Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
As it is our last day of our 31 Days of Halloween feature, I wanted to write about something that captures the spirit of the holiday itself – the candy, the costumes, and the just under the surface worry that someone…or thing, might be out to get you.
With that, I present to you – Trick R Treat.
If this is your first time hearing about this movie, you’re not alone. It’s started to gain some traction and buzz the last few years, but this movie was made in 2007, and didn’t actually hit shelves as a DVD until 2009. A few attempts at theatrical releases early on fell flat, and like many a cult classic that came before it, the studio just didn’t seem to know what to do with the flick.
Only after True Blood’s success, and Anna Paquin’s starring role were connected, did this claw its way out of the lost file, and on to small screens, on demand, and streaming via your monthly player of choice.
I’m very glad it did. I’ve found myself disillusioned with the state of horror movies since the torture porn days of Saw, and I was glad to see something try to connect back to the underlying themes of Halloween that I enjoyed so much as a kid.
While Carpenter’s Halloween might have the name recognition to tie it to the holiday it uses it as little more than an excuse to mask the face of the villain. The expressionless face is spectacular, but doesn’t really connect to the overall theme of the day.
In contrast – Trick R Treat is all about Halloween itself – the myths, legends, traditions, and consequences of listening to and ignoring both. The plot is anthology-esque, with five separate tales that cross and criss-cross on a single Halloween night:
A couple fights over the husbands dedication to Samhain, and the wife’s hatred of it.
A beautiful woman might find someone to give her virginity to.
A sheltered child ventures into the night with people she thinks are her friends, only to find out the terrifying truth.
A high school principal has a nasty secret hidden in his psyche and buried in his yard.
And finally a grumpy old man finds out just what happens when you don’t pay the required respect to the ancient traditions, and what the trick really can mean.
All of these five stories are very well done, creepy as hell, and do a good job of balancing the gore with the psychological scares. The “spot the other characters” moments are like easter eggs that keep popping up, and while the jump scares are slim, the slow building horror is well done.
My personal favorites – the grumpy old man and the kids – both bring me back to the 80’s horror movies I loved. There’s shades of Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th in both, and the scares here are both about long past offenses that come back to haunt the present day.
Now, granted – the plot is see-through as hell at times. You know that certain characters are going to show back up in other stories, and that some of the past crimes will get avenged, because that’s just how these tales unfold. Also, Sam – the little demonic creature antagonist? Not really the scariest thing out there. Hopefully he gets supersized for the sequel.
I can’t think of a better term for this film. As I said above, I’ve not found many horror movies since the Saw franchise started that scared me or built a sense of dread in me while watching. This didn’t terrify me, or keep me up at night, but it was a well built series of stories, that I felt very satisfied about when credits rolled. This needs a sequel, and a theatre engagement because both would play well to the more event minded movie going crowd. Imagine a Halloween midnight showing of this – all sorts of people in costume, trying to scare each other and having a blast?
Overall, Trick r Treat was well worth the viewing – and if you’re looking for something to watch tonight while you eat all your kids candy, this is a great option.