Review: ‘Trick ‘r Treat’

It’s true… a Halloween movie that’s actually about Halloween.

Welcome to Warren Valley, Ohio, one of those sleepy little Northeast towns that really gets into All Hallow’s Eve. Not everyone is into the organized costume-wearing nighttime festivities, however. A housewife can barely tolerate her husband’s obsession with Halloween. A young woman dressed in a red hood and cape worries about finding the right guy on her first time out. A mild-mannered high school principle deals with his family and neighbor while concealing his special obsession. A group of teens decide to honor the site of a grizzly mass killing. And a bitter old man learns what can happen when you ignore a very simple set of traditional rules. Happy Halloween!

Dylan Baker, Tahmoh Penikett, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, and Leslie Bibb are only a few of the actors involved with this anthology film. Unlike similar films like Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat intertwines its stories in a clever way that lets you know that this is all going on in the same place on the same night. The editing to tie everything together is so tight, however, that it makes the relatively short film feel shorter still. Perhaps one more story could have padded out the film, but where filmmakers could have placed it is anyone’s guess.

What’s bizarre is how long this film reportedly sat on a shelf… for almost two years, in fact. Centered around the sack-covered head of little Sam, a trick or treater who seems to embody the spirit of Halloween itself, word of mouth from the few people introduced to this little gem convinced the studio to finally give it a short release and a decent DVD treatment. Any fan of the holiday itself or the horror genre in general will find plenty to love about this film, including performances by people who now, years later, have been or are currently stars in similar genres (Anna Paquin in HBO’s “True Blood” anyone?)

Full of atmosphere, jack-o-lanterns, fun facts and yes, plenty of blood, Trick ‘r Treat is exactly the film horror aficionados hope to see in theaters every October. Not to give anything away, but the response to getting the film off the shelf and into the hands of fans has certainly gotten the studio’s attention. Word of an actual sequel is starting to be heard, and writer/director Michael Dougherty has reportedly said he has plenty more adventures in mind for little Sam. Until then, be sure to keep your jack-o-lanterns lit throughout the night…

(a three skull recommendation out of four)


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