Trick 'r Treat
Trick 'r Treat
2007. Directed by Michael Dougherty.
An anthology of four cautionary tales about the dangers of ignoring All Hallows' Eve tradition, Dougherty's first feature film, Trick 'r Treat is an instant Halloween classic that delivers a refreshingly smart horror comedy that is a tribute to the costumed season and a dark satire of the current state of the horror film genre.
Every piece of Trick 'r Treat is held together by Sam, the supernatural guardian of Halloween beliefs. The Intro story involves a woman paying the price for blowing out a jack o' lantern on Halloween night. The first chapter involves a murderous familial lesson on the intricate art of pumpkin carving. The second story involves the consequences of pranking the unsuspecting, while the third one is deals with the ever present sexual themes within horror movies. The last story is the most fun, using an ultra violent confrontation as a means to communicate the importance of the film's title. The conclusion ties everything together, with Sam heading towards the setting of the intro story, showing the exact order in which the events of the film take place.
Doughtery's script is a bloody love letter to Halloween, creating an enchanted mythology around the burlap sack headed Sam, the constant arbiter of horrific custom. The Midwestern location enhances the idea that these tales could happen in any American town, while also pointing at the commercialism that has enveloped the good-natured spirit of virtually every holiday. The characters within the film use Halloween as an excuse to transgress upon themselves and neighbors. Teachers have debauched bacchanals while passing out candy to students, scores get settled, and above all carnage is king, with the corpses of pumpkins littering the streets. The idea that Halloween is simply a night to dress scantily and act appallingly is explored and exploited, with Sam leading the proceedings. Doughtery's choice to end with the beginning is a slick accusation at the repetitive nature of the American calendar, which often leaves Halloween in the wake of tinsel and turkeys.
Glen Macpherson's cinematography has a home video feel that is right at home with the themes on display. Most of the horror is comedic, but Connie Parker's make up effects, particularly in "Surprise Party" deliver some genuine thrills. Trish Keating's costume design, especially for Sam is outstanding in its ability to make the mundane frightening and memorable. Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, and the always solid Brian Cox each star in a segment, with Cox's Halloween grump stealing the streetlight due to a hilariously madhouse performance.
Available now for digital rental, Trick 'r Treat is essential Halloween viewing. If you are a horror fan, or simply someone who is in love with the idea of what Halloween represents, see this film as quickly as you can. It's not high art, but it is a labor of love whose passion for the month of October cannot be denied as it pervades every inch of Trick 'r Treat's blood slicked streets, but remember, always check your candy before eating...