Oct 4, 2015

Trick 'r Treat (2007)


Some films are put through the studio wringer and there aren't many films that demonstrate that better than Trick 'r Treat. Originally due to release in October of 2007, Warner Brothers yanked it from the schedule without a single explanation as to why. It's possible that it was done in an attempt to avoid going head to head with horror jaugernaut Saw IV or even that it was done in response to the poor performance of Superman Returns. Co-written by Michael Dougherty and directed by Bryan Singer, both gentlemen were involved in Trick 'r Treat as writer/directer and producer respectively.

Sure, Trick 'r Treat got released at a couple of film festivals in 2007 and 2008, but it wasn't until October 6th of 2009 that it was finally released to the masses. Direct-to-DVD that is. That's a cruel twist of fate for a movie that has now become a cult classic to a certain extent. Not all movies get their due and even though there was very little chance that Trick 'r Treat could have hoped to compete with Saw IV in October of '07, it deserved to be shown at the megaplexes.

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At a Glance


Genre: comedy, horror, thriller
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Produced by: Bryan Singer, Ashok Amritraj, Michael Dougherty, etc.
Written by: Michael Dougherty
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Running time: 82 minutes
Country: United States, Canada
Language: English
Budget: $12,000,000
Box office: N/D

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Tahmoh Penikett, Moneca Delain, Brett Kelly, Britt McKillip, Isabelle Deluce, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Leslie Bibb, Patrick Gilmore, C. Ernst Harth, Christine Willes, Samm Todd

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Synopsis


It's Halloween night and the barrier between the world of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. That means that strange occurrences are very much the norm. Charlie (Brett Kelly) finds that out the hard way when he forgets to check his candy which is one of Halloween's most important rules. Young pranksters Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara (Isabelle Deluce), and Chip (Alberto Ghisi) mess around with a secret they should've just left alone and Laurie (Anna Paquin) might finally get the opportunity to no longer be a "virgin" with the help of her older sister Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith). Lastly, Kreeg's (Brian Cox) disdain for Halloween has drawn the ire of a supernatural trick 'r treater who's not about to let him get off so easily.


Review 

 

Trick 'r Treat actually begins with a different story from the ones I described in the synopsis above. It starts with a couple returning home from a Halloween party. Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) loves Halloween and takes its rules very seriously while Emma (Leslie Bibb) does not. Feeling like the exterior of the house is overdecorated and expecting her mother over the next day, Emma decides to take down the decorations right away, despite Henry's warning that there are rules about keeping all the decorations up (namely the jack 'o lanterns) until the next day. Not a good idea as this attracts the attention of the very "pleasant" trick 'o treater named Sam.

Right from the get go, Michael Dougherty shows himself capable of being able to mix and match with comedy and horror. It's not necessarily an easy thing to do, but he manages to hit the right notes for the most part with Trick 'r Treat. It's not a movie that takes itself too seriously either which is also a good thing when we're talking about supernatural trick 'r treaters and all. I also have to say that the way in which all the stories are intertwined is quite impressive and it all leads to a great payoff by the conclusion.

When it comes to the humour in Trick 'r Treat,  it's very much of the black variety and the first story is deliciously full of it. As seemingly boring principal Steven, Dylan Baker delivers a devious performance that is one of the film's highlights. Humour is the most present in this first segment and I can safely say that it does not disappoint. Simply put, it's a well written and well played segment.

The second story involves a group of teens investigating a story that the town would most likely want to erase from its history completely. I don't want to go too into detail, but it involves a bus of disturbed and mentally handicapped children with freaky costumes. It's not a scary story per se, but it's certainly more than creepy, the kind you'd hear from your sleep away camp councilor around the campfire. There's a bit of unfortunate shaky cam near the end of this story, but it's not anything that takes away from the disturbing nature of it all.

The third story is probably my least favourite of them all, but that's not to say that it's not good. It's a clever play on fairy tale lore and the special effects aren't half bad. With Anna Paquin (a frequent Bryan Singer collaborator) as the centerpoint, it features a clever little twist. It's the kind of twist that makes you think that you should've seen eons before it happened, but it's amusing to say the least.

The last story with Brian Cox (another member of the Bryan Singer club) is my favourite of them all. This is where we really see what Sam the supernatural trick 'o treater can really do. The whole segment is a great mix of horror and comedy and it's definitely satisfying after only seeing little bits of Sam here and there for the most part. Again, Trick 'r Treat is not the scariest movie you'll ever see, but it's got a few good tricks up its sleeves served with some laughs on the side.


Conclusion


In this day and age, it's hard to make a horror movie that audiences will take seriously. Especially one that includes slasher-like elements like Trick 'r Treat does. It's all been said and done by now which is why a horror/comedy with self-awareness like this is almost necessary now. While self-awareness seems to be the big thing in Hollywood right now, it's refreshing that Trick 'r Treat doesn't go overboard with it. Sure, Michael Dougherty knows when things go into silly territory, but he still includes a fair amount of suspense building which makes all the difference in making Trick 'r Treat a worthwhile horror flick to watch around Halloween. 

Rating: 

7/10