I’ve often heard it said that Halloween is better than Christmas. Indeed, all the holiday’s darkness and deviance certainly makes for a better office party when compared to the wholesome obligations attached to celebrating the birth of Christ (and/or consumerism). I can see why kids and adults alike are more apt to light up at the prospect of cos-play and candy than, *yawn,* charity and family. While I personally couldn’t care about what the calendar says so long as I have a legitimate excuse to drink myself into a hazy stupor, writer and director Michael Dougherty sides with the camp of Halloween-o-philes with his 2007 horror comedy anthology “Trick r’ Treat.”
For one close-knit American community, Halloween night is bigger than mardi-gras and even more debauched. “Trick r’ Treat” follows the exploits of one school principal, a group of young pranksters, and a virginal college girl (Anna Paquin) on her way to a party. As the stories unfold, audiences will wonder who will make it through the night alive.
“Always Check your Candy!”
“Trick r’ Treat” is to Halloween what “White Christmas” (1954) is to…you know. From start to finish the screen is saturated with so many jack-o-lanterns and so much candy it’s almost enough to make one feel queasy. Thank goodness the gore in this movie is laughably awful, or else viewers would get sick for sure. Corn syrup and prosthetic limbs, anybody? Anyway, the plots within the anthology narrative are tolerably interwoven, yet I can’t help but take up issue with the fact that one story seems to suck up all the film’s energy, leaving the others limp and droll by comparison.
A disproportionate chunk of time is dedicated to explaining the back-story behind a group of costume-clad zombies seeking revenge (Or are they ghosts? For all the time this story is given, the type of monster we’re dealing with isn’t actually clarified as explicitly as it should be). The plot holes and gaps created by the lesser stories are filled with hollow cliches created by preceding horror movies. Even the framing device of this film, a demonically cute trick-or-treater who makes an appearance in every story, can only be understood with beforehand knowledge of obscure Halloween folklore. That’s right, apparently there’s a lot more to this holiday than cavities and cleavage-baring costumes. At least, that’s what this movie insists upon, albeit unconvincingly.
“Charlie Brown’s an Asshole.”
I chose to watch and review “Trick r’ Treat” due to the internet assuring me of its apparent cult status. What I got out of this experience is a) the internet is not always to most reliable source of information and b) the phrase “cult status” does not necessarily equal good quality. Aside from approximately two funny lines and the playful take on ordering and structure that is typical of an anthology, this movie is remarkably unremarkable. Sure, it celebrates the spirit of Halloween in the way of other holiday movies, and perhaps this explains its so-called cult status—there aren’t many other films tailored specifically for this time of year, and beggars can’t be choosers. The movie hopes that by shoving its Halloween-themed clap-trap down our throats we’ll forgive its inadequacies even while it’s being mildly offensive by killing off young children, some of which are mentally handicapped. Overall, it is important to remember that one day out of the year does not excuse bad behaviour, nor does it justify mediocre storytelling. Those of you who are too old for trick or treating, and are instead on the hunt for a favourite Halloween movie best look elsewhere. You’re not going to find it here.
Overall Rating: 4/10