I know terms like “genuinely clever” and “horror film” don’t get tossed around together very often. For every “Saw” there’s a “Saw 2-17.” For every “Nightmare on Elm Street” there’s a “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake. And for every “Hostel” there’s a… well, yeah that was pretty much just a snuff film. Anyway, that’s why it’s such a SHAME that this movie was relegated to the bargain bin of straight to DVD titles at your local Blockbuster (that place we used to rent movies). I remember getting pumped for a Halloween ’07 theatrical release, but then it just mysterious vanished. After some exhaustive research…
… I discovered that Warner Bros. had almost inexplicably shelved the project. Clearly there are some competing theories as to why, although my money is on Warner Bros. having a personal vendetta against me ever since that time I slept with its sister. So while “Trick ‘r Treat” has to bare the scarlett letter of having never seen the silver screen, you could never tell from the cast, production values, or writing. It has a unique blend of fright, drama, wit and dark comedy, perfectly balanced to please even the most skeptical of movie goers.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call this the “Pulp Fiction” of scary movies. TRT is comprised of four interwoven tales taking place on the night of Halloween, previously All Hallow’s Eve, previously Samhain (Celtic festival of the dead), previously, I don’t know, Jesus Christ’s high school graduation. The stories overlap in subtle but exciting ways, leapfrogging across the timeline like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap. Except instead of getting advice from a charming Dean Stockwell hologram, most of these characters are getting stabbed and tortured.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but basically you have four different chapters in this saga. First, the local principal who takes the evening’s traditions very seriously. Second, the sexy female out-of-towners looking to pop their gal’s cherry. Third, a group of teens out to prank it up. And finally, the cantankerous old shut in who learns a harsh lesson about the true meaning of Halloween. I guess technically there’s a fifth subplot that sort of sandwiches the whole thing together. Sort of like the engine and caboose on a murder train heading straight to nightmareville, USA.
It’s great to see familiar characters popping up around in the background, seeing how their narratives imbricate, and more than a few “holy shit, I did NOT see that coming” moments. There are plenty of jump out and “BOO” scenes, but it’s the buildup in my mind that’s most impressive. I had the whole seat to myself, but only ended up needed the edge. With so much story going on, it never got boring or formulaic. Victims become villains, villains become heroes, and heroes become dismembered corpses. Genuinely creepy, original, and entertaining, it’s a shame that “Trick ‘r Treat” didn’t become more of a commercial success. So I’m doing my small part to convince you to see it come next Halloween.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!