Trick 'r Treat (2008)
Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, Lauren Lee Smith
Directed by Mike Dougherty
You’ve heard it all before but this time it’s for real: Trick ‘r Treat is the film that horror fans have been waiting for - the antidote to every insipid remake, sequel and over hyped “holy grail” we’ve had to suffer through in recent years. Bursting onto the screen with endless energy, first-time director Michael Dougherty (co-writer of X-Men 2 and Superman Returns) has cast aside all pretensions and delivered a wildly entertaining slice of EC Comics gold equal to Creepshow and the very best of Tales from the Crypt.
Told over the course of a single Halloween night, the story follows a multitude of characters (teens, parents, several small kids and one angry old man) through four interweaving stories. At the center of it all is the diabolical Sam – a creepy kid who sports an iconic mask and delivers his own brand of havoc throughout. To say anything more would be criminal, but these classic anthology stories waste no time delivering the gory goods.
This is the kind of horror movie that reminds us why we fell in love with horror movies. It may not be high art, but Trick r’ Treat brings back a kind of purity that has long been absent from movie screens: The feeling of an old school monster mash best viewed in a theater full of cheering fans. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of spook house “rollercoasters” over the years, but even the best ones have had a degree of artificiality to them. Dougherty understands exactly what makes these movies tick and serves it all up with a series of perfectly timed laughs, shocks, twists and practical make-up FX gags.
On top of it all, Trick r’ Treat’s beautiful cinematography and score generates an atmosphere thick enough to insulate your house and, combined with stellar sets and costumes, brings All Hallow’s Eve to vivid life like never before. The cast is also of a much higher caliber for a film of this type with esteemed actors like Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, and Dylan Baker delivering crazed performances that are an absolute blast to watch. Dougherty’s clever script also deserves special props for its unrelenting and savage sense of humor (which definitely pushes the envelope by Hollywood standards).
When all is said and done, Trick ‘r Treat ranks alongside John Carpenter’s Halloween as traditional October viewing and I can’t imagine a single horror fan that won’t fall head over heels in love with it. There’s just one problem: Warner Bros doesn’t give a shit. For two years, the studio has refused to release this little gem, while it continues to crank out unwatchable bottom-of-the-barrel dreck like Return to House on Haunted Hill and Lost Boys: The Tribe. This is one of the biggest injustices to our beloved genre, and in a perfect world, Warner would be put on trial for crimes against cinema. Come what may, movie lovers finally have something worth getting excited about and it’s great to see that real talent can still slip through the cracks.
5 out of 5