Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trick R Treat (2007/2009)

Oh Trick R Treat, you have filled me with such glee that this girl just doesn't know what to do with her self. See, Dears, Darlings, and Fellow Spooky-Dos, Halloween is just around the corner. The air is starting to cool in anticipation of Autumn, and the approaching holiday has almost constantly been on my mind. Whether its been on account of Target getting in its lovely ladies Halloween shirts, or because I've been diligently planning my costume I am in a constant state of anticipation these days.

And let me tell you, this movie was really the best way to kick off the most wonderful time of year that I could possibly ask for.

Which of course, thrills me to no end, especially since I had been looking forward to this film for quite sometime. But first its 2007 theatrical release got pushed back, and then it got further debunked in 2009 as a direct to DVD that I only recently managed to get my hands on. Trust me my lovelies, I have been kicking myself for not going to the screening of it at Comic Con a couple years back a LOT.

You would think with that level of anticipation that this film would fall flat, because, let's be fair, what ever truly lives up to the hype that we assign something in our minds? With the exception of the Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie blizzard and Disneyland's seasonal "Nightmare before Christmas" revamp of the Haunted mansion, pretty much nothing ever does.

But I have a third thing to add to that list now kids, and that is Trick R Treat.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, before I just completely lose myself in babbling about how much I loved this movie I should give you a bit of an idea about what its about.

This movie had me hooked from the get-go, the title sequence is one of the most awesome I have seen in a movie in years. Seriously if it doesn't make you bounce in your seat with excitement than.... well, you just have no love of the world. I mean for Goddsake, its presented in comic format, introducing you briefly to the charecters you will meet, the rules of Halloween, and generally sets you up for the lore of the film exquisitely.

What follows is four different stories that are interwoven into one all encompassing ones. I've seen this done in movies before, and usually it requires that the movie be broken into chapters, with titles announcing the name of each of these chapters. Trick R Treat, however, overlaps and blends all of them in such an intricate and seamless fashion that I am absolutely dumbfounded that this work of art was Michael Dougherty's directorial debut, because he handles it better than many veterans.

At the center of these stories is the character "Sam", cleverly named after Samhain, or the Pagan Halloween celebration. He appears in each tale and is the embodiment not only of the holiday, but of the danger and fear associated with it, that lead to many of the practices we still use today. The use of Jack 'o lanterns, the dressing in costumes, etc. He's also adorable, in a really, weird, disquieting way. And not just because he reminds me a bit of a demented Sack Person from Little Big Planet.

The first of the stories that we are introduced to, revolves around Principal Steven Wilkins (played by Dylan Baker of Fido and Hide and Seek) who plays a thoroughly disgruntled man who firmly believes in upholding the age-old traditions of Halloween, as well as a few dark ones of his own. Although, like most of the characters, he makes appearances in the other stories as well. He's throughly creepy, but in a fun way, because he's also intensely awkward and neurotic, and there was one instance in the movie I had a definite "YEAH! ALL RIGHT!" moment for him.

Next we're introduced to a group of trick or treaters, headed by Macy (Britt McKillip, who I know and love as Reggie Lass in Dead like me). They are gathering Jack 'O Lanterns in a grocery cart en route to a rock quarry. Along the way they stop at the house of Rhonda, who Macy introduces as "The Idiot Savant". I warmed immediately to Rhonda; she's completely awkward, obsessed with Halloween, artistic, oh, and she made her cute little Witch costume herself.

I won't lie, I saw a little bit of a Young Spooky Pie in her, and felt instantly protective. We then learn that the pumpkins have been gathered as an "offering to the dead". Macy relays the tale of how a group of children were killed when a bus crashed into the lake nestled in ravine. And then tells the other children that that are going down to place the pumpkins at the water's edge, one for each child who was killed in the accident. As to be expected, this is when things go wrong.

Our next tale introduces us to Laurie (a nod, perhaps, to another great heroine of this holiday?), who, by the way, is played by Anna Paquin. Which, I won't lie, was one of the driving forces to see this film to begin with. I'll let you in on a secret my lovelies, but I do have the teeniest bit of a girl crush on Miss Paquin, largely because of her portrayal of True Blood's Sookie Stackhouse.


Laurie is out with her sister and friends, who are all dressed as over-sexed version of fairy tale characters. With the exception of Laurie, who appears practically demure in her Red Riding Hood costume, WHICH I WANT, by the way. There is, apparently, a tradition every year with these girls. They all go out to a big bonfire party in the woods, and each one has to find herself a date to bring to said party.

The other girls tease Laurie about her sexual innocence, her sister claiming that she has "22 year old virgin" carved on her forehead. Laurie is further ostracized as the other girls find boys and pair off with relative ease. They leave Laurie to fend for herself, and head off to the party with their respective dates with a patronizing pat on her cheek and an instruction to come meet them once she finds a man.

After she is abandoned, Laurie is left wandering through the woods on her own, directly paralleling the Fairy Tale she is dressed as. With the viewer just waiting for the inevitable Big Bad Wolf to spring at her from the shadows.

The last of the stories tells the tale of a grumpy old shut in, called Mr. Kreeg. He hates Halloween, he has his TV and his dog, the rest of the world can go to Hell for all he cares. He is also, quite cleverly, the neighbor of Principal Wilkins, and we see him briefly in the first story, bellowing through the fence at the slightly weaselly Principal.

Okay, okay, I felt a little biased going into this tale. I automatically love grouchy old men; especially when they have a small dog and watch the television with a rifle. They remind me of my own, dear, Grandpappy Pie. And Spooky loves her Grandpappy.

Sorry, got a bit side-tracked there, I'd tell you that it won't happen again but I respect you too much to lie to you like that.

Anyway, the other key player in this last tale of woe is dear little Sam, the sack boy who could. He is, apparently, intent on punishing Mr. Kreeg for his unwillingness to give Halloween the respect it deserves. To be fair, when Principal Wilkins wished him a Happy Halloween earlier in the film, Kreeg responded with "SCREW YOU" (and with that, he won my heart). This little story further establishes Sam as the spirit of Halloween, or at least the one responsible for enforcing the rules of Halloween.

Through that, and the rather poetic concluding scene we are re-affirmed with the fear that we all grew up with. On one hand, Halloween is the exciting, fun time of year when we all get to dress up and be given heaping bagfuls of diabetes. On the other hand, as a child, you always could feel that there was something just a bit dark lurking around corners, the sort of thing that could only be possible on that one night of the year.

And that leads us to one of the major reasons I have fallen so head over heels in love with Trick R Treat. It so perfectly encompasses the feeling of Halloween I had as a child, a feeling that you don't quite get any more as an adult. When you lose some of the fear associated with the holiday, you lose some of the fun too. So Trick R Treat reminding you that the fire in the Jack 'O Lantern will keep you safe so long as it stays lit, and that you wear the costumes to blend in with the spirits who they won't get you, even to check your candy for razor blades; well, it just filled me with nostalgia.

The storytelling is largely responsible for this, the conversations and people seem real. When they have conversations you don't sit there saying "What? Nobody talks like that!". And while you don't like all the characters, and you aren't supposed to, you find at least a few that you latch onto and care about. Much like the title sequence set you up for, it reads like a comic. Which is AWESOME.

Now, I've talked about the storytelling and the general feeling, so I feel it only fair to now talk about the final element that made this movie so wonderful. The Cinematography is utterly breath taking. Putting aside that this is a horror film, it is absolutely beautiful to look at. The color pallet, the editing, the subtle way certain shots are framed. My goodness, it damn near gave me the vapors.

So, Essentially, if the holiday were a film, it would, hands down, be Trick R Treat; fun and creepy, with an undercurrent of candy-like sweetness to pull it all together. If you want to watch something to get you in the mood for some good old Halloweening, Trick R Treat is the cure for what ails you kiddies.


  1. I, too, did not think this could be THAT good like everybody else was saying, but I was wrong! Love, love, love this movie especially the story with the principal. Laughed my butt off the whole time. And the twist in the story with Anna Paquin kind of ruled. Trick R Treat will def be a movie I must watch every Halloween!

  2. What a great post about what an incredible movie! Love it. Can you believe that this masterpiece got delayed for two whole years? And then when it finally did get released, it was only straight to DVD? Usually these signs mean a bad movie, but nothing could be further from the truth! I hope Sam visits whoever is responsible for this disrespect and gives them what they deserve. I will watch this movie every Halloween, along with Nightmare Before Christmas. There is nothing better to get you in the Halloween spirit!