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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 138: Trick 'r Treat

Trick 'r Treat
Give me something good to eat

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Halloween. Maybe it's all the costumes and candy, but just that time of year is perfect. The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, football has started, and lots of horror is on TV. Some horror movies just use Halloween as background, just to set the scene or an excuse to have actors dress up in silly costumes. Other movies, though, fully immerse themselves in the holiday to create an atmosphere perfect for horror. It doesn't hurt when it's produced by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects).

Trick 'r Treat is a 2007 horror anthology consisting of 4 stories: The Principal, The School Bus Massacre Revisited, Surprise Party, and Meet Sam. Unlike other horror anthologies like The Creepshow and Deadtime Stories, these stories all take place on one Halloween night in a small town. Each story is connected through various ways including the presence of a pint-sized trick-or-treater in an orange onesy and a burlap sack mask.

In The Principal, Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2, Road To Perdition) plays the school principle, Steven Wilkins. He catches a young trick-or-treater stealing candy from his yard. He carves a pumpkin while talking to the boy and hands him some more candy. The candy contains poison and Wilkins buries him in the backyard. His neighbor, Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox, X2: X-Men United, Red) yells at him to keep the noise down and is attacked off-screen by an unknown assailant. Wilkins' son Billy is home and almost catches his father burying the body. Billy continues to nag his father about carving a jack-o-lantern. What does Steven have in store for Billy?

Sorry, I just thought about something funny while I was burying this child

In The School Bus Massacre Revisited 4 kids have plans to scare another girl in their class, a savant named Rhonda. They tell her the story of the Halloween School Bus Massacre, where a school bus carrying mentally handicapped children, was driven off a cliff at the behest of their parents. The kids head to the spot where it supposedly occurred. They try to scare Rhonda by saying the children have come back from the dead, but all is not what it seems.

Surprise Party stars Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood) as Laurie, the insecure virgin. Dressed as Little Red Riding hood, she attends a Halloween party with her skanked-out sister and friends. They pick up a few guys and head to a bonfire in the woods. Meanwhile, a vampire has been claiming victims and is stalking Laurie. Have we already seen this vampire before and is Laurie really the one in danger?

When does Wolverine jump out?

The final story, Meet Sam, visits Mr. Kreeg, whom we saw being attacked in The Principal. Kreeg is in a life or death battle with the diminutive Sam. During the fight, Kreeg is able to rip off Sam's mask, revealing a disfigured jack-o-lantern skull face. Sam brutalizes Kreeg, but leaves before the killing blow. It is revealed the Kreeg was the bus driver from the Halloween School Bus Massacre. Even though Sam left, is Kreeg really safe?

This movie was flat-out awesome. The stories are all creative and interesting, not an easy task when trying to cram so many stories in a short amount of time. What's even more impressive is that they all connect in unexpected ways. The work very well for the most part, though I was a bit confused while watching, but all is eventually revealed. The writing is fluid and tight while the dialogue never feels unnatural or forced. I'm not sure if each individual story could stand to be a feature-length film, but they all compliment each other so well that it would be unnecessary to stretch each story out. While there's no outright fear induced by the movie, there are a few scenes that will make you feel uneasy, in a good way. 

Deadwood trained him well

There is lots of good action and violence with plenty of excitement to keep you on the edge of your seat. There is a decent amount of blood and gore, but nothing over the top. The movie really succeeds because of the great acting from all involved. Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, and Brian Cox all play their parts perfectly which strengthen the already strong stories. Director and writer Michael Dougherty (X2 and Superman Returns) has a good eye for capturing the action without resorting to fast cuts and shaky cameras. If I have one complaint, it's that the movie is a bit too dark in certain scenes, but really, that's just nitpicking.

Trick 'r treat is a well-crafted horror movie through and through. The stories are interesting and are weaved into a creative and cohesive connection that is truly unexpected. The writing and direction are old solid, bolstered by great acting performances. There is a good amount of action and violence, enough to keep you entertained for the entire movie. Trick 'r Treat is a fun ride from start to finish and worth your while, no matter time of year you watch it.


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