. All Hallow’s Eve. Samhain. The holiday associated with costumes, candy, carved pumpkins and of course, trick-or-treating. But like most holidays, these long-held traditions stem from important rituals long since forgotten. Halloween was not always just for the kiddies, and it had some very important rules that were to be followed with terrible consequences awaiting those who did not do so. The residents of Warren Valley hold their a festival on Halloween night, turning their sleepy town into a spectacle akin to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festivities. But some of the residents there are about to learn some very valuable lessons about this holiday and what can happen when the old rules are broken, and the warnings not heeded. Four tales of terror featuring a school principal who teaches a mischievous boy a valuable lesson, a group of kids learn the truth about a local legend that lies at bottom of the local rock quarry, a young woman is stalked by a masked stranger at the town festival, and an old-curmudgeon gets a very special trick-or-treater. Read on for my thoughts on one of the best, if not the best, Halloween themed films to date.
I would like to go ahead an let you know I gave this film 5 stars. I am letting you know this as I do not want to be responsible for over-hyping this film to to the point that a possible viewer’s expectations are raised to such dizzying heights that there is no chance in hell it can possibly meet them. I went into this film blind, only knowing the general synopsis and that it has been unanimously love by the horror movie reviewers that caught it at some of the early film festivals it was shown at. I recommend that if you have not seen this film, go in the same way and do not read the rest of this review – although as usual, there are no spoilers. However, if you do not care, or have seen the film already, please continue and share your thoughts on Trick ‘r Treat.
My love for Halloween, and everything that surrounds it, goes past the usual consumer trappings that it is usually associated with. Sure there is some nostalgia involved, as a kid I loved all the masks, candy, and horror related items on display. I too enjoyed the fact that for one day out of the year, to varying degrees, a large chunk of the population are horror fans like myself. But as I got older, Halloween began to mean a bit more to me.
I like the actual origins and what it stood for, the fact that on October 31st, the dead were granted access to the world they once inhabited and that while we must move forward in life, we should not forget those who no longer can. I like the days during the Halloween season. The damp ones with a slight chill carried on a slight breeze, a sky colored gunmetal gray obscuring the sun. Staring into the trees around my house while a light mist swirls around my ankles and above the forest floor now covered by a thick layer of leaves. Smelling woodsmoke in the air and hearing a crow caw from deep within the woods. It evokes a bit of excitement that accompanies fearing the unknown and as someone who does not believe in ghosts, monsters or the supernatural – the thought that if monsters do do exist, this is the time of year when they would make an appearance. But to be honest, I don’t really question it too much. I just love Halloween to pieces.
I have relayed this information to you as it does play a big part into why I am in love with Michael Dougherty‘s Trick ‘r Treat. It goes beyond just being a horror movie and is more like some kind of open love-letter from Michael Dougherty to Halloween itself on behalf of him and the rest of us who love it as much as he seems too. All of the things people love about the holiday will see it displayed in this film in an almost reverent fashion. Fallen leaves littering the ground by the truckload; the breath of the costumed characters seen in the cold, night air; the creepy neighborhood house; dark nights lit only by porch lights and lines of gapped-tooth jack-o-lanterns. And of course, all the things that go bump in the night – human and otherwise. To go into much detail on any of the tales contained in the film would be a disservice to those who have not seen it but i will say that each of them bring their own form of horror and all done so well, I would be hard pressed to pick one as a favorite.
The characters in these stories overlap slightly at times, characters from one being seen briefly in another, but the one common character that threads through them all, is the pint-sized, burlap sack wearing character of Sam. He is on the poster, and aside from being the film’s mascot, Dougherty created him from the pumpkin headed characters seen in early Halloween art. Halloween already has images associated with it, pumpkins, masks, candy, black cats, etc. But those are like candy canes, Christmas trees and snowmen to Christmas. Halloween needs a Santa Claus, goddammit, and the character of Sam is a perfect candidate. Dougherty’s creation is a perfect mascot not only for the film, but also for Halloween in general. His look, actions and purpose make him a solid choice as any and he has my vote if one is ever held.
The acting was great by all involved including the younger cast, especially Dylan Baker as the principal, Anna Paquin and Britt McKillip as the mean spirited Marcy. Douglas Pipes’ score, Gen MacPherson’s cinematography, the set designs – all of it is spot on and as an admitted fanboy of Halloween, I watched in both a state of glee and a bit of jealousy that this was not my creation. I am not sure who had a hand in creating the visuals of Trick ‘r Treat but I applaud them all. And not just the bloody, red stuff – which there is plenty of. But also the exterior of the houses and their decorations, the interior of the houses with fireplaces and dancing shadows, the leave swept streets in the neighborhoods and alleyways, the shadows in the fog, the creepy ass masks worn by some kids in a bus. I could just go on and on with just how well Dougherty and crew captured not only the look of Halloween, but the essence of it as well.
I cannot recommend this future horror classic any higher to both fans of horror and Halloween, and urge you to Netflix it or pick up the DVDBlu-Ray when it comes out on October 6th. This isn’t just a horror movie that happens to take place on Halloween, this is a horror movie about Halloween. For what it set out to do, Trick ‘r Treat succeeds in every regard. It truly is Halloween’s very own A Christmas Story.
Rating: That’s right, five of them.
I do not do this often, but I will be giving away two copies of the Trick ‘r Treat DVD. I pre-ordered the Bluray myself, but I also snagged a couple DVD’s in the process. There are no rules, simply choose the Trick’ ‘r Treat DVD Giveaway option in the subject line of our Contact Form with your shipping address. No worries about us spamming your mailbox with anything as we don’t have anything to spam it with. Well, aside from some nekkid pics of Jaded.
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