Posted on: September 26th, 2009 [REVIEW] Trick ‘r Treat
Thought it was hard running a film-blog and getting noticed? Well, you should try doing it from Calgary, Alberta, far from the pulse of the entertainment industry. No press screenings. No set-visits. Very little studio reach out. Every year though, there is that one glimmer of hope that I’ll be privy to catching one of the “buzz-films” on the festival circuit or catching an early screener during the Calgary International Film Festival. Though years before haven’t proven fruitful for GKS (last year’s movie haul was merely an early screening of Zack & Miri Make A Porno), this year’s festival lineup has me taking in three talked about little movies. The first of which I thoroughly enjoyed late last night, the loudly praised horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat, written and directed by Michael Dougherty and produced by Bryan Singer.
The journey of Trick ‘r Treat to audiences hasn’t been a smooth one, despite the film’s obvious quality. According to IMDB, the film was originally set for release on October of 2007, but Warner Bros. Held off on the release (rumors why include not wanting to compete with Saw IV, or the fact that the last Michael Dougherty/Bryan Singer film, Superman Returns, performed less than desirable at the box office). Two years later and the film never received a wide theatrical release, though from December 2007 until now Trick ‘r Treat has screened at many well-known festival circuits including Butt-Numb-A-Thon (’07), Screamfest (’08), San Deigo Comic-Con (’09), After Dark Film Festival (’09), Fantastic Fest (’09), and last night here in Calgary.
The one constant through all of these screenings: audiences adore this film. And rightfully so, Trick ‘r Treat has solidified itself as a film I will watch every October, and I’m definitely not alone there (check out the film’s 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
A creepy, darkly comic celebration of the scariest night of the year from producer BRYAN SINGER (director of X-Men and Superman Returns) and writer-director MICHAEL DOUGHERTY(co-scripter of X2 and Superman Returns). Trick ‘r Treat takes the Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt approach to nefarious new depths with four interwoven tales set on Halloween night: a high school principal (DYLAN BAKER) moonlights as a vicious serial killer; the quest of a young virgin (ANNA PAQUIN) for that special someone takes a gruesome turn; a group of teens carries out a cruel prank with disastrous consequences; and a cantankerous old man (BRIAN COX) battles a mischievous trick-or-treating demon.
Trick ‘r Treat is a horror anthology with intertwining characters and time-lines. In essence, it is four short stories, each one it’s own scary Halloween tale, though unlike other anthology films like Creepshow or Twilight Zone: The Movie, there are no hard cuts – the films flows from segment to segment in a linear albeit time-shifting way. The underlying theme of the film is that you shouldn’t break the rules of Halloween; always wear a costume, hand out candy, don’t blow out a jack-o’-lantern, and always check your candy. These four rules are taught by the eerie bag-headed child Sam, who appears in every segment and will no doubt steal your horror-loving heart.
I tweeted after the screening late last night that Trick ‘r Treat is easily the best Halloween movie in recent years, and I stand by just that. Trick ‘r Treat is a damn good horror film – borrowing tones and paying homage to the ol’ scare-fests of old – but it is more importantly a seasonal celebration. Trick ‘r Treat has done for Halloween what the Griswolds did for Christmas with Christmas Vacation. I’m not saying that Trick ‘r Treat is an all out comedy – it is definitely a funny movie – but rather it is a timeless, instant classic. If you love Halloween, you must see this and re-watch it year after year.
The film is masterfully written; you can tell that this was a labor of love for writer/director Michael Dougherty. Not only is it apparent that he’s a fan of the genre, but he gets the genre and how to craft a story that those fans will click with right away. The stories themselves are like a fresh coat of paint on classic campfire horror; traditions and techniques that have been run into the ground by countless numbers of stale horror films over the years have now been invigorated and sculpted into a wonderful blend of modern-retro horror. The dialogue nails every mark and the performances here are for he ages. Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2, Happiness), the school principal with homicidal tendencies, truly is the star of the film as is the great Brian Cox (X2) as Mr. Kreeg, the curmudgeonly old-man without a fondness for all hallow’s eve.
Those of you who missed a screening of Trick ‘r Treat in your town (if there was one), fear not, for the film gets its wide release on October 6th when it hits DVD and Blu-ray. I really encourage you to pick this one up and add it to the top of your list of Halloween viewing – like I said before, this will no doubt end up a seasonal favorite for all of you horror fans.
Stay tuned for a full review of the blu-ray, which according to Michael Dougherty himself will be full of special features.
3 Responses to “[REVIEW] Trick ‘r Treat”
Dale Pidlisny Says:
September 26th, 2009 at 9:24 pm
Completely agree on all fronts, I had a great time watching this and I now understand the point you made about it being like National Lampoon’s Christmas. It absolutely is a movie about the holiday and not the monster of the week which is what I loved about it.
And that the 4 mini stories were always weaving through one another made it really interesting. The only thing I found odd was that the movie seemed to take its name from the 50’s retro style black & white informational film played at the beginning, then the rest of the movie used the comic book transitions to bookend the film and get from time line to time line. The comic style was great, but I think the school room black and white PSA would have worked better considering the films throw back title ( with the ‘r ) and the 4 rules theme.
This movie has definitely earned an annual spot beside Charlie Brown in this house.
Aaron Thompson Says:
October 1st, 2009 at 12:48 pm
Count me in, fellas. I agree with both Ryan and Dale’s sentiments. Particularly the idea that this movie deserves to be watched each and every Halloween (I can’t wait to get it on DVD so I can honour that). I also agree with Dale in that there were some stylistic inconsistencies, although they really didn’t hinder the experience, just that upon further reflection they could have been addressed.
I also like the fact that this movie can be for anybody, you don’t have to be a well-seasoned horror hound to appreciate what happens on screen, and the fright factor is not nearly high enough to exclude the more timid terror tots (girlfriends) (alliteration).
[REVIEW] Daybreakers « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more Says:
October 4th, 2009 at 3:11 pm
[...] Calgary International Film Festival has come to a close. I’ve seen some great films such as Trick r’ Treat and Best Worst Movie, and last night’s screening was no different with the upcoming vampire [...]