Here is a film that's had a long strange trip from conception and execution to arriving in your hands in the form of this Blu-ray (or DVD). It was on and off the Warner Brothers release schedule a number of times between October of 2007 and early 2009 before this home video release.
For the horror fan this has been a troubling time. Consider the steady stream of PG-13 and Saw-inspired fare from The Unborn to The Collector that we have gotten and the frustration becomes abundantly clear. Yes, we have had the occasional winner like Drag Me to Hell and The Last House on the Left, but those are the exceptions and not the rule. Add to that the fact that wherever Trick 'r Treat has played it has gotten rave reviews. Certainly looks like Warner had a hit on their hands. So what happened? I do not know and now that I have a copy, I do not care.
The movie is fun. Flat out entertaining. Yes, it is a horror movie, but it is also something much more. Writer/director Michael Dougherty takes us on a trip into Halloween by way of an '80s approach where the goal is to entertain and thrill. There is not an ounce of torture to be found here. Think of it as the anti-Saw. This movie is not so much a horror film as it is a Halloween film. That being true, it is probably the best Halloween-centric film I have ever seen, at least that I can remember. No, I don't really consider Halloween or its sequels to be Halloween films, despite all taking place on the holiday — they're still more slasher horror than holiday horror.
Trick 'r Treat tells four interlocking tales that span one fateful Halloween night. Dylan Baker displays his plans for tricking Halloween revelers. Anna Paquin and her friends are looking for dates to take to a party in woods. A group of younger trick or treaters collecting an offering to take to the site of a tragic accident. Finally, Brian Cox is visited by someone intent on teaching him the importance of the holiday's tradition.
Sounds like a lot of story. The film masterfully moves between each of the tales, allowing them to flow together as one. Not only that, we jump around in time as the stories move along their tracks. It is amazing how much this works to the film's advantage. If you pay attention you will find characters overlapping in other stories, passing through in the background or having brief interactions with the main characters of the focus story. Then there is Sam, the one character who witnesses all of our stories — the little fellow in the sack mask who you should be wary of should you cross his path.
This film is so much fun. It really captures the feeling of Halloween. It is set in a nameless town where everyone in the town goes all out for the holiday. Everyone is in costume, jack-o-lanterns are everywhere, and there is one giant party going on. However, throughout all of the partying, you have these stories of death. It fits perfectly.
Trick 'r Treat marks Michael Dougherty's directorial debut. His prior credits include work on X2 and Superman Returns. This feels like his most personal film yet. It is not that I believe this to be autobiographical, so much as it has the distinct flavor of a singular voice. It is original and it is fun. He sets up the universe and plays by the rules. Everything successfully weaves together in what is sure to become a holiday classic.