deliver chills and spills when it needs to though and you’ll not likely forget the sight of Sam, the little trick-or-treater with the sack over his head.

In my other anthology reviews, I’ve discussed each of the stories individually but to do that here would be to spoil the fun of seeing how they all pan out. The structure of the film may be a little confusing at first if you’re not used to anthology films as the action switches from one place and time in the town to another. But it all flows easily together and nothing seems disjointed or out of place. Different events in the film may seem random at first and lots of questions will be asked as the film leaves some bits unexplained but fear not as all will be revealed during its course. The film goes with the same style as Creepshow, presenting the film as a comic book and featuring on-screen visual framings such as ‘later’ and ‘earlier’ to remind the viewer where the scene fits in with the overall story.

Each of the stories has been told in some fashion before so there’s nothing new there but it’s the manner in which they’re all twisted around and given new leases of life. There’s a good A-list cast on display too with Dylan Baker clearly relishing his role as the sinister headmaster and Brian Cox grumping it up as the old hermit. Anna Paquin, more famous for cavorting around in TV series True Blood, looks great as Little Red Riding Hood. Not only that but Bryan Singer took the producing credit for this flick and its Michael Dougherty’s directorial debut after he’s penned the likes of X-Men 2 and Superman Returns. So there’s great name pedigree running right through the cast and crew.

 

It’s not often that a film leaves you wanting more but that’s definitely the case with Trick ‘r Treat. It gets the blend of everything just right and the wicked sense of humour throughout just adds the final touches. I’d love for them to do a sequel or even just another anthology. There’s clearly a lot more life left in this idea and it’d be a pity to waste it. Destined to be a cult classic to watch on Halloween alongside, well, Halloween obviously.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

 

 

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