The problem with horror movies these days is that it lacks the mystery and unanswered questions that the movies of yesteryear had. Like, nobody knew why Jason Voorhees kept on coming back no matter how many times you’d stab him or whack him and there was never an answer as to why Michael Myers could never be killed. Nowadays, the moviemakers insist in having a reasoning or an explanation as to why things are happening and when that is placed in the movie, it loses something. It actually loses the fear it provokes when the happenings are simply explained away in some back story. Alfred Hitchcock said it best when he filmed the classic movie, The Birds, citing that leaving the movie open-ended like he did made it more frightening, but if he included an explanation to the birds’ attacks on people, it would fall into the realm of science fiction.
So, with that said, Trick ‘r Treat—directed by Michael Dougherty and produced by Bryan Singer—is definitely a gem of a film that features the supernatural and doesn’t explain it away with some rationale.
Another great thing about this film is that it’s an anthology, meaning that it’s not just one big story, but several stories rolled into one movie. Like Creepshow or Tales From the Crypt, there’s around four or five different tales woven into the film. And unlike those previously mentioned films, the stories in Trick ‘r Treat are interlaced nicely and kind of take a Quentin Tarantino approach to it as the stories are not exactly in chronological order.
This type of horror film has been sadly lacking in Hollywood and unfortunately Trick ‘r Treat really didn’t get its fair share in theaters. In fact, the movie was made and finished in early 2008, only getting limited release during a special horror movie fest and a short run within the Los Angeles area. Even though many reviewers praised the film, Warner Bros. saw fit not to release it nationwide, but instead chose to shelf it for nearly a year. I was one of the many who didn’t get to see this film in the theaters and saw it on DVD last night.
The one thing that kept flashing through my mind as I watched Trick ‘r Treat was how much better it was than Creepshow III. Then again...a lot of movies were better than Creepshow III. Not only did I think that, but I just couldn’t believe that this film wasn’t distributed to theaters to make WB a lot of money, because this film is what Halloween really is all about. So many horror films of late just revolve around what teenagers are boringly doing and includes way too much emphasis on their ways of life. Most of the time, if I can sit through one of these teeny-bopper movies, these films seem like a teenage reality series like The Hills or some boring crap like that.
Anyway, back to Trick ‘r Treat and how the film went.
It starts off really nice, with the feel of autumn, capturing a small town atmosphere during Halloween. A couple returns from the community’s Halloween festivities and we get the first warning about Halloween: Don’t put out the jack o’lantern’s light until Halloween is over. Of course, the woman does—ignoring her husband’s half-hearted warning—and bad things happen. This, my friends, is the introduction of what’s in store for you throughout this film.
We have Principal Wilkins (played by Spider-Man 2’s Dylan Baker) in the first story, showing his terrible secret that he can’t deny; a group of teenage girls head out to a party deep in the woods, with one of them deciding to walk from town all the way to party in the dark; a group of four children go through great lengths to perform a cruel prank on the girl down the street who’s a little different; and finally, the cranky old man (played by Brian Cox), who doesn’t enjoy Halloween and refuses to give out candy to the trick ‘r treaters, is taught a frightening lesson.
Man! This film is so reminiscent of the horror films of the 80s and it feels almost nostalgic to watch it. Bryan Singer and Michael Dougherty really did something right with this film and it’s sad that the film was shelved as payment for all their hard work.
Trick ‘r Treat is really a satisfying experience and is worth more than just renting for one night of viewing…it’s worth owning to watch again and again. Because, as soon as I finished watching this movie, I went online and purchased the Blu-Ray.
My final “bit” on Trick ‘r Treat? Although the film is not jump-out-of-your-seat scary, it’s still a fun and amusing ride. It’s not drenched in gore and violence, but instead, thrills you and leaves you with the right feel of Halloween. In a weird way, it brings you back to your childhood to remember how it was to go out and collect candy from your neighbors, all the while wondering what was out there in the dark. Halloween is only one day in the year, but I always start celebrating it at the beginning of October. Trick ’r Treat gives me yet another tool in making the scary season last. Watch this one! You won’t regret it!