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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trick 'r Treat

Title: Trick 'r Treat
Year of Release: 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Date Viewed: May 13th, 2010

The next time October rolls around and you unload your stash of horror movies to help get in the spirit of things, make sure to add this little gem to the pile. Screenwriter Michael Dougherty takes the director's chair for this horror anthology and gives us a real treat of a movie that is destined for cult status. Dougherty has previously written screenplays for two Bryan Singer-directed films; X-Men 2 and Superman Returns. Singer serves as a producer for this film.

The movie contains four stories interwoven with a common theme. Respect the traditions of Halloween or die. The stories unfold using a comic book style narrative with constant flashbacks and flash forwards to different events that occur during a single Halloween night. These events all have a connection often featuring several characters interacting with each other within their own respective tales. If you've seen Crash or any of its many clones, then you'll be familiar with the formula.

The phrase "the less said, the better" is usually not a compliment. In this case however, it's the highest compliment I can give. I won't reveal any potential spoilers but I will give you an idea of what to expect. Each of these four stories have their own little surprises attached and I defy anyone who can correctly predict them all. You may find yourself perplexed and maybe puzzled at some of the characters' behavior or at the vague foreshadowing. It's all part of the fun and what separates Trick 'r Treat from other horror films. Granted, foreshadowing and strange behavior are not uncommon for this genre, but the film never cheats the viewer. In fact, it rewards them.

In the first tale, we meet a mysterious school principal (Dylan Baker) who seems to enjoy Halloween a little too much. His affection for the traditions seem to have taken control of his sanity and possibly his soul.

In the second tale, we meet a group of young adult females who vow to help their friend (Anna Paquin) lose her virginity before the night is over. It's easier said than done, but not for the reasons you'd think.

In the third tale, we meet a group of young schoolchildren who decide to spend the evening honoring the victims of a Halloween legend. Supposedly, the ghosts of the victims still roam the crime scene. But that's not the most dangerous thing that's lurking around town.

In the fourth tale, we meet an elderly man (Brian Cox) that cannot stand Halloween and is paid a visit by a menace that seems to oversee all of the strange occurances that happen on Halloween night. Who exactly is this menace? Picture the spirit of Jacob Marley and the sadism of the Child's Play doll and you have your villain.

The thing that surprised me most about this film is its approach to the subject matter. Though it's not a comedy by any means, the plot and dialogue is laced with enough tongue-in-cheek humour so as not to take everything so seriously. The film feels like a throwback to the campy 1980s horror films where it focuses more on encouraging the audience to have fun over simply scaring them. It's a welcome refreshing break.

While Trick 'r Treat isn't as scary as the trailer would lead you to believe, it is still great fun and offers a Halloween film that adults can enjoy while their young ones watch Hocus Pocus in the other room. Watch it with friends and enjoy the ride.

And try not to eat too much candy.

Rating: 8

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