“Trick ‘r Treat” is one of those movies that only comes around once in a blue moon. It’s the third installment of Halloween Week (Yea, I know I’m a little late on these reviews), and it’s a fun little flick that knows what it is and stays true to itself. Adapted from a graphic novel, “Trick ‘r Treat” follows several intertwined storylines to give us one great Halloween movie. Set on that fateful, frightful night, we get a tour de force of everything Halloween: Sexy girls, little kids pulling pranks, crazy old men, werewolves, zombies, serial killers… the list goes on and on. It’s not overly creepy, but the atmosphere is spot on. There’s plenty of gore, plenty of attractive women, a couple of fun, Halloween-centric stories and a creepy little demon to tie everything together. It seems like my M.O., but “Trick ‘r Treat” is best enjoyed with a bunch of friends and a big bowl of candy while your jack-o-lanterns glow in the windows.
My favorite quality of this movie is it’s timelessness. We assume it’s set today because everyone dresses modern, but in reality it could be any time. There are no cell phones, no computer, barely even any cars. The only semblance of technology we come across is the TV crew, and we don’t even see their equipment. This is a pleasant break from most movies in general, as time period is usually important to plot. In fact, it is usually a driving force. “Trick ‘r Treat” differs from the classic movie formula in that it is not one developed story, and I think it would be hard to even label it as a group of stories. What it is a bunch of legends, warnings, old wives tales if you will, with characters and settings put in. The age old classic is the concept of always checking your candy on Halloween. This isn’t really a single story that has changed itself over the years; it’s an idea that every parent and school implements in their own way. In “Trick ‘r Treat”, the creators decided to have a psychotic principal poison the candy he gives to a troublemaking kid. There is also the story of a person getting murdered and crying for help amongst a Halloween parade of people dressed like the dead. These are urban legends that manifest themselves everywhere and in every way, but are strung together here stunningly to create an all encompassing Halloween tale.
Visual effects in the movie were definitely up to par. There’s nothing too fancy, which stays true to it’s blue collar roots, but with the excellent set design and costuming it’s still fun to look at. I’ve mentioned other movies that get the Halloween-on-Mainstreet vibe down pretty well, and “Trick ‘r Treat” should not be forgotten among them. Along with the plethora of jack-o-lanterns, the creature and gore effects are worth recognition. Blood looks like blood (and we sure get a lot of it), the chocolate puke makes you want to hurl yourself, and the werewolf transformation scene is done amazingly. Lacking (in a good way) from this movie are any noticeable CG effects, which only adds to the timeless feel I discussed earlier. The ghouls and even the little demon are shown to us in a fun, believable way, even if the little sack head seems a tad corny at the end.
While it’s not A list by any stretch of the imagination, the acting in the movie is really quite good. Anna Paquin (Laurie) should be somewhat of a household name and Dylan Baker (Principal Wilkins) will forever be a face without a name, the rest of the cast is a relatively unknown bunch of Canadians. Before I go any further, to Mr. Baker I mean no disrespect, you are a great actor, I just can’t place what else you’ve been in. Back to the rest of the cast, the Canadians. They must be doing something right up in BC, because these kids are really worth their chops, and aren’t bad to look at either. Our neighbors up north have really put out some amazing talent lately, and I think some of the shows they’re producing could give Hollywood a run for their money if the could somehow convince networks to pick them up. The young talent is what’s really impressive. I think Britt McKillip (Macy) and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Schrader) are the stand out characters in the whole movie. Bilodeau has graced the Disney Channel screen before, and McKillip is mainly in the voice over scene, but the two of them make a great pair and I’d love to see them taking on bigger roles.
As a movie, “Trick ‘r Treat” is good acting, a quick pace and an ever changing storyline. As a horror movie, it’s an original take on some old ideas and bunch of real creepy set ups. As a Halloween horror movie, it’s chock full of great scenery with an awesome set of stories to keep the kids up all night. While its release was not highly publicized and it was not particularly well reviewed by the mainstream, horror fans have been hard pressed to find another movie with the same balls as this one. It is what it is, which occasionally is campy, occasionally irreverent and sometimes downright goofy, but it sticks to its guns. My compliments to the team who put out such an ode to the season.