Trick R Treat

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Released: 2007
Director: Michael Dougherty

Okay, before I say anything else, I’ll say this: I love horror anthology films. Something about the short form narrative in the genre, I think, works really well, and it’s especially fun if you can gather a strong group of films that have similar themes. This particular style can be hit or miss for a lot of people, so I’ll admit right now that I’m predisposed to like them. Some attempts at this are stronger than others, of course, but not everything can reach the level of Three Extremes or the cult classic status of Creepshow. However, a number or shorter stories has a greater chance to succeed with at least one of them, and you usually don’t have to commit to a weaker entry for very long.

Trick R Treat is an anthology of sorts, but with a number of intertwined stories. They all take place on the same night, Halloween, occur in one particular town, and follow the activities of a number of its residents: a group of children gathering jack-o-lanterns, a school principal, a group of college-aged girls, a young married couple. In each of these stories, something is not quite as it seems, and as the night wears on, things start to get more out of control for each of the characters highlighted. One unusual and ambiguous figure seems especially connected to the events, always just out of sight as most of the stories unfold, and often witnessing the gruesome consequences.

Rather than a straightforward anthology, Trick R Treat attempts to interweave the stories into one fragmented narrative, making it into something like a bloodier Love Actually. This is an idea that could fail spectacularly, but it pulled it off relatively well. There are a lot of characters, but never so many that you can’t keep track of them, and you can reasonably believe that this is a small town where talk travels, and nothing is kept secret for too long.

The strongest story, for me, was the one that followed the children. It begins as they finish up their trick or treating, during which they collect a number of jack o’lanterns from the houses they stop at. Once this task is completed, they pick up another girl who seems to be a bit of a misfit in the group, and travel to the site of a fatal bus crash rumored to occur many years ago, and use the jack o’lanterns as a ritual. This, of course, turns out to be a cruel prank, and then things start to escalate. The children’s personalities were mostly believable, with most of them expressing a bit of inner dilemma and remorse at their own bullying. The bullied girl was able to grab the audience’s sympathy, and it was difficult to blame her for leaving her tormentors to their fate in the end.

The weakest, unfortunately, was one of the stories I think should have been much more key. The story that revolved around Sam, the film’s mysterious central figure, fell a little flat. Sam’s attack on the old recluse, while ultimately making sense in context (when the identity of the man is revealed), still feels somewhat off. His presence was far creepier as a supernatural figure, so his mask and foreboding appearance was fun. He turned from a passive figure to a very aggressive one, and it took me out of the film for a moment. And ultimately, unmasking him was also a misstep, as I found his “real” face to look a bit silly.

Ultimately, I think the stories managed to be surprisingly cohesive. Each entry seemed to serve a purpose, either initiating or resolving a plot point from another story in the collection. It isn’t the best anthology film I’ve ever seen, but it is a strong one, with a fun attitude and its own cheeky sense of humor.

Rating: 3 out of 5. Very entertaining bit of fluff, if you want a good film to throw on for a horror night with friends.
Scariness Level: There’s a few decent chills there, though nothing that’s going to stay with you long after the movie ends.

Violence Level: Medium. There’s a decent amount of blood and violence, almost every story includes someone meeting their end by rather brutal means.

Bechdel Test: There’s a number of women, and they do occasionally have exchanges that aren’t about men. It’s not passing with flying colors, but it is a pass.

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Posted on February 26, 2015, in Films and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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