Aka – Trick or Treat
There aren’t many “classic” Halloween films. You know, ones that are set on Halloween and have tons of replay value. Christmas has a bunch, Halloween has …. Halloween. And don’t say “Ernest Scared Stupid”, that’s just not going to cut it. Sure there are many enjoyable Halloween-set films (and horror films) but it’s been awhile since a true classic came out and demanded yearly viewings on or around Halloween. Thankfully, this is one of those films.
“Trick ‘r Treat” combines two of my favourite things, Halloween and Anthology Horror films. The movie contains several stories intertwining, all taking place on Halloween night. There’s a mysterious little creature named Sam anchoring the stories which revolve around mentally challenged zombie children, werewolves, murderous fathers, an old man with a secret, a man who loves Halloween and his wife who despises it and a mysterious cloaked vampire looking to suck the fun out of the evening. The stories connect cleverly and it never feels forced or confusing.
The two biggest names in the cast are True Blood’s (and Oscar winner) Anna Paquin and veteran actor Brian Cox (X2, Braveheart, Manhunter). Leslie Bibb (Iron Man, Talladega Nights, Midnight Meat Train) is good as the bitchy Halloween hating wife, and really everyone in the cast does an excellent job. I’m sure it was a blast to make it, and it really comes through on screen.
Unfortunately (for all of us) this never received a theatrical release, and that’s a real shame. The production values are high, the acting is good, the stories are interesting and well crafted. I’d heard talk of an extended directors cut being released at one point, but 5 years on it still hasn’t materialized. In 2008 a sequel was announced (which also hasn’t materialized), so perhaps we’ll see an extended cut then. At 82 minutes though it’s quite the thrill ride.
For me, the best story is the mentally challenged zombie kids (a phrase I never thought I’d see myself typing). The flashback aspect is very well filmed, and there’s a real sadness to it all. The effects are extremely …. effective. The idea of the old quarry (and the horror anthology I guess) reminded me of “Creepshow” (The Crate) and that’s never a bad movie to conjure up.
The use of colour is very impressive throughout and really pops out of the screen (not literally, thank god). Whether its the jack-o-lanterns, the misty watery school bus or the films many costumes, it all lends itself well to the film and the Halloween esthetic it sets out to convey. It was filmed in BC and the scenery certainly reflects its beauty and adds another layer to this gem of a film.
The best thing I can say about this film is that it manages to avoid the trap that 90% of anthologies fall into – the boring story. Most always have that (at least) one story that doesn’t live up to the rest of the film. This is generally juxtaposed with that one great story it also has, making the bad story seem even worse. While I do think the schoolchildren story was the best, none of the other stories let the film down, and that’s quite a feat in its own right.
If you have yet to see this film, on Halloween or not, I urge you to check it out. It’s an extremely fun and well made horror anthology, an very well reviewed one at that. Finally we have another Halloween classic to trudge out year after year. Hear’s hoping the sequel (if it ever materializes) doesn’t miss the lofty mark set by its predecessor.