Synopsis (spoiler alert!): A creepy, darkly comic celebration of the scariest night of the year from producer Bryan Singer (director of X-Men and Superman Return) and writer-director Michael Dougherty (co-scripter of X2 and Superman Returns). Trick ‘R Treat takes the Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt approach to nefarious new depths with four interwoven tales set on Halloween night: a high school principal (Dylan Baker) moonlights as a vicious serial killer; the quest of a young virgin (Anna Paquin) for that special someone takes a gruesome turn; a group of teens carries out a cruel prank with disastrous consequences; and a cantankerous old man (Brian Cos) battles a mischievous trick-or-treating demon.
Trick ‘r Treat 7.75
I know I’m not alone in saying that I steered clear of this film due to its dorky title alone (I mean, really! ). I don’t know… it just didn’t inspire confidence. But then I started hearing pretty good things and started to reconsider. Then I read a review by someone whose opinion I respect and decided to put it on my list.
Eventually, I started looking for it second-hand (I wasn’t about to splurge on something that’s not a 100% sure-fire hit). After a small while, I finally got the darned thing. And on blu-ray, no less (it has more special features than the DVD! ).
And then I waited patiently for Hallowe’en to come around. If not for the fact that I’ve scheduled a showing of ‘Halloween (2007)’ for some friends on Hallowe’en night, this would have been perfect. In fact, being an old-school short story anthology, and with pumpkin and orange themes in its promotional art, it’s completely suited to the occasion.
There are four main stories, but a lot of the bits and pieces bleed into one another:
– four young women dress up to go on the prowl for boys and some Hallowe’en partying
– a school principal has a twisted take on trick or treating
– a bunch of kids go pay their respect to the spirits of long-time dead children
– a sickly, cantankerous man receives a visit at home.
And there’s also an opening sequence about a couple who have a gruesome after-party, which is somewhat tied into the rest of the film.
As I mentioned, the stories are segmented and interspersed throughout, with parts from one story being shown and then parts of another and so forth, all in a non-linear fashion. This made the end result far more more enjoyable than the dry ’60s and ’70s anthologies which gave us their short stories in sequence, as-matter-of-factly as possible.
It was also fun to discover that the stories are almost all related in some way; I hadn’t expected this and it added an extra dimension to the viewing. Which is a good thing here, because the standalone shorts have only mildly interesting premises. In fact, the material couldn’t have held up any longer than the film’s brief 80 mins runtime.
From the onset, I liked the tone of it: it had a sensibility that is akin to ‘Scream’, in that it injected sly humour and didn’t take itself all too seriously, but it was crossed with a sort of b-grade anthology quality that made me think of ‘Creepshow’ – even the types of stories are different. I may be wrong in that assessment, but this is was entered my mind as I watched it and it’s stuck since.
The film has the trappings of a franchise, I think. For starters, they have an iconic-looking scarecrow-pumpkin child character who shows up everywhere (often just to observe). This character could be used numerous ways and it’s one that I rather like. And since it’s an anthology series, any number of stories could be woven together. It could even be a TV series (although I suspect this would be oversaturation and, anyway, the quality of the writing would waver tremendously from week to week )
Mind you, the film was originally slated to be released in 2007 but ended up straight to DVD in 2009. And nothing else seems to be in the pipes. So far. So it’s not looking good. It’s a real shame, ’cause, no joke, I would go pick up sequels if there were any. Oh, sure, I would likely end up disappointed, but I honestly think this has potential, and I enjoyed it enough that there’d be a glimmer of hope that I’d find something to sink my teeth in.
I mean, I can’t say that I was wholly impressed with the film: it’s good, but not great (even the visuals and audio are okay, but nothing amazing). However, it was playful enough to make it a fair bit of fun. I will watch it again… at a future Hallowe’en.
But I recommend it with some reservations; it all depends on whether one likes anthologies or not – they’re a very different breed from the average film.