Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick r Treat

I always wondered why there aren't more Halloween-themed horror movies.

One thing that I loved about the original Halloween was the idea that all of it was taking place on Halloween night. Trick or treaters were out on the street, parties were taking place all over town, and yet in the middle of all that commotion, someone was being stalked by a behemoth in a William Shatner mask.

But despite the built-in creepy factor of movies set during Halloween night, there aren't many movies that take place during the holiday. Most horror movies are set around generic teenage rituals like the prom, a random house party, a school event, or nothing in particular at all. Hell, even the lamer-with-each-installment Halloween sequels and remakes are released at the end of summer (!) instead of being released at uh...Halloween?

Thankfully, Michael Dougherty (Superman Returns, X-Men 2) understood the need for movies taking place on Halloween night and made Trick r Treat. But the road from production to release was not an easy one. Maybe studio heads have something against Halloween-set horror movies. Who knows?

Trick r Treat was filmed and completed way back in 2006 and was originally intended for an October 2007 release. For whatever reason, Warner Bros. pulled it from that release date, perhaps fearing the stranglehold that the Saw films had on October release dates. But then 2008 came and went and still no release date was announced.

Finally, Trick r Treat saw its release come in the form of direct-to-video earlier this fall, something that's usually foreshadows a movie's quality. Meaning, there is none.

But Trick r Treat could quite possibly be the best direct-to-video movie of all time. And it still baffles me how studio heads could let this film, with its Halloween antics, fall through the cracks without an October theatrical release.

The film is an anthology, much in the vein of the Creepshow movies, or Tales from the Crypt. There are several stories being told at once, and sometimes they cross paths. This just adds to the feeling that there is a lot going on this Halloween night.

I won't say too much about the plot of each story because they are best to be discovered on your own, and much of the fun is seeing where they bleed into one another and how a character from one story shows up in another. But I will say that each story hearkens back to the days of childhood, where a scary story could terrify you, and keep you wanting more, all at once.

As for Halloween as a holiday, Dougherty nails it. He litters each scene with creepy Halloween imagery, be it dozens of glowing Jack-O-Lanterns, fog, leaf blown streets, a party in the woods, or an abandoned rock quarry. The film just oozes Halloween at every turn.

Surprisingly, some familiar faces also show up in the film. Brian Cox (Troy, The Bourne Identity), Anna Paquin (True Blood) and Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2) all have major roles. And for a movie that was kicked to the direct-to-video curb, the film looks great. At no point do you feel like you're watching a low-budget horror movie. This is the real deal, folks.

So, unless your reading comprehension is pre-school level, I absolutely loved Trick r Treat. It could quite possibly be the best Halloween movie of all time, behind the original Halloween, of course.

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