The Halloween season is approaching! While I personally am not a fan of dressing up and going out in public (says something about myself), I do love to stay in, order Chinese, sip on some alcohol and watch horror movies for the entire month. As yes, it does all cap with watching John Carpenter’s Halloween on that hallowed night.
In a tease for the month of scares, I recently watched the mid-2000 surprise hit, Trick ‘r Treat. You look on any list of “underrated horror movies” on Buzzfeed, this movie may pop up. The comedy-horror (more-comedy than otherwise) has five short vignettes interwoven with one-another, each taking a different classic horror movie concept and flipping it upside the head.
We have a normal-everyday parent who is truly a serial killer; a virgin female who is trying to experience her first time the proper time; teenagers being mean to a loner classmate; a parent who is trying to recapture childhood being attached to holiday to fervently; and a supernatural alien type thing that loves to kill.
It sounds like a lot, but Trick ‘r Treat does fly by in a brisk 82 minute run tine. The stories weaving together play with the timeline and toy with audience expectations. The best surprise comes when the story surrounding Laurie, played by Anna Paquin just before her True Blood fame. She is the virgin college student cliché, but that innocence portrayed in her little Red Riding Hood costume preys on the ignorance of the viewers.
The sticking point of Trick ‘r Treat is that there is no true central plot. That is a problem with meshing five small stories together into a single motion picture. It’s hard to get excited for an ending when you don’t have truly immense stakes put into any of the individual characters. The atmosphere and unique creativity is enough to carry a view through the stories, but at the end there is a dull sense of “what was the point?”
The main winner coming out of the end of Trick ‘r Treat is writer and director Michael Dougherty. He is a fan of fantasy and horror movies, having made two video shorts around Trick ‘r Treat and most recently being the story-script for X-Men Apocalypse and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. In between there is Krampus, another b-list horror tale that has its fans.
The look of Trick ‘r Treat is unique, most notably in the story surrounding the rather evil high school kids. In a prank that involves a diving deep into a supposedly haunted bog, there is a rickety elevator that is the best “scarecrow” type of object in the movie. Whenever the contraption is the frame, it looks great. The shots I remember most from this movie involve that elevator and the occupants going in and out of it its rusting metallic confines.
Dougherty makes the most of his 82 minutes. The pace is quick enough to make Trick ‘r Treat enjoyable despite some of its flaws. Not all the stories pack a punch, but those moments of off-equilibrium make it worth the viewing. Don’t go in expecting the world and you’ll find yourself happy you get this short sliver of escape.
Should note that there is a sequel to Trick ‘r Treat in the works, scheduled to come out in 2020 with Michael Dougherty attached.
STANKO RATING: C