“ Genre: Horror / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Michael Dougherty / Actors: Dylan Baker, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb ... / DVD released 2009-10-26 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 2007, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 82 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: Michael Dougherty
PRODUCER: Bryan Singer
MUSIC: Douglas Pipes
MAIN CAST....Far too many to mention
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Trick 'R Treat, as most will probably expect, takes place during Halloween. It is divided into four sections which comprise four separate yet vaguely intertwining stories.
Emma is murdered in the Halloween effigy-strewn garden whilst her husband lounges indoors watching a porn movie, serial killer Steve bumps a kid off by feeding him poisoned candy, five young people go off to explore the 30-year-old mystery of the 'School Bus Massacre', Laura is persuaded by her friends to dress up as Little Red Riding Hood for their Halloween celebrations and cranky recluse Kreeg gets a good dose of karma when it comes to light that he despises Halloweeen (yep that's five, but two of them are sort of both halves of one).
Trick 'R Treat opens fairly well, with Emma wandering around inside the garden of the house she shares with her husband. The atmosphere is moderately creepy, then the storyline hikes up a notch on the interest stakes...plus gets a bit strange...when Steve feeds a young boy more chocolate than anybody could possibly consider eating, only to get covered with projectile vomit as the boy dies. Kreeg comes into the proceedings here briefly, although his own story is the last in the quartet.
As the film got properly underway, I had the sense of simply not knowing what was going to happen next, and I think it was that which kept me going, as by this time my attention was starting to flag.
In the normal way, I usually like these films which are a collection of separate stories, and Hammer knocked out quite a few good ones during the late 1960s and through the 1970s. However, this format doesn't quite work in Trick 'R Treat, as each story is confusing, far too over the top, bizarre and over-exaggerated. I found myself getting some of the characters mixed up, because instead of presenting each story as completely separate entities, they did intertwine at certain points, and there was a lot of jumping about from one to the other which made the film bitty and untidy.
I guess that Trick 'R Treat is intended to be humorous, but apart from one single line where, in extenuating circumstances a man is asked what his name is and replies "I'm Steve"....it's the way he says it and the situation he's in which makes it amusing... and the character of Kreeg whose favourite form of salutation appears to be "Screw you!!", there was nothing at all in this film which even caused me to raise a smile, let alone laugh out loud.
Each of the stories I found to be shallow and tedious, although I did enjoy the legend of 'The School Bus'....not what the characters do once the tale is told, but the event itself which was supposed to have happened thirty years earlier. I found the tale of 'The School Bus' interesting, as it is quite feasible, but when a group of kids dressed in Halloween gear goes on a mission to pay homage to the 30-year-old tragedy, the boat of credibility is pushed far out into some ocean of madness which I found utterly boring and confusing.....also, perhaps one of the female characters in this section ought to be taught that the word 'route' is pronounced 'root', and not as 'rout'.
The acting is moderately OK, but apart from the guy who played the character of Kreeg, certainly is nothing to write home about, with the worst offerings coming from the group of girls who persuade their friend Laura to dress as Little Red Riding Hood. Kreeg did make me smile a little here and there, but none of the other characters stuck out in my mind at all.
The music is quite loud, being dramatic orchestral in nature, but about halfway through there is a rather good cover version of The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) used, although I was unable to work out its relevance to the storyline.
I am given to understand that Trick 'R Treat won a couple of awards, but I honestly can't see why. Some of the special effects are reasonably good, and I do appreciate that it isn't a film which should be taken seriously, but for me it is a maelstrom of disconnected madness which jumps about far too much, has some shaky camera work, isn't really all that amusing (at least to me!) and contains some lengthy tedious stretches. Even though it is only 82 minutes long, it seemed to me as if it was going on forever, ad nauseum!
In summary, I honestly think this is one of these DVDs which will find its way to my local charity shop shelves, and I just hope that whoever buys it enjoys it much more than I did.....in a nutshell, I was simply bored, bored, bored!
At the time of writing, Trick 'R Treat can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.47 to £17.99
Used: from £1.21 to £7.00
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
NB: Should anybody wish to hunt for this film on Amazon with a view to purchasing, the search term Trick 'R Treat yields no results, despite this being the actual title. However, you will be able to access the correct DVD if you type the words Trick Or Treat into the Amazon search window.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
This was another Amazon-browsing find, one that I came across when I was in the mood for a trashy horror. I didn't expect much from it despite a few decent reviews, so I wasn't too disappointed.
This was written and directed by Michael Dougherty (who seems to have worked on a couple of things but nothing that really stands out to me). Trick r Treat is based on 4 interlinked storylines taking place in Warren Valley, Ohio, that happen on the 'scariest' day of the year: Halloween. A group of teens pull a prank, a school principle is a secret serial killer, a college virgin meets the perfect guy and an anti-Halloween woman has to put up with her Halloween-loving hubby. The film then takes us through the events of that night, what each character/group of characters gets up to, and some devilish goings-on.
I won't say any more on the premise, partly because I can't anyway. I couldn't really work out much of a plot from this film, rather, it was more a mashing together of small stories, none of which were particularly interesting. The cast includes Brett Kelly, Rochelle Aytes and Dylan Baker amongst others, and no names that I recognise. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but no actor stood out to me for any reason and there were no awards to be one for believability. The acting on the whole wasn't dire, but it definitely could have been better.
Having said that, I think the acting was also pulled down by the weak premise and script, both of which could have been made quicker, wittier and more interesting. The settings were average, which is really how I'd describe the film on the whole. Average. Nothing stood out for me and nothing was memorable. In fact, after watching this I struggled to remember anything. I can't say that I felt gripped, engrossed or thrilled at any point, but it was easy to watch because it required no thought and little in the way of attention.
I'm afraid that there's not really much else I can say on this. It was bland and below par, so not something I'd recommend if you want a snuggle-up-horror-film session. By missing this film, you won't be missing out on much.
DVD released 2009, rated certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £4.49
A review of the film and DVD presentation.
In a reasonably quiet Iowa town named Warren Valley, the residents take to the streets for their annual celebration of Hallowe'en. But amidst the costumes and tomfoolery, there are more sinister events taking place.
Principal Steven Wilkins holds the traditions of Halloween in high regard, and isn't very impressed when one of the town children vandalises all the pumpkins on the street and steals the candy left out for everyone. But then Principal Wilkins has a dark secret that has remained hidden for years...
Sisters Danielle and Laurie have come to Warren Valley with their two best friends to join in the festivities as they usually do at this time of year. Adorned in alluring fancy dress, the four girls set about finding a date for the night, although Laurie (the virgin of the group) seems to be having more difficulty. As the girls separate, Laurie is left alone to ponder the delights and dangers of dating...
Four children are collecting Halloween lanterns for a special purpose. With limited success, they stop off at a house to meet up with a girl who is seen to be a little 'special'. Rhonda is fully versed in the traditions of Halloween, and with so many lanterns around her house, the children are easily able to collect the eight lanterns they require. They proceed to head out to a remote part of town, where a disused quarry yields a terrifying urban legend...
An old man named Mr Kreeg lives alone on a quiet street and dreads the annual event of Halloween. He has a particular dislike for trick or treat and sends his dog out, complete with spooky head gear, to frighten off any children that darken his door. But tonight, Mr Kreeg is going to learn his lesson. There are some traditions it would be better just to quietly respect....
I've always been a huge fan of films and series like Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow. Very often, it seems that shorter tales can be spookier than feature length films. Without the need to get bogged down in lengthy dialogue and detailed characterisation, a compendium of stories can hurtle ghoulishly along, yielding one surprise after another. It's a format that works well in books, comics, radio plays, TV shows or, as for Trick R Treat, movies and I'm amazed that this kind of material isn't produced more frequently. Indeed, the most common occurrence these days tends to be in the annual (and usually excellent) Simpsons Halloween episode.
Written and directed by Michael Dougherty, Trick R Treat is an affectionate horror tribute to all the traditions of celebrating Halloween. Dougherty is a self-confessed addict where it comes to Halloween, as evidenced by his first feature, which was themed in the much the same way (although he went on to write X2 and Superman Returns). Of course, in the UK, Halloween is nowhere near such a big deal as it is in the US, which is vaguely ironic given that the festival has its origins on this side of the pond. Indeed, some of the traditions that we might associate with Halloween (things like bobbing for apples) aren't even mentioned here, so it's worth bearing in mind that this is very much an Americanised celebration of Halloween and how *they* celebrate the traditions. It's filmed as a series of four stories, all woven together with characters that crossover from one story to another in a number of fiendish ways, and it's really, really entertaining.
Chronologically, there's a little bit of jumping around. The scene that takes place prior to the main titles, for example, takes place after much of the action we see later on in the four main stories. During the first three stories, you tend to see glimpses of people and events that don't make complete sense, until the fourth story, which kind of neatly wraps everything up. Unlike other compendia, you couldn't really enjoy each of these stories on their own. Whilst they do have distinct, independent narratives, they're very closely connected, and the real enjoyment comes from seeing the ways in which they are linked together. The recurring theme throughout seems to be a spooky little figure in a Halloween costume who crops up at the climax of each of the first three tales.
As with many of these productions, Trick R Treat isn't intended to be taken completely seriously. It is reasonably horrific and employs lots of genre-typical spooky touches and effects to try and unsettle its audience. But it could never be described as a 'serious' horror. It's filled with dark humour, particularly in the first story, which manages to fuse together some rather macabre violence with a borderline farcical comedy about murder and serial killers. What's good about it all (and the sign of a reasonably entertaining horror compendium) is that the writer hasn't completely avoided some of the strongest horror taboos. He's not afraid to kill children, for example, and so, despite the 15 certificate, there's a reasonably strong level of shock and surprise here to ensure you're never quite sure what to expect.
Whilst Dougherty doesn't actually 'steal' any of his ideas, it would be foolish to suggest that you can't see countless inspirations from other horror/Halloween themed movies. A scene with a rather menacing looking character standing still at the side of the road could have been lifted straight from Halloween itself, for example, but Dougherty otherwise fights to keep this original, ever-conscious of the waiting critics trying to suggest that it's all a big rip-off. Ardent fans of this material will find the story telling slightly predictable simply through experience. One of the rules of the horror compendium is that nothing is quite what it seems, and when you go into Trick R Treat with this expectation, it's not long before you draw conclusions about what might actually happen and who might turn out to be what.
There's a recurring them running throughout the entire film, whereby anybody who is disrespectful towards the festival, its customs or the inhabitants of the spirit world is pretty much guaranteed to come to a sticky end. But that doesn't mean that it still won't catch you up. A character that comes out on top in one of the stories might just come a cropper later on. At seventy-nine minutes, the film never outstays its welcome either, with a brisk, pretty action-packed running time that never once allows the audience to grow bored. In fact, a reasonable criticism of the movie as a whole would be that it jaunts along just a little *too*fast at times. You can't help feeling that events and/or character introduced in one segment are too rapidly forgotten by the next and there are some under-developed ideas here. The identity of the little figure that crops up throughout the film is only really partially revealed and there's a definite pointlessness to making him a recurring figure in the way that the film does. The most over-riding criticism of the whole thing would be a lack of authentic atmosphere too. Everything here feels like an extremely polished film set, from the parade running through town, to the houses decorated with lanterns and ghosts, through to the old man's house at the end. It's a very superficial production, reliant on effects, very obvious sound effects and some brisk writing, largely intended to distract the audience from any weaknesses.
The film boasts a reasonably large cast, given only that there are quite a number of different characters featured in total. Brian Cox seems to have enormous fun as a curmudgeonly old war veteran that finds his house infiltrated by something nasty with a bag of sweets. Cox's distinctive voice is almost unrecognisable here, amidst his wheezing and swearing and whilst he's a bit over-the-top, he's unquestionably entertaining. Dylan Baker has equal amounts of fun as the sinister school principal with a secret. Baker is very much the pantomime villain here (in more than just one way) but he's comically convincing as the neighbourhood serial killer.
Anna Paquin (who played Rogue in the X Men movies) seems a little under utilised here. This is partly driven by the script, which requires a very understated performance, but she only really gets to come into her own for a few minutes of screen time. There are some good performances from the teenaged pranksters of story number three here too, particularly from Britt McKillip who starts off so nice and rapidly shows her own true colours.
This film works reasonably well on DVD. It's not an enormous, effects-laden blockbuster that benefits from huge screen presentation and, arguably, is more enjoyable via the intimacy of a smaller screen. The picture is clean enough and the quality is good - you can tell that this was originally conceived for the big screen. There's a slightly grainy quality applied to much of the action, but that works well amidst the night time setting.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack works well here. This is a film stuffed full of sound effects, from creepy gates squeaking in the wind, to the leaves blowing across a blood-stained pathway, and the DVD picks these things out nicely. There are also various moments when the sounds of whispering or breathing are critical to the story and the soundtrack highlights them perfectly.
The region 2 DVD comes with four special features (more than the region 1 presentation for once, in fact).
Trick R Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween - a sort of featurette/documentary combination that mixes behind-the-scenes footage from the film with interviews and a narration from Brian Cox about the true history of Halloween. It's a good idea and would work particularly well as a promotional aid, but it's slightly sycophantic. Everyone seems to go on endlessly about the director's love of Halloween and it wears thin. The combination of material related to the film and the historical material works well here, but it is very Americanised.
Additional Scenes - curiously, these scenes do come with a commentary from the director when the main film doesn't. There are four or five scenes in total. They're all longer versions of existing scenes, although given the film's short running time they would have been fine retained in the finished version. A couple of them were quite funny too - I'd have left those in.
Season's Greeting - an animated and characterful short, this one's a bit grainy and tired looking but it's very much in keeping with the actual film.
School Bus FX comparison - this is interesting enough for anyone interested in the technical side of the film making but otherwise pretty dull.
All in, however, the special features are a reasonable addition to the package and at least the distributor hasn't relied solely on a trailer and a flat commentary.
Enormously appealing from start to finish, Trick R Treat is the perfect Halloween film - a scary movie that doesn't take itself *too* seriously but knows when to spill the guts. The stories work well together and the production is cohesively written. Outside the US, some viewers might find this a little too Americanised, but otherwise this is much more treat than trick.
- - - - - - - - - -
In a nutshell
- - - - - - - - - -
TRICK 'R TREAT contains four interweaving stories taking place on Halloween night in a small town in Ohio.
We get to see friendly school principal Mr Wilkin's secret life as a serial killer, while a group of his students prepare to play a cruel prank on classmate Wanda. Meanwhile virginal Laurie and her man-hungry sorority sisters are visiting town for a party and she decides tonight's THE night and a grouchy old recluse who hates Halloween recieves an unwelcome trick or treater.
- - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - -
I remember reading about a upcoming horror film called TRICK 'R TREAT way back in 2006. It was going to be a similar style to cult classic Creepshow and would recieve a cinematic release in October 2007. Then it's release was pushed back to October 2008.
So I eagerly waited and waited... and eventually forgot all about it, until I happened to come across it last week. So how did it fare under the weight of four years of anticipation?
Wow covers my thoughts nicely. I honestly can't remember the last time I enjoyed a film so much; It just ticks all of the boxes for me. The acting is solid, the pace never drags, the visuals are stunning and the balance between tension, gore and comedy is spot on.
The style is a bit similar to Creepshow in that there are four seperate stories at play; But here they are all in motion at the same time, the characters sometimes cross paths and we go back and forth in the timeline by a few hours.
I thought Laurie and her tale stood above the others as that plot thread has the biggest twist. That's not to say that the other threads pale in comparison - they don't. But if you have seen a few horror movies you'll find them a bit predictable. The prankster kids is the weakest link on the predictability score, but it's still fun to watch it all unfold.
One word of warning: I keep calling it a horror film, but it's not really. I'd class it as a dark comedy. There are a few jumpy bits and moderate gore, but if you want a true horror film look elsewhere.
TRICK 'R TREAT was written and directed by Michael Dougherty (He also wrote X-men and Superman Returns).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Trick r Trick: The Lore and legends of Halloween
27 minute documentry exploring the origin of Halloween and how they are intermingled in the film. It contains snippets from the film, so don't watch this before the film.
17 minutes; Features 6 extended scenes, they run as one reel.
Trick r Treat: Season's Greetings
3 minute cartoon focusing on character Sam.
School Bus FX Comparison
1 minute; Split screen of the bus in the quarry.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Format: Anamorphic, PAL
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Castilian Spanish
Region: Region 2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
- - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - -
Dylan Baker ... Steven
Rochelle Aytes ... Maria
Quinn Lord ... Sam
Lauren Lee Smith ... Danielle
Moneca Delain ... Janet
Tahmoh Penikett ... Henry
Brett Kelly ... Charlie
Britt McKillip ... Macy
Isabelle Deluce ... Sara
Jean-Luc Bilodeau ... Schrader
Alberto Ghisi ... Chip
Samm Todd ... Rhonda
Anna Paquin ... Laurie
Brian Cox ... Mr. Kreeg
Leslie Bibb ... Emma
Trick R Treat was slow to come to conception, with it's release being repeatedly delayed from 2007 and when it finally materialised for an audience two years after it was finished it went straight to the DVD market. Movies that recieve such treatment are often considered a bit trashy but this one has accrued a bit of interest and even picked up a Screenfest Audience Award in 2008.
The movie begins like a typical teen slasher and sees one half of a lovey-dovey couple come to their end in a game of stalker chase. It's reminiscent of when Drew Barrymore gets whacked in 'Scream' so it doesn't feel very new or original. What happens next though, really defines the movie in terms of it's aims and direction.
The comic book credits remind us not to take this movie quite so seriously and infact I'd define the movie as more of a comedy-horror rather than a straight out gory horror. It has much in common with Stephen King style horror movies as there is more than a pinch of humour and oddball characters thrown into the mix. King, known for taking cameo roles in every movie he produces, would definately have fitted into the role of Trick R' Treat's Principal Steven. There are also a great deal of child actors involved in this who have just the right amount of stage-school comedy timing and sharp delivery and a couple of whom remind me of the quartet of talented boys in the classic coming-of-age movie 'Stand By Me'.
The movie takes place in America on a bustling Halloween night. There are several interweaving storylines in the movie and they just twist into one another - there is no moment where one story ends and another begins. However, we don't flit with frequency from one story to the other either, infact spending long periods of time devoted to each 'segment', before briefly cutting to the other action. This for me is a bit of a problem as when watchng for the first time I was never quite certain what was going on or what the relevance was with each piece. I made the mistake of thinking there are actual fully fleshed characters in this movie that you can invest in wheras infact they are all just blank pawns to be sacfriced to death games. Once you realise this you can relax and enjoy the blood and guts! Perhaps I'm also asking to be spoon fed a little bit but I think a 'Creepshow' style mini movie with each story having a clear beginning and end would help improve clarity or I would at least like a little more obvious intergration between each storyline.
One major story involves some of the bigger name actresses taking part in the project: Mutant X and C.S.I star Lauren Lee Smith and True Blood's Anna Paquin who play sisters who gang up with friends for the evening. The giggling twenty-somethings provide brilliant eye-candy and their quest to enjoy Halloween night by partying with guys is fun to watch and proves that Halloween seems to be way more fun in the U.S than it is for adults in the U.K! Their tale seems kind of standard with the youngest of the group (Paquin) trying to lose her virginity. There is a terrible twist here though, which I never saw coming and which I found shocking and funny. The culmination of this story provides a visually disgusting 'bleugh' moment, the kind of which I've never seen before in other horror movies.
Another story follows a group of children led by tough talking Britt McKillip as they traul houses for Halloween candy. After befriending an awkward girl savant who lives in the neighborhood the gaggle of kids descend into a marshy wasteland where, legend has it, a group of naughty and/or emotionally unstable kids were driven to their deaths on a schoolbus after their parents agreed on a mass slaughter! We are treated to this macabre urban legend in flashback form and it's very bleak and quite amusing at the same time. This story also has a twist in it, but it's a bit more standard in terms of plot and horror action. There are a lot of obvious horror story devices used which you can see coming a mile off. Still, it's quite entertaining all the same and there is just bucketloads of blood and gore involved!
The creepiest character in the piece is Dylan Baker's Principal Steven who is just grotesque but undoubtedly funny. I found aspects of his story to be quite original and unexpected. There are also some great tense moments and a lot of horrific gore and gunge involved in his story. Baker plays it for laughs whilst managing to do the most horrific things that makes me feel like I've got bugs crawling under my skin! This segement reminded me most of all of those daft but gory to the extreme 1980's horror movies like 'April Fool's Day'.
There is one final tail end story about a strange costumed little kid-monster who is kind of like a juvenile Mike Myers or Jason Voorhees and who terrorises an old couch potato in the neighborhood. There seems to be no particular reason for this terror onslaught until the end of the piece when there is a clever reveal. It's a little slow for me though and there is very little dialogue during this segment, mostly because the horror kid is strange and mute. There is only the two of them battling it out also, so it seems a little barebones and the adult character offers nothing in terms of being interesting to watch. I think it would have been better slipped into the movie mid-way through.
Ultimately this is the kind of horror movie I would call 'old school' and the likes of which I haven't seen since the eighties. It's fun, it's horrific and it's a bloodbath of gruesome tricks which, if you love messy horrors, will be right up your alley! I think it's something I will enjoy watching again and again. I think this is a horror that for younger viewers will probably seem amazing, shocking and very different from the other horrors around today. To me, a more mature viewer, it's very like a lot of cult eighties horrors only with better effects and better actors. It may be one that you'll either love or hate though.
The movie is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray, certificate 18.
Trick 'r Treat
Film Duration: 82 minutes
Director: Michael Dougherty
Country: United States
Rating: 16 years and older
Lord and Sam Quinn
Brian Cox as Mr.. Received
Dylan Baker as Steven Wilkins
Connor Christopher Levins Billy Wilkins
Anna Paquin as Laurie
Leslie Bibb as Emma
The film is set in a small town in America where they just started with the celebration of Halloween. The city is holding a big parade and children are busy with all the houses along the way for Trick or Treat. But the evening is not only the sign of pleasure, but also various types of evil are presents in the street. The head of the local school has his strange nocturnal activities; a group of schoolchildren are trying to set up another girl with a scary legend involving a school bus with disturbed children that drove into in a lake and the children were never found back; Laurie is with friends in town, and they try to find a lover for her, while they themselves are soon also busy with local men and the neighbour of the head of the local school is visited by a little devil named Sam. Strange little stories/happenings going on in one town but the main question is: Will anyone survive the night?
I know only Anna Paquin of the series True Blood, but the rest of the actors are unknown to me. That doesn't mean that the performances are bad, they are actually very good and believable. For a horror film you do not expect the perfect Oscar worthy performances, but it must be credible. You feel the fear in the actors here and there and it is still surprising what will happen. So Dylan Baker plays the role of Steven Wilkins, the head of the school, with a dark side. He is very sinister and fits very well in his role. But just love Anna Paquin and she acts very well and is fun to watch. In general, good performance.
There is unfortunately only one extra on the DVD. This extra is a small animation of about 4 minutes where we meet Sam in a little bit sinister movie. It's funny to watch after the movie, but not really interesting. Shame about the extras, certainly had expected something more.
Trick r Treat is a real Halloween horror movie, but very different from standard film. The story is hard to explain, because there are different stories that are happening in town and actually have little to do with each other. You see different horror situations where you may just see a small part of a different story again. See you a little bit of the neighbour in the beginning when it's about the head of the school and later you see what really has happening when it's actually telling the story about the neighbour. Although the scenes are well done and exciting, the movie is more about that it's just very strange, mainly because all the scenes really have nothing to do with each other. You actually watch the entire movie on the "clue" or more the answer to what everyone has to do with one another. A shame really, but the film is more entertaining enough to watch it. Definitely a must if you love horror films, because the scenes are exciting and well executed.
Trick r Treat plays out in four intertwining horror stories, all happening at the same Hallowe'en celebrations in a town in America, the plots of which I'm going to overview quickly here.
The first story is about a high school principal (Dylan Baker), who poisons a child stealing candy, before burying his body. A simple enough start.
The second story is about a group of teenagers who go down to the quarry. There, one of them tells the story of a class of "special" students, all with problems so bad they had to be chained to the seats. They were sent to a special school out of town, but one day, the parents had grown to ashamed of their kids and paid the bus driver to drive off a quarry. The teenagers are about to find out how real the legend is.
The third story concerns Laurie (Anna Paquin), a 22 year old virgin, looking for the "right man". Joining her sisters at a party, she runs into a vampire, and things are about to get a lot too real.
The fourth story is about Kreeg (Brian Cox), who hates Hallowe'en and is a general grump. After scaring children away from his porch, he is visited by terrifying Sam - the scary child in costume and a recurring character in the plots.
Ok, that's a rough summary I think. What I like about Trick r Treat is how very "campfire"-y the stories are. It's like we're being fed four completely different horror stories, and they're all quite different in their own way, in the middle of the night at a camp, and it really works. It's probably one of the best horror films I've seen in a while just for its simplicity. When a plot is done it doesn't try to stretch it out for another 70 minutes, it just stops and starts with another story, so none of the stories really have time to get bad.
It's classic horror with some classic horror elements, as well as a couple of pretty good twists. I like them all, but I think the reveal in the third story was the best. It's a pretty short film, only about 80 minues long but like the individual plots the whole film is short and sweet, which while being good, in a way doesn't leave enough time to really get scared.
So it's not incredibly scary, but it's a good horror film. It does what it says it does, and its refusal to do any more makes it better than a majority of the horrors I've seen recently. There's a fair bit of blood and guts, but not nearly as much as some of the more over-the-top films you get these days that play only for shock and gore value.
All in all, Trick r Treat is a simple, but quite effective horror, and the short subjects mean that whatever they're throwing at you is constantly changing so you don't get bored.
During the 1960's and 70's it became fashionable for horror movies to venture out into new direction, once such direction was the horror anthology, the style was generally 2, 3, 4, and sometimes 5 individual horror stories to be featured in one movie. One of the most popular of these movies was the British made Asylum which featured a star studded cast in a variety of horrific adventures. By the 1980's the idea had dried up Creepshow, The Twilight Zone and Nightmares was the last serious attempt to make this sort of style movie. Now after a well earned rest director Michael Dougherty has rebooted the idea with the movie Trick 'r' Treat, a very different horror anthology movie and one that's making the critics sing its praises.
Set in a small town the movie moves in and out of a number of different stories that by the films conclusion are all connected. The connection to all the movies is made by the cute character Sam (presumably shortened from Samhain the original name for Halloween). Cuteness it seems is his game, and this 3 foot bundle of delight is the only real terror you'll find in the movie.
Like the traditional style for anthology movies the producers have gathered together original Hannibal Lector actor Brian Cox, Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood), and Dylan Baker (Fido, Murder One, Disclosure) as the movies main cast, the supporting cast will be familiar to anyone that enjoys either movies or popular TV.
Trick 'r' Treat treads in the shoes of every sort of horror movie or real life monster, child killers, Vampires, Predatory Stalkers, Monsters, and Werewolves all feature; from the faceless to those that have a face you should be able to trust, but all lightly knitted together by more than just a hint of good humour. And this is the real wonder of Trick 'r' Treat its not out and out horror, it's a movie that deliberately tries not to take itself too seriously, its designed to be as funny as it is scary.
Like the aforementioned Creepshow, Trick 'r' Treat is weaved together like a comic book, from its opening credits that give you a taste of what's to come, and through to its boxed taglines that often adorn the screen as a different tale begins. Anyone who is familiar with horror comics will feel the comic book style to the whole movie.
The thing about Anthology movies is that there is always one story you don't particularly care for, what happens here is because of the weaving in and out from story to story you do not get that feeling of monotony that often arises from less compelling stories, you literally get a scene from each story before it moves on to the next. You don't lose anything in the storytelling by this consistent swapping, and the real wonder is a that while this is happening like a jigsaw puzzle you start to piece different things together.
Trick 'r' Treat is one of those movies that only a certain type of person (up to 26th of October 2009) has been able to see, made right at the start of 2008 the film has spent a year and a half touring different festivals, the result that while not achieving big blockbuster movie figures its stayed very much an exclusive film, making it that little bit special, and also helping it to already be developing somewhat a cult status. IN fact you'll be hard pushed to find anyone that's seen the movie that has anything bad to say about it. For many at this years Film Four Frightfest it was the best offering, it was certainly the most attended as for more or less the first time in the festival more or less every seat was filled, and as viewers left they were all raving about it.
Fir me personally I absolutely loved it, it took me back to a time where I loved horror comics, I loved the fact that the cutest character in the movie was the most deadly, and when I eventually figured out his big secrets just seconds before the movie revealed them, I loved him even more. The performances were excellent, Brian Cox tried his best to look like John Carpenter, Anna Paquin displays the same sort of charm that she did in True Blood and its fairly evident how she ended up going from this to the series. While Dylan Baker pretty much reprises the role of Paedophile from the movie Happiness to play a child killer that goes from being hunter to hunted. While not being a horror movie per say, it does deliver the odd scare, and sits very much in the realm of being the sort of horror movie you might allow your kids to see, with little more in the gore department than they would already see in Harry Potter.
And as far as horror movies go this is the most interesting find of the year.
The DVD has no special features and is available to purchase online for around £7 -£8.
Halloween in America is a big deal; everybody gets dressed up and the kids go out trick or treating whilst the adults go to their fancy dress parties. Therefore if someone is reluctant to enter into the spirit of the much loved holiday they better realise that they're in for a pretty strong backlash. There are four simple rules to surviving Halloween in this town:
1) Always check your candy
2) Never blow out a jack-o-lantern before midnight
3) Wear a costume
4) Hand out sweets to trick-or-treaters
These rules should be abided by at all time and when they are broken on four separate but intertwining occasions this Halloween the culprits are in for a real treat... or is it a trick?
This is a horror movie with a little bit of a twist, this film utilises four stories that at some point all intertwine with one another, much like Crash or Love Actually. This is an innovative little twist and it makes for a horror film that's full of potential however doesn't reach it's full potential by a long way. There are four stories that make this 82 minute film, excluding an introduction featuring a couple. The film was released straight to DVD which immediately sparked alarm bells to ring in my head, there are occasionally some diamonds in the rough that were released direct to DVD but as you probably know the majority of them weren't released at the cinema for a very good reason. This is one of those films.
As aforementioned, this film has something a little different about it which makes it quirky, it has bundles of potential and after reading such glowing reviews about it I was expecting it to be fantastic. Were my expectations too high or was this indeed just absolute rubbish? I'm afraid I think it was the latter, right from the start this film is a mess. As the narrative is dissimilar to anything I've seen before in the horror genre I had really high hopes and I expected the story to follow the same pattern as the narrative however each of the four segments in this film are ultimately familiar and have all been done before at some point and unfortunately other films have superiority over this mess.
The film starts with a separate brief story of a couple returning home after a Halloween party, they've decorated their garden and the woman is set on taking the decorations down as it's an urban legend that if you leave them up bad things will happen to you. There are crosses made out of wood scattered around the garden like scarecrows and covered in white sheets to look like ghosts. As she reveals each cross we hear the heightening of the music. The scene is extremely predictable and I could envision what the rest of the film would bring from this scene alone. The red herrings didn't help either, the urban legend about leaving your Halloween decorations out too long was a poor way of making the audience expect something to happen before taking them another way. It was clear that no effort or imagination had gone into the scene at all.
The four stories that follow show no credibility whatsoever and are very clichéd right from the start; firstly you have the school principal who has seemingly gone from loving kids to wanting them dead on the same night, once again we're faced with a lot of red herrings which do nothing to grab the audiences attention and even with these in place it becomes blatantly obvious how the scene is going to end. Another of the stories that stuck out for me was the story of the four girls, one of course being the 'virgin' this is of course playing on the 'rules' of horror movies explained in the Scream movies and that were first realised back in 1978 with the release of John Carpenter's Halloween. This is another of the many red herrings that are thrown into the mix and it ends up making the film ever so clichéd and because there are so many red herrings you ultimately know that they're not going to develop simply because the director uses so many of them, effectively eliminating any purpose or point to them.
The way the stories intertwine with each other is relatively clever, they're presented in a nonlinear fashion, which often works for me in films but it is the opposite of working in Trick 'R Treat. It ends up being confusing because you never know where you are and what has previously happened or hasn't happened yet. At the end of most scenes or the individual stories themselves you'll see something which will immediately inform you of what has or hasn't happened yet therefore dragging you back into the action of it all however by this time I was completely passed caring.
For me this film isn't scary at all and I'm very easily scared! This wasn't even because I was bored it was simply because there is seemingly no effort put into the individual stories at all, there's no atmosphere for the audience to latch onto, there's very little gore and when it comes down to it I didn't feel like I was watching a horror movie when I was watching this and that was the biggest disappointment.
It seems as each story passes they get more and more ridiculous and by the last story in which Brian Cox stars you just can't understand what's going on. His character is incredibly dull which is ironic as he's the best known member of the cast therefore I was expecting the strongest performance to come from him. His story does seem to have a point though which is explained to us at the end. Brian Cox's story seems to have the most relevance to the story but it's also incredibly boring, his story also involves the biggest amount of action but I found it incredibly dull and as I knew the film was drawing to a close I just couldn't wait for it to finish.
The strongest performance came from Anna Paquin who plays the virginal Laurie (in reference to virgin Laurie from Halloween) her story seemed the most generic to begin with but by the time we get the ending it takes us in a completely, and I must admit, unexpected direction. However this doesn't stop her story from being the mot ludicrous and unexplained, by this point I didn't think the film could get much worse.
The film begins quickly however after the opening sequence nothing is properly explained to the audience, I'm going to be difficult and say that I dislike being spoon fed by a film but I'd like it if a film could reach a happy medium therefore not patronising the audience but subtly giving them enough information to grasp what the narrative is about. Unfortunately the first story involving the principal is painfully unexplained which left me feeling lost and confused. This is what happens with all the stories, even at the end where everything is supposedly explained, nothing really is and you leave feeling even more confused than you did when it first started.
The most credible storyline comes from the children that are trick-or-treating around their local neighbourhood, they provide us with a lot of intertwining storylines as they run into a lot of the other central characters mostly by knocking on their doors. Their story became quite tense at one point as it involves an urban legend revolving around a group of disadvantaged kids who died in a car accident. Their story also focuses around the idea of good and bad, some of the kids bully one of the girls in their group and I'll give you three guesses as to what the outcome is.
Overall this film was a massive disappointment to me and I'd advise you to steer clear at all costs. Everything that could possibly be wrong with this film is; it's not scary, the individual plots are shamefully underdeveloped and there are no many clichés and red herrings which make the film ultimately predictable. The film seems to have quite a dry sense of humour at times, paying homage to old horror movies such as Halloween and The Evil Dead, again this gives it potential however once again this isn't used to it's full potential and the opportunity for a dark comedy is missed. It seems as though little to no effort at all was put into focusing on the four stories and instead the film relies on it's angle of being quirky because of it's anthology aspect. The audience aren't stupid and they're going to expect more than just a heavy reliance on the questionable and underused narrative. Sadly this film fails on all accounts and it's something that I'll never be watching again.
Rule number 5 of Halloween: Do not watch Trick 'R Treat! You've been warned!
The DVD is currently available from play.com for £7.99.
It's that time of the year again when we are once again bombarded with gore feasts and horror movies. 2009 is no different with the likes of Saw VI and others. Trick r Treat is one of these movies.
== the BASICS ==
TrT is in the horror genre. It is split up into 4 stories that occur on the same night, the Halloween. The director of this film is Michael Dougherty and there are many actors and actresses involved in the film (as there are 4 different stories). They all link with each other, however. The stories occur at different timeframes so one needs to be clear in their mind what actually happens during what time.
== the PLOT ==
The introduction to the movie is a short one. A couple arrived home from a Halloween parade and took off their costumes. The wife insisted on blowing out the jack-o-lantern but the husband complained that it is against tradition - the wife promptly ignored him and threw the lantern away. Later on that night as the woman started packing away the decorations on their porch she was attacked and killed. The husband was in the house and did not notice her cries for help. He only discovered the corpse after a nap when he went out to look for his wife. It was gory alright...
The first story involved the principal and his student - this time it is the headteacher who takes breaking Halloween tradition into his own hands.
The second story is about a bunch of teenagers visiting an abandoned quarry in the hope of finding a school bus carrying children with learning difficulties that apparently was crashed on purpose by a driver who the parents paid for him to put them out of their misery. It was all a plot to scare one of the girls - as expected it went wrong, horribly.
The third story told starred a 22 year old "virgin" looking for her first target. It turns out all is not what she (and her mates) seemed.
The last story which sort of tied all the stories together told of an old man who was attacked by a mysterious person. Who was the old man? And who is the perpetuator behind all these murders - you are supposed to find out after watching this film.
== what I THOUGHT == (!! SPOILERS !!))
I didn't like this film. But that's just my opinion. I simply do not agree with the principle that not agreeing with Halloween rules means the person / people should be killed. There are also lots of flaws in the movie in my opinion. For example after the girl was cruelly tricked by her "friends", her glasses were broken and yet she can still see very clearly - and she moved as though she was possessed. I read somewhere that since she was a victim she was spared - but surely the others (bullies) should not be subjected to the ultimate penalty. In another part of the movie we were told that there were some children with learning difficulties were killed when a bus driver drove them into the lake - it turned out the driver was actually the old man at the last story, and he was promptly killed by the "zombies" that were the children 30 years ago. But why only kill him now? Why not 30 / 20 / 10 years earlier? It makes no sense why everything occurs not - perhaps a sequel (which is actually already announced) will make it clearer. Finally the main villain of the film is not even a human - but a hybrid pumpkin and an alien (from Predator), so there is no twist in the tale. Or you can say there is - and that may explain similar Halloween films and why the villain is never killed.
== CONCLUSION ==
There is a reason why this movie was released straight to DVD. The directors simply believed it would not be successful. I have seen many direct-to-DVD films and many are excellent but I am afraid I would not this one as one of the successes. There is a cult following of this film I have to admit and on IMDB it rates a massive 7.4 - better than my favourite, though slightly different genre, Frequency. I am sure this movie will suit many people's taste - just not mine.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Trick r Treat is the much, much delayed horror film that was released in a few American theatres in October 2008 and finally got a wide release on DVD this month. It's a horror anthology in the vein of films like Stephen King's 1980s Creepshow series, and while it's been overrated by some rather jaded horror fans, it is nevertheless a worthwhile outing that's a fun reaction to just how awful the genre has mostly become these days.
The film revolves around four separate plot threads, and while it's difficult to go into them too much for fear of spoilers (as they intersect ultimately), here's a brief synopsis; the first story involves a rather disturbing principal (Dylan Baker), who has a sick serial killer complex, the second story is about Laurie (Anna Paquin), a young woman who is hanging out with her friends on Halloween night while being pursued by a hooded figure with strange intentions, the third story is a bunch of children who learn about a disturbing school bus massacre in the local area, and the fourth story is about a grouchy old man (Brian Cox) who is haunted by a small child that has a sack on its head.
This film has the usual jump scares and quite a few of the cliches of the genre, but it's also self-aware and smart, and one twist in particular really does pull the rug out from under the viewer. It's surely overrated, but it is a fun film with a wicked sense of humour and some fine peformances.
A welcome antidote to the rote and half-baked horrors filling our cinemas every Halloween, this sadly straight-to-DVD release is a loving throwback to the horror anthologies of the 80s such as Creepshow, with show-stealing turns from Dylan Baker and Brian Cox.
Usually when you hear a film has been released "direct to DVD" you instantly think the worse. In almost all cases of this happening it has been done for a reason, the movie is a stinker and was never going to make any money if given a cinema release. There's always an exception to the rule though, and Trick 'r Treat is one of these exceptions, and a brilliant one at that.
It's taken a very long time indeed for Trick 'r Treat to finally see the light of day, only this month being released on DVD, after first being publicly shown way back in 2007. It's a remarkable story of a film becoming such a cult classic and so highly regarded amongst horror fans, even though so little people had seen it. Director Michael Dougherty's film has been popping up at horror film festivals and comic conventions for almost two years now, drawing sell out crowds where ever it is played. For reasons which are not known Warner Bros. would not grant this film a full theatrical release, but thankfully now mainly after the positive word of mouth exposure it has been given, it has been released for all to see.
The film is set over the course of one Halloween night in a small America town, giving an anthology tale of four intertwining stories of terror, all held together by one ever present character, Sam. Named after the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, the little child like character of Sam, dressed in his pumpkin like Halloween costume, makes increasingly menacing appearances throughout the film, acting as a "friendly reminder" to those who stray from the laws of Halloween. He is a truly wonderful little character, the sort which will go down as one of the most memorable in horror cinema. At first he seems somewhat cute and subtle, but as the film goes on his true nature is revealed, along with his true face. Sam is Halloween; he represents all that it good, all that it scary about it.
There are basically four different stories going on during the film, cutting between them all and telling them in a non linear fashion. It's really cleverly done, as everything ties together seamlessly, just goes to show the true strength of the shooting script. Trick 'r Treat is only 82 minutes long, which is the absolute perfect length, and its jam packed full of content to keep you interested. I really hate it when films are really long for no reason at all; in my eyes a film should not run much over 90 minutes unless it has a good reason and is strong enough to. Anyway, this short run time makes it a perfect watch, it's not going to take up much of your time, everything is punchy and feels like you're watching only the best scenes.
As far as the ensemble cast goes they all do an excellent job, there's no acting master classes on display or anything like that (this is a horror film after all) but Anna Paquin's (True Blood, X-Men) character of Laurie is probably one of the highlights, along with Brian Cox. Everyone's pretty consistent and no one is a disappointment in any of the scenes.
Michael Dougherty has taken all the best influences from classic horror films such as Halloween and Creepshow, along with great slapstick moments from gruesome films like Evil Dead, there's even quite a strong comic book connection in there, especially during the absolutely fantastic opening credits, something which really set the high tone for the film. Trick 'r Treat is one of the most fun and originally brilliant horror films I have seen in a very long time, it's not overly violent and gory, but obviously it has its moments, it's just a really fun rollercoaster ride of a film. For me it embodies Halloween and everything it's about, I can easily see this becoming a cult favourite for years to come, something shown on TV come the end of October. Trick 'r Treat is like a good ghost story round a camp fire, please go and check it out, it's been such a long time in the making and it truly deserves all the praise it gets.
Main cast includes;
Quinn Lord as Sam/Samhain
Brian Cox as Mr. Kreeg
Dylan Baker as Steven
Dyllan Christopher as Billy Wilkins
Anna Paquin as Laurie
Leslie Bibb as Emma
Rochelle Aytes as Maria
Director: Michael Dougherty
Producer: Bryan Singer
Writer: Michael Dougherty
Run time: 82 minutes