Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Horror Movie Challenge: Trick r' Treat (2009)

Directed by Michael Dougherty, Trick 'r Treat is an anthology horror film consisting of four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: A high school principal has a secret life as a psychotic serial killer; a college girl might have just met the perfect guy for her first time; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank on a social outcast; an old curmudgeon is visited by a peculiar trick or treater.

Since its delayed "Direct-to-DVD" release in 2009, Trick 'r Treat has rapidly become something of a modern Halloween classic. The film's garnered a strong cult following and finds its way onto a lot of Halloween marathon lists. Its kind of shocking at first to think about how many people embraced this little film, but you quickly realize why after watching it.

Trick 'r Treat is easily one of the best anthology films of the past decade. It's stories work, they're woven together nicely, and utilizes its Halloween theme properly.

Most Halloween films tend to use the holiday theme in one of two ways: use it as simple setting that barely affects the overall narrative, or routinely beats their audience over the head with its theme. The best Halloween films fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Trick 'r Treat embraces the holiday,  having it influence each story in a specific way, without going overboard with it. Whenever I pop this film into the DVD player, I immediately find myself feeling the spirit of Halloween (even if its January or July).

Trick 'r Treat utilizes the same method of anthology storytelling that Pulp Fiction does. All four stories exist within the same town on the same Halloween night, influencing and affecting each other. For example, one story will introduce a plot point that will become more relevant later, or we might see characters who will show up in a different story. The only thing connecting all four stories is the mysterious trick or treater Sam, who seems to be the literal Spirit of Halloween ("Sam", which could be a shortened version of "Samhain"). While some stories are obviously better than others, causing Trick 'r Treat to suffer the same consistency problem that haunts almost every anthology film, they are all good in their own ways and they never overstay their welcome do to the interwoven nature of the narrative.

I'm happy to see Trick 'r Treat get the recognition that it deserves. Its one of the best Halloween films ever made and it will always have a place on my Halloween "Must Watch" list. If you're looking for a Halloween-themed movie or a well made horror anthology film, give Trick 'r Treat a chance.

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