Trick ‘r Treat (Blu-ray / DVD)

Trick 'r Treat on Blu-ray and DVDReviewed by MattFini

Starring Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Quinn Lord, Rochelle Aytes

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Distributed by Warner Premiere

I often wonder whether or not I’m just too old to enjoy the genre like I used to. Often times, I hear how much ‘fun’ or ‘brilliant’ a newer movie is only to watch and come away with sizeable disappointment. So when the hype machine started building for Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat (nearly two years ago, now), I decided to remain skeptical while clinging to a sliver of cautious optimism. I’d rather expect precious little and come away with genuine delight rather than throw my hands up in frustration and wonder what the hell it is my peers are smoking (again).

Somehow, Trick ‘r Treat manages to live up to the staggering hype surrounding its release – which gets my peers of the hook (they’ll be so relieved). It’s as fun and enjoyable as you might’ve heard and, now that I’ve seen it, I’m plenty pissed at Warner Brothers for deciding that the best place to experience it is in the confines of our own home. Not only does it restore my wavering faith in a genre that’s become too “dark and gritty” for its own good (thanks, Rob Zombie), but it’s also a reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a great film.

That’s one of the things I admired most here: the stories, while fun, don’t necessarily go out of their way to introduce a “new spin” on things. We’re living in an age where every other filmmaker feels like the only way to make their mark is to shake things up with a “different spin”, which often wreaks of desperation and gimmick. So while Trick ‘r Treat offers the kind of twists and surprises often associated with anthology films, they feel right at home within this material. And what material! Literally brimming with all the good stuff you’d hope to find in a film with this title, every frame is infused with the atmosphere and feeling that gives the Halloween holiday its life’s blood.

Trick 'r Treat on Blu-ray and DVDWriter/Director Michael Dougherty clearly loves the holiday and has taken great pains in conveying it in the most ghoulish of ways: poisoned Halloween candy, pesky vandals, ironic costume shopping, twisted town legends and, of course, brutal murder. It’s all here in several interlocking stories – each one more fun than the last. Without spoiling too much, a high school principle (Dylan Baker in a hilarious performance) sets his sights on the extracurricular education of a young candy thief, a pack of girls get dressed for a Halloween party while forcing their youngest friend (Anna Paquin) to get her sexy on, a group of kids steal a pile of pumpkins in the hopes of appeasing an old town legend and a Halloween Grinch (Brian Cox) gets educated in the ways of the holiday.

It’s all good stuff and Dougherty’s film hearkens back to an age when the horror genre was light and fun. With strong production values, stellar casting and breakneck pacing, it’s a crime that we didn’t get a chance to catch this in theaters during the Fall season but it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD now for your viewing pleasure. Fill your living room with some like-minded horror friends, break out the candy corn and pumpkin beer and settle in for the film that lives up to the hype. This is the one we’ve been waiting for.

If you’ve got the means, you’re going to have to scoop this guy up on Blu-ray. Not only is the technical presentation far superior to the standard definition counterpart (not reviewed), but the majority of supplementary material is exclusively available on Blu-ray.

Trick 'r Treat on Blu-ray and DVDThe commentary track with Dougherty and crew is a hot and cold affair, with some interesting tidbits pertaining to the production despite long lapses of silence. The documentary is a worthwhile watch, covering aspects of both the holiday and the film’s productions. It’s a little scattershot, but loaded with groovy tidbits. A collection of deleted scenes run nearly twenty minutes, containing excised pieces of character bits and other fun little extensions. These aren’t critical to the film (and you can listen to Dougherty’s explanation for removing them via an optional commentary track) but I would’ve liked a few of them in the final cut. Either way, they’re fun to see. A short film, called Season’s Greetings, runs 4 minutes and serves as a bit of a precursor to Trick ‘r Treat. Lastly, an FX comparison for the school bus sequence runs one minute.

The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic and, for those of you with large displays, it’s probably the closest some of us will ever come to seeing the film on the big screen. The transfer is sharp and textured, with lots of detail available in the image. Black levels are strong and deep – a good thing considering this is a dark film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 True HD track keeps things lively, too. Surround channels keep the film’s ambiance alive with the spooky sound design on constant display. Dialogue levels are strong and well defined, largely confined to the front speakers while the sound effects are heavily textured and satisfying to the ear.

If you’re going to put this one in your library, the Blu-ray is the way to go. This is likely to be in constant rotation in my home every October and I know I’m not alone there. Warner Bros. might’ve given this the shaft in terms of a theatrical release, but they’ve made up for it with a better-than-average collection of exclusive extras and a fantastic high definition presentation. Pop it in and turn it up. You’re going to have a good time.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Michael Dougherty, concept artist Breehn Burns, storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins and composer Douglas Pipes (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • The Lore and Legends of Halloween documentary (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Deleted Scenes (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • School Bus FX Comparison (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Seasons Greetings short film


    5 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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  • Matt Serafini

    Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

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    • maikii

      Great movie. Too bad we get screwed on special features with the DVD version.

    • Tshoffie

      I knew after waiting this movie would not dissappoint and i was right…this movie kicked ass and its a very shame it didnt get a theatrical release. i would say this is the best horror film of the year by far if not the best horror film in the last few years

    • MagusMaleficus

      I remember reading Andrew’s review many moons ago and fearing that the hype would not hold up; that Trick ‘r Treat would be, at best, mediocre. Thank fucking Buddha my fears were unfounded. Best Halloween-themed horror movie in ages, and easily the best anthology film–of any genre–in a loooong time. And to think that this movie was never granted a wide theatrical release… If only Trick ‘r Treat got the “Demand It” treatment like Paranormal Activity.

    • Floydian Trip

      What strikes me is how young Mike is and to nail old-school like he’s been watching horror movies since the 50’s. This guy has clealry been fed a good diet of some of the best horror available, none of which comes from the last 20 years. The horror I know and love is dead but I’ve got this movie and I’m watching it again tonight with my gf’s and her kids. I think it’s important for them to watch it before getting all obsessed about the next Twilight movie. So on to the 7th but not even close to the last viewing.

    • Floydian Trip

      Nice review! I wonder how many people are not going to see this movie? I love the comic book opening and ending which were last minute. It gives that old-school vibe and let’s you know that this isn’t a typical horror film and while it’s not a comedy or satire in any way you’re supposed to laugh and gigle in a child-like way like you could at horror movies 3 or 4 decades ago. This is the perfect drive-in feature with a double feature of some shlocky B monster movie.

    • Filmczy

      Nice review of a very well done movie. I, too, was a little hesitant at first because of all the hype as well as the short running time (82 minutes) but Dougherty clearly showed what is the most important element of any film: the story. After watching the film you knew Dougherty filmed exactly what he wanted from beginning to end. So many horror films today seem as if they were written day to day with no idea about having a beginning, middle, and end. Not this one. Dougherty had a story to tell (several, actually) and the confidence in the storytelling came through brilliantly. A side note should be made to Dougherty’s admiration to John Carpenter. See how many references to the opening scene in the original “Halloween” you can spot in the opening sequence in this film. Also the “You got to be fucking kidding me” line from Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Certainly not a rip off but a sly wink to a director he truly admires. Bravo!

    • Barfneck

      Best movie of the year, sorry Drag Me to Hell. Got this on blu-ray and this is definitely the way to go, especially for the extras. I must say I agree with the reviewer that
      2-3 of these deleted scenes definitely should’ve been in the final cut and wouldn’t be surprised if years from now a directors cut is released with some of these scenes inserted into the actual film. Without 1 of the deleted scenes, the kid from Bad Santa in the beginning has no connection to the group of kids, which he would if the scene was inserted. Also there was another scene where the kid with the shopping cart says that he would’ve got more jackolanterns if the fat kid from the beginning didn’t smash them all, once again linking the fat kid to the group of kids which I think would’ve been a nice touch. My only complaint other than these deleted scenes not being included is the chicks turnin into werewolves scene. Not sure where that came from, it certainly wasn’t a part of any halloween folklore I ever remember reading about. It was cool, but was a bit out of place to me considering how strict they were at sticking to the legends of the best holiday. Anyways I’ve already watched it 3 times since buying the blu-ray last tuesday. Certainly will be watched for years to come, an instant cult classic!!

    • Sandstonesoft

      Brilliant movie, and for all the reasons MattFini listed. Like he says, it brings nothing wheel-reinventing to the table, but instead concentrates on breathing new life into classic, fun, old-school Halloween horror, the type of horror film that has sadly become a lost art nowadays. Hopefully this movie will inspire a resurgence of this type of film making and jump-start a genre that has become bogged down with tired ideas, bad CGI and characters played by a million TV Commercial-attractive mannequins with the same dumb, empty expression on all of their faces.

    • Phantom9

      The push for blue-ray is really starting to tick me off. The stores in my town have stopped carrying the blue-ray disks because nobody’s buying them. Is everyone who buys dvds anymore gonna get screwed on extras? This film is one of my new favorites, but all I have on my dvd copy is the Seasons Greetings animation. Grrrr!

    • Cash Bailey

      Excellent movie.

      Well done Dougherty and Co.