Welcome to the Soothsayer’s Weird Wednesday. I’m not the Soothsayer. For the month of November, I will be filling in on Wednesdays to allow our host to get that sleep he never gets and to bring you a different flavor of review. I’ll be taking a look into my own crystal ball to bring you my version of the truth, tying it into either a special say that arrives that week or a movie release on the Friday. Thanks for reading and enjoy.
I first heard of the movie TRICK ‘R TREAT back in 2007 when I saw the trailer on the DVD for Zac Snyder’s 300. Being a horror fan as well as Halloween enthusiast I was intrigued from the get go. The trailer was dark, atmospheric and, best of all, fun. It was everything you could hope for in a Halloween trailer. Then the movie stalled.
Warner Bros. wasn’t sure what to do with TRICK ‘R TREAT. It was a small movie from an unknown director, which has never really been that big a problem for horror films, but it wasn’t a gore fest. Back in 2007 the SAW franchise was in its heyday and the gore-porn genre was going strong with flicks like HOSTEL and HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES making waves. The studio didn’t see their little film competing against the splatter films.
Then something interesting happened – the internet caught TRICK ‘R TREAT up in its collective arms and nurtured it. Horror movie blogs wouldn’t stop talking about it, message boards were filled with inquiries regarding its release and horror conventions fed the growing buzz. Sometimes the buzz helps and in October of 2009, two years after it was finished, TRICK ‘R TREAT was released on DVD – just in time for Halloween.
The movie itself is an homage to Halloween (the day, not the movie) and comes in the anthology mold of horror movies like CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It has five interwoven stories that build up the Halloween feelings of fun, fear and frenzy.
The first story draws us in with a little bit of ancient Halloween legend. Legend tells us that it’s bad luck to blow out the jack-o’-lantern candle before Halloween night has ended and when Emma (played by Leslie Bibb) ignores Henry’s (Tahmoh Penikett) warning she is reprimanded swiftly and brutally by a child-sized murderer. As an audience we know now that Halloween has rules that are not meant to be broken.
The second story moves from ancient legend to urban legend and sees a principal (Dylan Baker) and one of his students (Brett Kelly of Bad Santa fame) play out that classic warning of “wait until you get home and your parents have checked your candy for razor blades.” Once again, a rule gets broken and the repercussions are bloody.
The third story takes us into the world we are watching by giving us the typical small-town legend. In this case that of a busload of special needs children who drowned on Halloween. A group of young teens decides to visit their watery grave for some Halloween fun and it ends disastrously for the majority. Here we see the world of legends and the rules inherent to them and the world of the movie start to combine.
The fourth story brings us even further into the world by showing us some young adults having a Halloween Party.
Here the warning is, as only Halloween can tell, you can never tell who or what is hiding behind a mask.
The fifth, and final, story tells of an old man (Brian Cox) who ignores Halloween and shuts himself away from the festivities of the night. It’s a return to the ancient legend portion of the movie by invoking the most well known rule of Halloween (and the film’s title): Trick or treat. When the man doesn’t offer treats he receives a trick.
There is a small conclusion to the film that blends all five stories into one moment and you realize that the film is meant to showcase Halloween legends, all of them from ancient to urban to local and even to the scary stories everyone tells on Halloween night. It isn’t major to the movie but definitely worth it for a fan of the holiday.
TRICK ‘R TREAT is already something of a cult classic but it is only going to grow. This is a movie that doesn’t apologize for loving Halloween but warns the world that they, too, should love it or at the very least respect it.
4 out of 5