Friday 30 Sep 2016

The Halloween Movie
Jeremy Mullin

With all the horror movies available, it’s hard to say which is best on Halloween.  The most obvious choice, of course, is “Halloween,” the definitive slasher-classic from John Carpenter.  Some might want to try something a little different, and one film that could give Halloween a run for its money is Trick ‘r Treat.

Directed by Michael Dougherty, “Trick ‘r Treat” (2007) is an anthology. There are four stories centered on the traditions and rules of Halloween. It’s not a remake of “Trick or Treat” (1986) about the ghost of a dead heavy metal singer. 

In one story, a clean-cut character, Principal Wilkins, portrayed by Dylan Baker, has a killer secret he’s having a hard time keeping, thanks to his son. Some kids learn about “The School Bus Massacre,” a local ghost story. Pretty Laurie, portrayed by Anna Paquin, is on her way to a Halloween party, when she runs into a mysterious stalker. Mr. Kreeg, portrayed by Brian Cox, the local cranky old man who hates Halloween, who has a visitor intent on teaching him about the scary holiday. 

Present in each story is Sam. He’s a mysterious trick-or-treater in a simple costume of orange footie pajamas and a burlap sack “pumpkin” mask.  Whether he just makes a brief appearance or plays a role of some type, Sam is there, always. Moreover, he’s not what he wants us to believe.

There are many reasons this movie could be the best to watch on Halloween and not just the obvious one that the whole thing is themed around the holiday.  For one, there’s the storytelling.  In most anthology movies, the stories are all separate, often with a “host” in between segments to set things up.  The stories in “Trick ‘r Treat,” are closely blended. Storylines intersect, especially the first and last ones. Characters run into each other, in different episodes, which is similar to films such as “Traffic.”  Although Sam is present in each story, he isn’t a host setting things up, but present to keep everything connected.  This makes “Trick ‘r Treat” seem different from others and as if you’re watching a single movie.

Another great thing about “Trick ‘r Treat,” also related to the storytelling, are the various twists and turns it takes. Yes, that’s true of most horror movies, but “Trick ‘r Treat” makes good use of this technique.  Even if you guess a few before they happen, it’s still fun to watch them play out, especially since there’s a few that will still throw you for a loop.  Obviously, we won’t reveal any here, since that would spoil the movie. Still, if you’re looking for a movie with some twists and surprises, “Trick ‘r Treat” is what you want.

The cast is always an important part of a movie, especially a horror movie. “Trick ‘r Treat” has a great cast.  Dylan Baker, who has appeared in films such “Requiem for a Dream” and “Secretariat"; he knows how to play a man who is both nerdy and creepy.  Anna Paquin pulls off playing a girl who is an innocent virgin. Brian Cox has the look and attitude of a neighbourhood grumpy old man. There are other cast members as well that are too numerous to list, but they all fit into their parts and help move the stories along.

It also helps that the movie isn’t a gore-fest, as are most horror films these days. Compared to films like “Hostel” and the “Saw” series, “Trick ‘r Treat” is tame.  The blood is there for a reason and not just for shock value.  Combine this part with the various twists and turns as well as the expertly done jump moments and it makes for a great film.

To put it simply, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a great film, especially for Halloween. Whether you’re a horror fan, looking to add to your collection, or need a movie for a party,”Trick ‘r Treat” is the one. This movie is a great alternative to “Halloween.”

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