Horror Review: 'Trick 'r Treat'

Horror Review: ‘Trick ‘r Treat’


Trick ‘r Treat is yet another horror film that has been severely mishandled over the last few years. A few other notables are Paranormal Activity (finally out in theaters) and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (collecting dust on  a shelf somewhere). Trick ‘r Treat was shown at a few genre film festivals last year and a few this year as well. It was received by the audiences with giddy, glowing praise, and was  heralded an instant Halloween classic.

Then it sat on a shelf with no release date.  Fortunately, Warner Brothers threw us horror buffs a bone and released it last week on DVD.  It promptly sold out, which demonstrated the pent up demand to see this movie.

Admittedly, it has been over-hyped a bit. It is not among the best horror movies ever made, but it is really fun. It actually celebrates the traditions of Halloween, and is unique in that respect. In the town where the story takes place, candy still needs to be carefully checked for razors and poison, and you don’t disregard the rules of Halloween. Namely, never blow out the candle in a jack-o-lantern, lest bad things happen.

It actually has four intersecting stories going on simultaneously on a Halloween night in one town, a storytelling technique I love. If Tim Burton and Sam Raimi had a love child, this would be your result. More camp than creep, this is a throwback to the Creepshow movies, complete with a graphic comic intro. Each story is the type you can imagine kids telling over a campfire.

Briefly, Dylan Baker (Happiness) plays a school principal with a troubling extra-curricular activity,  Brian Cox (the Bourne movies) plays a paranoid recluse,  Ann Paquin (Sookie on True Blood) provides a modern twist on Little Red Riding Hood, and  school age pranksters push one joke a little too far. It’s a blast discovering how they are all interwoven.

The movie draws on horror anthologies Tales from the Crypt and The Company of Wolves as well as Creepshow. A creepy kid with footy pajamas and a burlap sack over his head  ominously seems to show up whenever something horror-ific is going down. He’s an effective little mascot for this movie, as evidenced in the movie posters. I don’t know why burlap is so creepy, but it was put to great use in 2007’s The Orphanage, too.

Brian Cox is finding a little niche for himself in the land of horror. He was fantastic in the little seen Red, and he is great in this movie. Dylan Baker and Anna Paquin put the movie a notch above the usual horror fare.

A vintage look to the movie ensures lots of color and crisp details in contrast to all the dark cinematography we see in most of our modern horror films. Don’t see this movie with unrealistic expectations. We’re not reinventing the wheel here.

It’s just a fun take on the Halloween holiday  I fully expect it to be shown in heavy rotation every October on all the usual suspect cable channels.  I’ll be tuning in every year.