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Masterful Halloween classic-in-the-making.

  • Oct 19, 2011
**** out of ****

Halloween movies are Halloween movies because they care about the popular holiday and choose to often exploit the horrors that we celebrate annually at the end of each October, and without noticing it. You've got your classic holiday flicks such as "Halloween"; then you've got your "classics-in-the-making", and oh, there are plenty of them. "Trick 'r Treat" is but one such film; a hilarious, bold, charmingly grotesque little horror flick that unfortunately met a fate not quite suited for it; the dreaded "direct-to-video" release. For some reason, this masterpiece didn't make it to theaters, and after seeing it a few times - as I have - I can certainly see why. Perhaps it wasn't the film's morbid sense of humor that turned off the audiences that first screened it; but rather the underlying themes. "Trick 'r Treat" is not a film that hates the holiday that it's about, but it is somewhat daring, and chooses to explore a side of it that few films care to. It crosses a line, but stays within enough boundaries so that it doesn't come off as offensive. Personally, I loved the film, and for Halloween's sake, I always will. I'll watch it every year, on that very day. There's truly no better way to celebrate a good holiday then with a good movie; and this one's a sure keeper.

So it's Halloween. Everyone is roaming the streets in some fairly complex and admirably spooky costumes. Excitement, anticipation, and late-night lust are in the air. As long as the story takes a turn for the paranormal and the supernatural at some point, then it's clear that just about anything can happen. Most times, it will. There are four short stories told here; along with an opening and a concluding chapter, making "Trick 'r Treat" an anthology film. Each story shares a common theme, in a sense, and each one also has the film's mascot, Sam, making an appearance. He shows up in some strange, random, and unpleasant places; but for a guy so ominous, he's actually pretty cute. Look up a picture of him sometime. You'll see what I mean.

The first story: The Principal. We follow Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), a man with dark secrets and shadowy urges. He is the principal of the town in which he lives, meaning that just about every trick-or-treater will know his house and who lives within it when they arrive on his doorstep, bags open. But he doesn't care. This night is about fulfilling his deepest desires; beginning with the murder of a young boy (that blonde kid from "Bad Santa"). There are some good chuckles to be found when Mr. Wilkins is attempting to bury the corpse in his yard as his own little boy constantly yells at him from the window, and his grouchy neighbor complains about a peculiar "stench" that comes from over the fence. We think Wilkins a cruel, sadistic man; but by the end, we learn just how much of a loving father he is. Yet still, his night is far from over.

The second story: The School Bus Massacre Revisited. This is probably the part that upset people the most. It centers on a group of kids who are collecting jack-o-lanterns for what they refer to as a "charitable cause", but we soon learn otherwise. They grab the "freak" of their age-group, who has carved a mass number of pumpkins herself, and they head to an abandoned rock quarry, where a terrible thing happened some years ago. A girl in the group tells the story as it is; a bus driver intentionally took a bus full of mentally deficient children to the quarry to do something unspeakable, but his plans were soon foiled when one of the kids got loose and drove the vehicle straight off the cliff and into the water. Both the kids and the driver were never heard from again. So we think. Knowing this, the kids decide to pull a prank on the "freak" character that they have dragged along with them, although all goes wrong, and it ends in a bloody mess. I can't tell you much more than that.

Now this is a good one: The "Surprise Party". A woman, her sister, and their two friends head to a Halloween party deep in the forest, eventually parting ways so that the single woman can find herself a date. She walks, and walks, and walks; never quite finding the right guy, but certainly pondering it. She eventually decides to call it quits and head to the party alone, but she is stopped and put in a dangerous situation, which eventually works out for her benefit, and reveals the true nature of this "party".

The final story is called Meet Sam. Sam, as I said, is the film's mascot. If you ever wondered what the "Spirit of Halloween" looked like, well, then look no further, because Sam is certainly what I would think to be such a being. His sights are set on many people throughout the film, and he seems to act as a reminder to those who break Halloween traditions and such. He doesn't take the mistreating of his favorite holiday very well; not very well at all. So when he becomes fixated on Principle Wilkin's grouchy neighbor (Brian Cox), things get messy and violent quickly. He invades the poor old man's house and teaches him a lesson about respecting Halloween...the hard way.

Here's a film that one could watch over-and-over again and never get bored. It does the right thing, thus never trying to get scares, but more-so campy and satirical laughs. And as far as that goes, it got a pretty good amount out of me. I suppose you have to connect with the film's dark - very dark - sense of humor in order to elicit the sort of response that it's trying to get out of the audience, but let me tell you: you're no better than that grumpy old man if you don't find scenes including death-by-lollipop or people literally made of pumpkins to be at least mildly amusing. And you don't want to be him, now do you?

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November 03, 2011
Definitely agree. One of the best original horror films I've seen in ages. Really good stuff.
October 20, 2011
I liked this one myself quite a bit. Great fable-horror story that pays tribute to the festivities.
More Trick 'r Treat reviews
review by . October 07, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
     The Festivities of All Hallows Eve have originated from ancient times and these days, it just so happens that it is now a yearly tradition when people can dress up in costumes, kids can have lots of candy and watch a marathon of horror movies on TV. Halloween can be so cool, and Michael Dougherty adapts his own short story "Season's Greetings" in “TRICK R TREAT”; it is the best movie to pay homage to Halloween. The film is the medicine for all …
review by . July 18, 2010
       Trick ‘R Treat is the ultimate Halloween film. This film has all those elements that make it that perfect film to catch on hallows eve. Directed by Michael Dougherty, the film is based on his short film Seasons Greetings. When I first watched his short film, it left me wanting more…   About the film, the film is an anthology of four Halloween stories. What makes the film so dark and sweet is the way they are intertwined.  There is a certain …
review by . October 22, 2009
Sadly, this film got stuck in distribution hell as no one would pick it up for a theatrical release. Now, a year later and after having played very well at festivals, the film is out on DVD.      Trick 'r Treat is a horror anthology but unlike a lot of other anthologies, it's structured differently. Instead of returning to a central place between each new segment, the stories are interwoven as characters move about the town on Halloween; stars of one story appear briefly in others …
review by . May 19, 2009
Will Trick 'R Treat Ever See The Light Of Day?
Poison, Drowning, Claw, Or Knife. So Many Ways To Take A Life.      Five interwoven stories that occur on the same block, on the same night. A couple finds what happens when they blow a jack o' lantern out before midnight, a high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer, a college virgin might have met the right guy for her, a group of mean teens play a prank that they take too far, and a hermit is visited by a special trick or treater.      It …
Quick Tip by . October 17, 2009
Perhaps one of the best (if not the greatest) horror flick ever made about Halloween. This would make John Carpenter & others proud.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Trick 'r Treat is a 2008 horror film. It was written and directed by Michael Dougherty and based on his short film Season's Greetings. Originally slated for an October 5, 2007 release, it was announced in September 2007 that the film had been pushed back. Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures released the film direct to DVD on October 6, 2009 in the US & Canada, October 26 in the UK and October 28 in Australia. However, it first appeared on 7th October 2008 in Spain, during the SITGES International Film Festival of Catalonia (Sitges Film Festival).
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Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure
Release Date: October 5, 2007
MPAA Rating: R

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