There really is no holiday better then Halloween; at least in my opinion. Sure the holiday spirit is in the air and the season of Christmas brings joy and warmth to my heart, but it is the spookiness and fun-natured time of Halloween that really makes me smile. It’s also the time of year when the best in horror films adorn multiple channels for our viewing pleasure. Sadly, that also includes the worst in horror films as well as the mediocre which has become a staple in recent years as the horror genre somewhat tries to reinvent itself. I consider it quite rare to see a new horror film come my way that is not only enjoyable but invokes the true feeling of Halloween. Well, things just got a little less rare.
Halloween is a big deal in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone and it is almost considered a sin if you don’t dress up and participate in the festivities. Trick ‘r Treat weaves together four tales involving some of the local townspeople and shows just how scary the holiday dedicated to ghosts and ghoulies really can be. Each short story has a plot of its own and can stand alone for even longer then the time frame given to it, but things are done perfectly by not letting the tales get stale or oversaturated. It really goes to show you just how little you may know about those living right next door.
Our first tale takes us inside the life of the local school principal with a dark secret he wants no-one to know about. Sure he loves his job and takes great pride in it, but it’s his nighttime position that really gets his blood pumping. Whether it is molding young minds further or burying them right in his backyard, Principal Wilkins truly gets a lot of satisfaction in knowing he is a part of his students’ advancements and demise.
Speaking of children leads us into our second story that takes five young children down a spooky path to an abandoned rock quarry where an “urban legend” was born. Long ago a bus driver took eight special children off their normal route to school and had plans to ease their stressed out parents of their burdens. Things didn’t go quite as planned and now their spirits and legend haunt the quarry and those that dare go near it. For the five children there on this Halloween night only one shows the respect deserving of the lives lost many years ago.
Story number three follows four young women who are merely looking for a good time party on this oh so scary night. Nothing more then some no strings attached fun with dates they barely know and plenty of alcohol to drink, but it’s hard when there is always the shy girl in the group. Laurie has never had her “first time,” but her sister is determined to let her experience it by finding her the right guy. Little do the random boys know just what the costumed beauties have in store for them. Finally our fourth tale leads us into the dreary life of the neighborhood grouch that wants nothing to do with Halloween. He doesn’t want to hand out candy or decorate or deal with children or tolerate the playful pranks that come everyone’s way on All Hallow’s Eve. Mr. Kreeg doesn’t realize though that not following the rules will get you more then you ever wished for.
Many people have told me that Trick ‘r Treat is the best horror/Halloween film they have seen in the past thirty years and I am more then inclined to agree with them. Not only does it steer away from the immense gore and gimmicks that we’ve seen in recent years, but it actually brings horror fans like myself back to the glory days of the seventies and eighties. There’s an incredible similar feeling had while watching it that reminds me of Creepshow along with the wonderful series, Tales from the Crypt. Don’t expect anything overly scary or anything like that here because it isn’t needed to really make this one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time. Trick ‘r Treat is going to be a huge annual staple in my Halloween film viewing and certainly one of my favorites already.
Trick ‘r Treat has both a 1.33:1 Full Screen or a 2.30:1 Anamorphic Widescreen ratio available for your frightening pleasure. Both come through well with great colors and a sharp picture, but the widescreen format is by far superior for viewing.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it truly adds to the creepy experience you’ll get while watching this film. Noises come from all around you while the screams and music really get you going.
Trick ‘r Treat: Season’s Greetings – This animated short from 1996 can be viewed with or without commentary from director Michael Dougherty who created it during his days back in school. It’s cute and well worth the little bit of time spent to check it out. Kind of awesome learning the name of the film’s main character also which is Sam. (3:48)
Trailers – Orphan and The Hills Run Red
Don’t let my final rating fool you because it is garnered over the DVD as a whole and is only 3.5 discs simply because of the sever lack of special features. It would have been incredibly awesome to get an audio commentary from even just the director as Dougherty did a really good one for his animated short.
Nonetheless, Trick ‘r Treat is going to be the best Halloween/horror film you’ll see this year period and probably the best you’ve seen in a very long time. It’s just excellent from the phenomenal opening credits to the seamless transition between stories and all the way up to the perfect ending. This is a film that has been on the shelf since late 2007 and it was obviously worth the wait. My only hope is that enough people catch wind of it so that we may get a possible sequel or two. Halloween is on its way folks…make sure you play by the rules.
Warner Home Video presents Trick ‘r Treat. Directed by: Michael Dougherty. Starring: Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Brian Cox. Written by: Michael Dougherty. Running time: 82 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: October 6, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Anna Paquin, halloween