Welcome to the first installment of 2Spooky, the creepiest corner of the Movie Review Crew! This blog is all about horror movies so I thought I'd kick things off appropriately with Trick 'r Treat. This 2007 horror film directed by Michael Dougherty looks at the fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio on Halloween night and weaves four separate stories into a single narrative of horror with a sprinkle of dark comedy, but is it any good? Let's take a look. Beware: there may be minor spoilers ahead.
First, let's take a look at the casting. There aren't very many big names, the only faces that might even be recognizable are Anna Paquin (better known as Rogue in the original X-Men trilogy,) Brian Cox (also from the X-Men movies among many other things,) and Dylan Baker (probably most recognizable from Spider-Man 2 and 3.) Dougherty doesn't have a huge list of movies under his belt when it comes to directing, but from what I've noticed he prefers to not cast too many big names and relies heavily on unknowns to carry his films. Surprisingly, this works extremely well as, while there are no exceptional performances, there isn't a bad performance to be seen here in my opinion. He also relies heavily on child actors when he directs, which I'm normally very against, and this is one of many aspects where Dougherty shines as a director. For those of you who are regular listeners of the show (which is hopefully everyone reading this) you know how much I despise child actors. Michael Dougherty has a talent in drawing exceptional performances out of young actors, which should be commended. This film doesn't rely as heavily on children as say, Krampus does (go check out that review in our archives if you haven't already,) but the children that do appear in this film do their jobs well. To me, if I don't automatically hate everything they do on screen it's a success.
Moving on, let's look at the plot. This is arguable the weakest aspect of the film, since this movie can technically be considered an anthology film. We follow 4 different stories that all kind of interweave, but they don't from a single grand narrative. This also has the potential to become confusing, as the stories bounce around a bit and don't happen chronologically. I didn't have a problem following what was going, and to me this type of storytelling felt pretty fresh. First, we open on a kind of prologue. We meet a young couple that are just getting home from the town's Halloween festival. You can tell right away that the lady (it isn't established if they're married or dating. It also doesn't really matter) isn't super into Halloween and the guy jokes that she should respect the traditions more. Spoiler alert: this is a horror movie so you know someone is going to die, and it ends up being the lady. This takes us right into our opening credits and the film kind of does a rewind where we will now be focusing on our 4 different stories. We only see this couple again in passing, the films doesn't acknowledge them again otherwise. Our 4 stories are a school principal who is also a serial killer, a group of young ladies - one of whom is looking to find her special someone, a group of teenagers to try to play a prank and it goes horribly awry, and an old man who is visited by some sort of Halloween demon.
I won't spoil the stories in depth, but they're all very good. Each story displays an appropriate amount of creepy imagery and dark humor, making it a horror/comedy of sorts. From what I can tell, all of the effects are done practically which I absolutely love. There is one scene in particular involving werewolves that has probably some of the coolest effects I've seen in any movie. The costume design, while simplistic (remember, these are normal people trick-or-treating for the most part) is effective, making the horrific imagery stand out even more. The cinematography is very well done; making for a tense, fun ride throughout.
Overall, if you're a fan of horror you should absolutely see this movie. It is a fantastic send-up of horror films that came before while still being its own movie. Trick 't Treat is fun, scary, and dare I say brilliant.