This is probably going to be a must-watch on Halloween for a lot of people. Trick ‘r Treat weaves together four distinct stories that all come together throughout the entire movie at different parts. Sometimes they are separate, sometimes parallel, and other times are interlocked and all become one. It is a creative plot even though the movie mainly succeeds on screams and gushing blood. Dylan Baker plays a principal who is also a serial killer of children in his spare time, even teaching his young son how to carve a Jack o’Lantern out of a former student’s head. In his spare time, he role-plays as a vampire who bites people to the point where they expire from blood loss. Brian Cox is his next-door alcoholic neighbor who hates Halloween and becomes terrorized by a part-demon, part-pumpkin, part-alien creature in the ending (some people have asserted this character is the embodiment of the holiday itself). It is here we gain a little insight into why such murders are occurring from all combined stories. The other two major sections include a group of werewolves disguised as beautiful young women having a party in the woods and a few young trick-or-treaters who go to a deserted rock quarry to investigate if an old local urban legend is actually true. The legend concerns a decades-old tragedy where a bus driver of disturbed children from a special school took money from their parents to kill them all at the quarry because they were too bothersome and embarrassing to them. At every turn, someone is getting killed in a horrific way.
Trick ‘r Treat has a lot of underlying humor, though in a sick and sadistic manner. It is not put on, and is absolutely essential in the story’s telling. There are so many children being killed in violent ways; without the humor, the movie would have been way too heavy and people’s stomachs would have churned. That element single-handedly saved the production. In a world where movies such as Saw expand upon Hollywood’s lust for on-screen blood, not many dare to actually depict kids getting so brutally murdered and mistreated. Because of this, there is a strange and different aura surrounding the movie which makes it beyond compare. I imagine the director accomplished what he set out to do for that simple fact.
The special effects are good and the acting by Baker is quirky to the point of nausea. It was good seeing Brian Cox (the first Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter– 1986) in this movie, and I thought his role was the best of the lot. Trick ‘r Treat is relentless from beginning to end. The foot never comes off the gas, and ends at a mere 82 minutes of running time. Though there is always so much going on due to the weaving of stories and characters in and out, you will never be confused, and the short timing of this film assures that it never drags on or becomes boring. It is perfect for a Halloween night viewing. Also starring Anna Paquin, Rochelle Aytes, and Quinn Lord. Directed by Michael Dougherty.
7.5 out of 10.
More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.