Trick ‘r Treat

This B is really more of an average, splitting the difference between an A for tone, structure, and gore, and a big fat EFFFFF for camera work. I’m looking for a way to express how catastrophic the camera work is for Trick ‘r Treat, and I’m landing somewhere between soft-core porn and Lifetime original movie.

Oh yes. That bad.

It essentially felt like the film had been formatted to fit [your] screen, with lots of pan and scan and poor framing, but I was watching a blu-ray DVD on a very nice, wide, flatscreen television, so I don’t understand how that could be possible. There’s not much more I can say about how abysmal the camera movement was, and obviously no pictures will do it justice because the actual shots were all lovely, the camera just moved over them in the crappiest way possible, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Essentially: cheap, cheap and glossy. Like rayon or cubic zirconia!

However, there were other things! Awesome things! The opening was sweet, despite Tahmoh Penikett’s penchant for Wolverine-style scream-acting:

and the comic book credits were pretty cool, too. See for yourselves!

As you can see at the link, this movie starts out with a bang! Porn and blood! Trick ‘r Treat is actually an anthology of four scary Halloween stories (in addition to the opening), and they’re all very cool and twisty.

Story 1:

Dylan Baker, get away from that kid! I’m sorry, I just do not trust him around males under the age of 15 after Happiness. Can you blame me? Unfortunately for poor type-cast Mr. Baker, my mistrust is accurately placed here. Dude is creepy.

Hilariously so! Baker plays Mr. Wilkins, the local principal, although he’s less of a ‘pal and more of a, you know, serial killer. With crotchety old Brian Cox as a neighbor!

Best curmudgeon ever! I could seriously enjoy a spin-off starring Cox and Baker as wacky neighbors. Shit, make it a sitcom.

Story 2:

A handful of bitchy little kids decide to freak out the local adorbs weirdo girl by playing an atrocious prank on her at the site of this school bus massacre that took place thirty years ago. The flashback to the massacre is the only genuinely frightening part of this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I dug the hell out of Trick ‘r Treat; it was funny and gross and hard-core, but it wasn’t scary. Except for THIS!

BLURG! Take off those masks, scary disturbed children! You are wigging my ass out!

Oh and don’t worry, the adorbs weirdo kid totally got back at the bitchy little pranksters. In a highly satisfying manner.

Story 3:


Anna Paquin, what are you doing here? Oh, Bryan Singer must have traded on his X-Men currency to snag you before you started filming True Blood. It sure is nice to see you with brown hair again. You’re so much prettier this way! See?

That bleach job does nothing for your complexion! Where were we? Oh yes, Trick ‘r Treat. A movie in which you are inexplicably featured. Paquin plays the virginal Little Red Riding Hood amidst her slutty fairy tale companions.

Snow White, Cinderella and whatever-the-pink-one-is-supposed-to-be (besides the perennially naked girl in Smallville and Lost Boys: The Tribe) decide it’s time to get Red laid. They split up and Red is stalked by a mysterious vampy-type.

Despite the fact that they are totally cloak-buddies, Red doesn’t want anything to do with MysteryVamp. And then…some incredibly awesome stuff happens that I just can’t bring myself to spoil no matter how badly I want to. This review is spoiler-free! I will only say that there is an ubiquitous horror scene that has never before been executed in such a freshly grotesque manner, and Trick ‘r Treat just NAILS it. GAH I want to tell you! But I won’t, so here are just some more pretty shots of Anna Paquin being pretty.

What is it about the image of Little Red Riding Hood that is so intrinsically artistic? 

Story 4:

AKA, Kreeg the Curmudgeonly Neighbor Gets His Own Storyline!

Kreeg hates Halloween, has a mysterious past, and is being tormented by Sam, the creepy little thread who runs throughout Trick ‘r Treat.

Sam cameos in all of the above stories but takes on more of a starring villain role in Kreeg’s house. Trick ‘r Treat writer/director Michael Doughterty  manages these disparate threads with a deft hand, in that there are dozens of subtle allusions and visual hints that weave them all together. The writing is frankly great, and I really dig the tone, because it’s just so absurd and yet still wholeheartedly, intensely fucked up. I have to admit, I cringed when the Marilyn Manson cover of “Sweet Dreams” played over a scene, because dudes, this is not 1995, but that could quite possibly be an intentionally quirky decision on the director’s part.

The writing is certainly not the problem here, nor the tone, nor the set design, which I truly enjoyed:

No the problem lies entirely with the camera work. Michael Doughtery heretofore has worked as a successful screenwriter in a couple Bryan Singer films (X-Men 2 and Superman Returns, hence Singer’s involvement with presenting Trick ‘r Treat) and I don’t know, maybe he should stick to his day job. Although the cinematographer was Glen MacPherson, and he’s shot tons of stuff I’ve seen, including The Final Destination and Resident Evil this year alone, and I don’t remember those films reeking of the Cinemax After Hours treatment, so lord, who knows who’s to blame.

Still and all, Trick ‘r Treat is fun and original with a wicked sense of humor and I’m not displeased to hear that Doughtery is already talking sequel. The original is definitely worth a rental, especially next Halloween season! 

Link Drop!

Various tidbits of things I care about!

JJ Abrams finally stops trying to give me a heart attack and realizes he is not the man for The Dark Tower movie! (thanks for the link, Ray!)

Speaking of screamy old Tahmoh, the inevitable has come to pass: Dollhouse is a goner.

Holy lord, I love this season! The CW is presenting the two-parter Justice Society eps as a 2-hour movie event on January 29! This may interrupt my plans to throw a birthday party for my dog on that day. Sorry, Zelda! (thanks for the link, Mandy!)

8 Responses to “Trick ‘r Treat”

  1. I have to say, I was not thrilled with Trick ‘r Treat, though I was thoroughly happy with the casting of Baker, who I fell in love with after I watched Happiness by myself. Anyway, let’s stop talking about my first year of college; let’s get back to the matter at hand. I didn’t notice the crappy camera stuff, I was more annoyed by all the things that have been done better somewhere else, like a kid in a burlap sack, obvi The Orphanage. Masks, also the Orphanage, and for some reason, I’m thinking Donny Darko. The twists didn’t work for me. They were too guessable. I whole heartedly agree on the Paquin comment. GO BACK TO BRUNETTE, the world will thank you. I don’t know that Trick ‘r Treat will be one that I revisit ever. Without trying to spoil, blue eyes to brown?! I don’t think so. I definitely loved the curmudgeonly neighbor. Hollah on the sit com spin off. When Baker was digging the body, I kept thinking, man, I should be watching the Burbs right now! Anyway, the rant of terror has come to an end.

  2. Oh Sally, all my notes read during any of Sam’s appearances: “Hello! Tomas from El Orfanato!” And yet…I thought I would give this film a lower rating when I was watching it, but upon much further reflection…I just can’t stop thinking about it! I don’t know why! Thus the B.

  3. this a total sarah-is-not-into-horror question but: was the vamp guy stalking anna even cute? maybe? no? ok.

    double true on what sally said about that weird burlap kid and the orphanage. now THAT little dude gave me THE HEEBIE JEEBIES TO THE MAX.

    also, i really wish brian singer would do x-men 4.

  4. Here’s one more vote for AP as a brunette. I still haven’t gotten used to her as a blonde.

    I also liked this movie. It had some really awesome parts to it. It had such potential and they just couldn’t take it all the way for some reason. I do agree, it’s worth a watch–if only for the Anna Paquin part.

    Also, Smallville movie? What????!??! I better go to Sam’s and buy a case of Boone’s.

  5. “Also, Smallville movie? What????!??! I better go to Sam’s and buy a case of Boone’s”:

    That right there, Matt, is the reason I married you.

  6. Oh and Sarah, the Mystery Vamp turned out to be another character from the film we’d seen earlier, and, uhm…no, he is not cute. Well, he would be if he weren’t so damned creepy.

  7. I totally am down for the B. It was fun to watch (as I roasted pumpkin seeds, so I was obvi in the mood for some Halloween flick action). I guess I was disappointed because the video rental guy was waxing crazy poetical, and we watched it instead of Nightmare on Elm Street, which Brencho has NEVER SEEN!! And I love Baker, so I wanted him to be all over the place! I should throw all that info out there so I can be seen for the subjective voice I cannot deny myself to be!

    I hope that Boone’s means what I think it means…

  8. Strawberry Hill in the hizzy! No, I agree, Sally, the internets have OD’d on hyperbole for this flick.

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