Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Horror Violence, Some Sexuality/Nudity and Language
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Written by: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Leslie Bibb, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox
It is odd that so few horror movies really capture the essence of Halloween. Even the ones set around the perennial holiday fail to show the spirit of All Hallows Eve. Arguably there are two film that have become essential viewing for every October. One of those is John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, which caught the atmosphere of the holiday, even if it was just a slasher set on the night. TRICK ‘R TREAT does justice to October 31 though. Weaving four (five, if you count the prologue) stories together on a single Halloween night, this is like CREEPSHOW by way of PULP FICTION. It also is one of the very few modern horror movies that I would call an instant classic.
To reveal too many details about any of the stories would take away some of the fun to be had, so I will be vague. A school principal lives a night life as a serial killer. A group of kids try to pull a prank on a fellow peer, not knowing that there may be some truth to a local urban legend. A young woman’s quest to lose her virginity takes a bloody turn. Finally, a grumpy old man is terrorized by a mysterious trick-or-treater. The stories are all connected by intertwining events, such as the local Halloween parade that ties two of them together or a couple of stories that begin on the same street. The clever ties that bind these tales of horror together make for a lot of enjoyment. This is one of those movies where you notice something new every single time you watch it (which should be every October).
While some may expect TRICK ‘R TREAT to be frightening, they will actually discover that the movie is a perfect horror-comedy. It mixes the scares and humor in a way that doesn’t feel too overly scary or too campy. It’s a FUN movie that is the very definition of the word. The production values here are stunning. I didn’t spot a single mistake or misstep in either the plot or filming. This is a love letter to the horror genre and Halloween, one that gives piles everything a horror fan could want into 82 minutes of flawless entertainment.
The casting is also phenomenal across the board as well. There are young talents on display, along with well-known faces. Dylan Baker is hilarious as the principal who takes great care in the poisoning and tainting of his Halloween candy. Anna Paquin plays Laurie, the 22-year-old virgin on the hunt for her first. Brian Cox (from RED and X-MEN 2) plays the equivalent of the Mr. Scrooge of Halloween finding his reckoning in the form of the odd-looking Sam, a trick-or-treater with a sharpened lollipop and a candy bar with a razor inside.
Though all the stories are stellar, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the final one involving Mr. Kreeg and Sam. The tension is intense and the character of Sam himself has become a common costume to see at horror conventions (for good reason). The concluding minutes of TRICK ‘R TREAT wrap up every plotline perfectly and the final shot is one hell of a way to end the film. Honestly, I get chills just thinking about it.
The acclaim that TRICK ‘R TREAT has received is deserved. It truly is a shame that Warner Bros. mistreated the movie. Many should consider it to be an act of cinematic criminal behavior. This didn’t deserve to sit on a shelf for two years and then be carelessly thrown onto the direct-to-video market. This is a modern classic of the horror genre and hands down, the best horror anthology ever created! A seasonal masterpiece!