Trick 'r Treat Is Sure To Be The Next Big Cult Horror Film
By J.T. Johnson
Director: Michael Dougherty
Cast: Quinn Lord, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin
Producer Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects”) lets one of his “X-Men” writers, Michael Dougherty, make his feature-film directorial debut with “Trick ‘R Treat.” The movie explores four interwoven horror stories that take place on the same Halloween night. The result is one of the best horror films in recent years.
Originally slated for release in 2007, Warner Bros. pushed the film back and there were only a few small public screenings held for the film. Those screenings, however, created an underground buzz with internet film reviewers giving the flick an almost universally positive response.
How good the film is depends largely on the four stories told throughout the movie. First, the opening of the film shows a young couple calling it a night and the woman decides it is time to take the decorations down. Unknown to her, there is an unseen stalker watching her every move and has decided that she has not respected the holiday as much as she should have.
After this cold opening, the film takes off and tells the story of a principal (Dylan Baker) who is secretly a serial killer, a tale of a “virgin” (Anna Paquin) who is looking for the right guy and a story about five teens who pull a prank that goes too far.
The fourth and final story is about a bitter old man (Brian Cox) who is completely disgusted with everything associated with Halloween. While he scares little kids away from his house and watches infomercials to avoid Halloween programming, he begins to change his attitude after he encounters the trick ‘r treater from Hell known as Sam.
This film brings back what was great about classic horror films such as “Creepshow” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” This is because Dougherty knows the three basic ingredients to any horror film. Add one part creepy, one part horror and one part dark humor and he has a film that is destined to be a cult classic. It has scares of every kind including jump scares, creepy things in the shadows and outright gore.
The film has some genuinely dark yet funny moments such as when Principal Wilkins, played masterfully by Baker, tells his potential prey about the rules of Halloween. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, the spirits of the dead will come back to get you, Wilkins says. In this film, audiences better believe it.
What makes each of the stories great is that they start off with all of the clichés of a stereotypical ghost or slasher flick. Then, Dougherty puts a twist on each of the stories that make them stand above the rest. I would mention those twists here, but where would the fun be in that?
The best story in the film has to be that of Mr. Kreeg and his run-in with the ultimate trick ‘r treater, Sam. Sam is a kid that wears red jammies and apparently has an oversized head with a burlap sack over it. He never speaks and audiences immediately know that something’s not quite right with this kid. This little demon bastard pops up throughout the film observing the events that take place in the other stories as they unfold. He is like the god of Halloween that observes whether or not people are following the rules. When he finally begins to terrorize Kreeg, his true nature is revealed and one sees what happens when they don’t follow the rules.
What makes Sam a great villain is that he does not have an origin story. He is simply the boogeyman that doesn’t speak and has no real emotion. Sam deserves a place at the top with the likes of other horror movie icons such as Mike Myers or Pinhead.
The only real complaint there is with the film is that the story of the five kids pulling a prank is the weakest and most boring of the four stories. Certain elements of the story serve a purpose later in the film, but it is really the only moment where the film tends to drag.
It should also be noted that if you do not like seeing kids get hurt in films, do not watch this movie. Kids are fair game here and they do get hurt and maimed in the film. Surprisingly, it did not bother me here as it usually does in other movies, but still, I feel I must warn those who have weak stomachs towards children being harmed to stay away from this one.
In the end, this film is destined to become a Halloween tradition amongst horror movie fans. Also, Dougherty recently announced that he would like to make a sequel with four more stories. Here’s to hoping it will contain the return of Sam.
4 / 5 Stars – Very Good