Fall’s creeping up on us with its signature holiday – Halloween. Now, there are many many options that you can consider when planning your viewing schedule for October (and even way before, such as in the case of horror fans like DinoDrac). You could go campy (Ernest Scared Stupid), you could go horror-comedy (Evil Dead 2), straight up horror & gore, traditional family films, or go for something that has instantly become a Halloween cult classic. Trick ‘r Treat is a modern cult classic whose reputation has only grown over the years. It doesn’t hurt that it has Anna Paquin in it, as fans of her work in True Blood and others will seek this film out. It’s also a good movie, not kitschy-bad as so many cult classic films seem to be.
Now the downside of most Halloween films is that you can only hit one motif or theme at a time and to showcase the others, you need to cycle through various films in order to accomplish the broad spectrum of topics available. Thanks to the vignette theme that Trick ‘r Treat utilizes, you can get pretty much every Halloween story crammed into a single movie. A diverse range of stories are interwoven and told together, ranging from werewolves to spirits. There’s a reason why many people now just play Trick ‘r Treat on repeat during Halloween parties – no effort is needed to maintain the atmosphere, and the stories themselves are easy to understand with a slight overlying arc that consolidates the multiple stories into a coherent single tale. However, during a party – the guests can simply enjoy the snippets as they come and go, without worrying about the larger story. That’s a rare accomplishment in and of itself.
With such disparate stories, someone usually wonders if at least some of the stories are just filler or that the stories aren’t cohesive. That isn’t the case – I actually rather enjoyed each and every story, along with the main story at large. None of them were simply chaff. Given my platitudes, you’d be forgiven to think that I had a short attention span or was related to someone involved with the film. That isn’t the case – the movie is simply executed that well, which is a rarity with scripts this complex and so many moving parts that need to fit together somehow. This isn’t something like Richard Linklater’s Slacker in which the cast simply rotates in and out from one vignette to the next, telling a story about a community through the diversity of its characters. Trick ‘r Treat actually has characters that remain constant and interact with each other, allowing you to see both points of view of a scene throughout the film. For example, two neighbors are separated by a fence, and we’re able to see the interaction of the two, along with the specific stories that led each out to the fence in the first place (not back to back, but separated in time in the film – we see one side of the story from one point of view and then later on, see the other side of the story from the other point of view). This is a wonderful tool that not many films utilize to the best of their abilities.
Director Michael Dougherty has coaxed maximum performances out of his ensemble cast which actually has some heavy hitters represented (Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb, and Dylan Baker). This film is rated ‘R’ due to standard horror fare, but also includes a brief clip from a pornographic film playing on a television in the background at the start of the film (softcore). As long as you don’t object to these, then Trick ‘r Treat is a fantastic Halloween film, although I wouldn’t screen it with tons of small children. While not a splatterfest, there’s some well-done realistic gory scenarios. This is also the rare film that managed to overcome two usually crippling issues – its release was delayed for 2 years and had a very very very limited theatrical release (it’s essentially direct to video).
MPAA Rating: R