Trick 'r Treat (2007)
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As I said, Trick 'r Treat is a horror anthology which interweaves tales that all take place on Halloween night, similar to such genre classics as Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside. A costumed couple learns to respect tradition the hard way, a group of girls head out into the woods for a "howling" good party, the local school principal has a (literal) taste for blood, four kids attempting to pull off a holiday "trick" end up becoming "treats", and a cantankerous old man gets a visit from a holiday visitor looking to settle a decades-old grudge.
To say anymore than that would spoil the fun in watching the film, as these stories are best digested when viewed on an empty mind. The twists are less predictable than most horror films manage these days; half the fun is wondering just where the hell these characters are going to end up. The one constant throughout the film is a costumed, pint-sized little guy named Sam, who does his best to remind people why they should take great care in adhering to the traditions set forth hundreds of years ago for All Hallows Eve. The film is richly seeped in tradition, reminding the audience of just why we celebrate the fabled holiday in the first place. It manages to be effectively creepy and blood-soaked, yet it never goes over-the-top with gratuitous gore. There is also a very obvious helping of black comedy strewn throughout the film, which thankfully never gives way to the self-parody so many horror films feel the need to indulge in.
I think the most impressive aspect of this film is the incredible attention that has been paid to detail. Every single shot of the film is beautifully framed and composed, often looking more like a cryptic painting than a frame of film. The austere trappings of Mr. Kreeg's dark house, the ghostly palette of the rock quarry, the incredible shape-shifting sequence around a roaring fire in the woods everything here is gorgeous. That aesthetic, married with the spot-on performances and realistic dialogue, give the film an organic feel that never relies on cheese or parody to break tension. The cinematography by Glen MacPherson (who also shot this year's incredibly brutal Rambo) is so lush it manages to make you feel like you're a part of the celebration. For someone who is as big a fan of the Halloween holiday as I am, this was especially important to see done right. Too often when a film actually does take place on the holiday it lacks the depth that is presented here.
For such a large ensemble cast, there isn't any one performance that stands out above the rest everyone here is perfectly cast. I even enjoyed Anna Paquin as the "virgin" of the female group, and she's not always someone I'm crazy about. Perhaps my favorite role is that of Mr. Kreeg, played superbly by veteran character actor Brian Cox. His look was inspired directly from my favorite director, John Carpenter, and there are a couple of well-placed nods to his work that were highly amusing. Also providing great support throughout the film is newcomer Quinn Lord who plays Sam, the little sack-headed minion who "stiches" the film's stories together.
OK, now here's the biggest problem with the film; the 800 lb. gorilla in the room: there is NO set distribution deal lined up. I was lucky enough to see it at the sold-out opening night screening held at Grauman's Chinese Theater for Screamfest 2008. During the post-film q&a session Mr. Dougherty informed us that he had no idea what the future held for this film. It was set to be released in Oct. 2007 (?!?), then it was pushed back to Feb. 2008, Oct. 2008 and, finally, has been placed on the shelf indefinitely. I'm thankful that Dougherty got some good studio money to make the film to his exact specifications, but, for the love of all things evil, someone at Warner Bros. needs to get this thing out to the masses! I heard rumblings of a direct-to-DVD release date sometime next year, to which I can only say that would be a travesty for something this genuine and unique. I suppose therein lies some of the problem; since this is generally uncharted territory, the studios are clueless as to how they can market the thing. I can understand some of their hesitation (since a good majority of the film features children either killing or being killed), but there's just no excuse to not give this thing some kind of release and with an October 2008 release out of the question I don't when they could give it a proper release. This is a film that needs to be seen during the month of October, but it's looking like 2009 is the next likely candidate if that were the case. I just don't want to see this film become the cinematic equivalent to the eternally-gestating Guns N' Roses opus Chinese Democracy (which, oddly enough, actually has a release date for now).
It might not be an all time great, but it is so much better than 20 odd absolute crapfests that were actually fast-tracked into cinemas over the last year to cash in on the current renaissance that horror has been enjoying lately.
Examples? Orphan / The Last House on the Left / Halloween 2 / The Unborn / The Uninvited / Stepfather / Final Destination / Sorority Row Now re-read that list above and tell me what was a MUST SEE in cinemas.
I'll wait Thought so.
Trick R Treat is hardly a frightening flick, but it is sharp, clever, amusing, inventive and most of all fun. None of those words scream "direct to DVD" to me - but that is what happened anyway.
Halloween has never really taken root in Australia, but over the last decade or so it has become more evident that Aussie kids are aware of the possibilities of free lollies and late nights, and the pressure seems to be going back on parents and homeowners to take it seriously. I know that we never bothered getting a serious stash of lollies ready until around three years ago, but this year our house got door-knocked at least 20 times.
What has been true for many years is that horror movies are more popular around this time of year, as many are made for US release to coincide with the holiday.
The plot of Trick R Treat is actually hard to describe, it is more a series of initially random events involving the same group of characters than a linear storyline. They all take place on Halloween (natch) in a small US town that obviously takes the night seriously.
The main combatants of the film include: A young couple arriving home from the night's festivities, with the young woman knocking back a kind offer of intercourse in favour of cleaning up the Halloween decorations in the yard.
The local school principal and his dealings with a trick or treater (played by the doofy kid from Bad Santa), which is interrupted by his son and a grumpy neighbour.
Four nubile young skanks prepping for a night where they are all hoping to "pull", including two absolute hotties and a pair of sisters, one of whom is Anna Paquin as a somewhat reluctant trollop dressed as Red Riding Hood.
A group of kids who attempt to pay respect to the victims of a past local tragedy involving a crashed school bus, and who rope in an unpopular young woman for the ceremony.
And The afore-mentioned grumpy neighbour of the School Principal - obviously not a fan of Halloween - and his dealings with celebrating kids.
Early on there are a few more fake scares than I would have liked, you know where the camera lingers, the music builds, the character's hand hovers and nothing happens. I started to worry that the release of the film was delayed with cause but thankfully that feeling was short lived.
The plot interweaves "Pulp Fiction" style between the seemingly random events, and we gradually see how all these events are practically related, and often impact other character's stories later on, (or at times earlier on, there are a few flashbacks).
There is also a little character in a sack over a pumpkin-head outfit who pops up in the periphery of all stories, he finally has his own scene near the very end in a scene that is worth the wait.
How this wasn't released to cinemas is beyond me. It seems to have every key element required to cash in big time, it is funny, has some good scares, sexy teens and a little innuendo without overstepping the gore or bad taste boundaries. I would have thought with a little advertising and some word of mouth this would have seen a huge audience over the Halloween period from the teens that will - if we're honest - go and see almost anything anyway.
It most certainly deserved far more than a direct to DVD release, hopefully the inevitable sequel sees a better fate.
Final Rating 7.5 10. A little tame to be considered a great horror film, this will find itself on a great many "underrated" lists in coming years, and will no doubt prove a great introduction to the horror genre for many curious teens in years to come. You could do an awful lot worse.
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Whereas Carpenter's classic is set during the holiday and it plays heavily into the plot, the film could (arguably) be set on any other night and be just as frightening. TRICK 'R TREAT hinges completely on All Hallow's Eve, taking every spooky childhood memory its viewers have about the holiday and mashing them into a gleeful, creepy anthology of tales that are somehow both genuinely chilling and nostalgically beautiful.
Try as I might, I cannot think of a film more deserving of a 10/10 rating than TRICK 'R TREAT. Writer/director Michael Dougherty has crafted a film that transformed me into a five-year-old child in a Dracula cape and plastic fangs, riveted in stunned horror as his vision played out before me. Somehow, it succeeds in being both terrifying and charming, like a dark old painting that still reminds you of home.
TRICK 'R TREAT's story unfolds unlike a traditional anthology picture, with all of the movie's separate plots taking place together. We're not subjected to title cards or stunted intermissions between tales, but a seamless mix of Halloween hijinx and horrors. In its five overlapping stories, a couple discovers what happens when they blow out a jack o' lantern before midnight, a bullying child learns to check his candy before eating it, a young woman is stalked by a hooded stranger at a harvest festival, a group of pranksters uncover the ghoulish truth about a local urban legend, and an elderly Scrooge is visited by a pint-sized hellion who is far more interested in tricks than treats.
Buffeted by wonderful performances from Oscar winner Anna Paquin, Emmy winner Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb, and Battlestar Galactica's Tahmoh Penikett, TRICK 'R TREAT is the one and only genre film to have been released in the past decade that is already one of my all-time favorites.
When its done, you'll feel sorry for the works of Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino, because TRICK 'R TREAT has taken the best of these auteurs, blended them with ten pounds of candy corn and razor blades, and shoveled the whole mess down your throat.
TRICK 'R TREAT may not just be the best Halloween-themed movie ever made, but the finest example of horror cinema in decades.
I have seen thousands of horror films and T'r T is undoubtedly one of the best films I have ever seen.
From the moment it started I got the feeling I was going to like it, you can tell it had a fair amount of money chucked it's way, the set looks fantastic. This is going straight to DVD in October, with no theatrical run (it was made in 2007)...Unbelievable! From the acting to the effects to the direction - the whole thing is just masterful.
The film itself basically is set on Halloween, and a bunch of stories interweave into one in a very clever way, it is sort of like the CREEPSHOW films but each story is'nt standalone, they are all going on at the same time and come together at the end. I did'nt know to much when I went into it, and I think it's the best way because there are a bundle of great surprises littered throughout! It makes me wonder how a movie like Prom Night remake and the coulntless SAW films get a Theatrical Run and a film as awesome as this just gets shelved and disregarded.
A true masterpiece by any admission, and sure to be INSTANT CLASSIC!
Bad things .Expectations!...More often than not, they turn around and bite you. TRICK 'r TREAT bit back hard! If ever I wanted to have an enjoyable genre movie experience, TRICK was it! A myriad of factors prevented me from doing so. At least viewers are spared from long-suffering, because after a scant 77 minutes, the end credits begin.
Here is one very clear example of its myriad shortcomings: Toward the end, a neighbor, who is injured via a run in with a rather indescribable child monster, comes out of his empty home soon after with his right arm, shoulder and head ALL very tidily and professionally bandaged. (He must keep a live-in-nurse chained-up in the basement?!?) And how they managed to apply pristine white bandages without as much as a single drop of blood visible anywhere is nothing short of a miracle!
Besides continuity issues, TRICK suffers from interminable other weaknesses. The only redeeming aspect of TRICK is its technical and visual excellence. Cinematography, editing, sets, set decoration, costumes, sound and sound effects, all exhibited levels considerably above average, albeit very clichéd and practically devoid of any originality.
**** HUGE SPOILER CONUNDRUM Ahead! Read it and I'll bet 10 to 1 you'll say, "O.K., Right! Don't want to see it!" On the Other Hand Don't read it, go ahead and see the movie and you'll come back later and say, "DAMN! Sure wish I had read Tony's SPOILER BEFORE! "****
What does TRICK consider to be its "Trump card"? Apparently, killing off a bus-load of special needs kids! Oh, and just to be fair, so that they're not the ONLY kids singled out for an untimely end, other children are offed as well! Now I don't know about you, but I do think this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel! Is it incongruous to say, "Well, at least these killings were done tastefully"?
Writers and the director seemed to overlook the "sometimes MORE is LESS" factor, and, although the storyline is not linear, but rather circular, crammed in serial killers, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, a monster kid and a murderer-for-hire in several unrelated, and sometimes unresolved story lines in ONLY 77 minutes! When all is said and done, I'm sure a lot of die hard fans of the genre will enjoy TRICK much more than I. Sorry Horror/Terror FANS:4.5*...ENJOY/DISFRUTELA!?!?(If you can!)
Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Español, are most welcome!
Selected to close out Montreal's 2009 Fantasia film fest, Trick 'r Treat spins five intertwined tales featuring an assortment of classic critters and creeps, with each interlocking story carrying its own "Twilight Zone"-type twist. The single constant throughout is Sam (Quinn Lord), a mysterious diminutive munchkin dressed in a pajama jumper and sporting a burlap sack for a head with buttons for eyes, who appears briefly in each segment and takes center stage in the final story.
Borrowing a visual style from the classic EC horror comics, Dougherty deploys vintage on-screen graphic call-outs like "Later" or "Meanwhile" to let the audience know which scenes are running in order, concurrently, or previously in the film's timeline, which comes full circle at its conclusion, ending where it began.
With exquisite art direction by Tony Wohlgemuth and lush visuals by cinematographer Glenn MacPherson (2008's Rambo, Final Destination) the segments tell the tales of a young wife who can't wait to ditch the trappings of Halloween, even though the film's mythology says it's taboo to blow out a pumpkin before midnight; a sinister school principal and single dad with a nefarious agenda planned for trick-or-treaters; a young virgin nervously seeking her first time with her pack of girlfriends; a group of kids in quest of the truth behind a local urban legend; and an aging recluse with a tortured soul who finds his quiet Halloween night rudely interrupted by Sam.
Dougherty, whose last major credit was as co-screenwriter of Superman Returns, invokes a spirit of childhood fun borne from hours spent burrowing through editions of EC Comics, Warren Publishing's Eerie and Creepy, and DC's House of Mystery to create a fun, rollicking ride that is rare in movies today.
The sad aspect of this is that while Trick 'r Treat has been enjoying a positive response from the festival circuit, it's still a guess as to when this gem will be released. While the month of October would be a no-brainer, the movie was originally targeted for a 2007 release, only to see that get pushed back again and again. It's a shame for such a fine film to languish on the shelf, only to be seen by a select few at sympathetic festivals, for Trick 'r Treat is virtually an instant classic of the genre, even if its only audience exposure ends up being via direct-to-DVD.
Although there is a certain amount of gore and some nudity this never feels like "hardcore horror", but more like a movie you could enjoy on a rainy afternoon with your kids... and that's a good thing. We've had so many shocking, violence-laden movies lately, that this is a very welcomed return to the more light-hearted, charming horror of our childhood.
"Trick 'r Treat" never strives to be special or meaningful. The episodes aren't especially original or disturbing, but director/screenwriter Michael Dougherty proves that you can breathe life into a horror movie just by taking it seriously, by putting your soul into it. The settings are atmospheric, the cinematography is inspired and beautiful. Some scenes are blatantly stolen from other movies (a scene that involves a little person slicing a grown-ups heel from underneath the bed is taken right out of "Pet Semetary", then we got the hand with a life of its own, that we've all seen before in "Evil Dead II", the Addams family movies and even "Waxwork II: Lost In Time"). However, these moments seem more like respectful nods to the movies we enjoyed as kids.
"Trick 'r Treat" has got its heart in the right place. It's the perfect movie for Halloween. It's charming and lots of fun. Great to see that there are still people like Dougherty out there who make old fashioned horror movies like this one.
Trick R Treat sure is original. It's not some mindless blood fest, it doesn't have pointless nudity, and it isn't some crappy remake of an original classic horror film that we are getting so many of these days. It's purely an original horror film, and it's a breath of fresh air. Trick R Treat is an indie, stand alone horror film directed by Michael Dougherty. The film that contains 4 individual stories that all tie in together at the end of the film. The stories themselves are actually very good, keeping us on the edge of our seats with interest and gives us a nice little twist at the end of each one that even managed to surprise me when I watched it a second time a few months later. Sure, it's not the scariest film ever made, it isn't that gory either. What it is is clever, old school original horror that separates itself from all those other horrors out there.
The stories revolve around a young teenager (Anna Paquin) looking for someone to have her first time with, an irritable old man living alone, a school teacher with a dark, twisted side, and a horrible school prank revolving around what seems to be only an urban legend. Sound simple enough, right? Well, each one has its own shock and twist towards the end, and how they all link in with each other is really well done. One character I particularly liked was the creepy young child with the pumpkin like mask that appeared in each story. He doesn't feature in much, but he really gets to shine in the very last scene that is defiantly worth the wait.
So give it a shot, it's something new that sadly we just don't get enough of these days.