When I first began kind of gathering a list of my 31 movies for October, I actually probably thought more about it than I should have. I wanted to be sure and do an assortment, some are movies I’ve watched religiously since I was a kid, some were my immediate feelings on having literally just watched them for the first time. But when I was running through some in my head, there were a few that stood out that I knew I had to absolutely review, if for not only to give me a reason to revisit it, but more so in the hopes that someone, just even one person, might see this and it be the reason they even gave any of these movies a shot. This movie, “Trick ‘r Treat”, is *THAT* movie. Some of these movies are ones that everyone has heard of, some of them are ones that almost no one has heard of (not anyone I personally know, anyhow). “Trick ‘r Treat” probably falls into the middle of those two categories, though it should be on everyone’s list of movies to watch this time of year. I’m far from the only guy that engulfs themselves in horror movies in October, I think most people at least watch a few, if only “Hocus Pocus” or Charlie Brown or whatever. “Trick ‘r Treat” is the one movie that is probably not on your list, but not only should it be on your list, it should be required viewing for all human beings for the Halloween season.
There’s kind of a subgenre of horror called “holiday horror”, which are obviously horror movies based on holidays. Now, these can span from everything on the calendar, from the often maligned “Silent Night, Deadly Night” series, to the string of generic 80’s slashers that were titled after every holiday celebrated in the known universe, like “April Fool’s Day” and “Mother’s Day”. So obviously, in the world of scary movies, you know there’d have to be a fair share of movies centered on the actual holiday of Halloween itself. And there are some very good ones. But rarely does a movie come along that just so superbly embraces the essence of a particular topic like this movie does. Everything about this movie, from the intro to music to the credits just oozes out the true spirit of Halloween. And I’m not even talking about the Samhain stuff, or the classical mythology of the holiday. I’m talking the fun, but scary spirit. The stuff that makes us want to decorate our yards, give out candy, sit on the porch and watch kids go by, or even that little meaner part of the spirit that I happen to be fond of, the part that makes me want to dress up myself every year and genuinely just scare the shit out of little kids. But obviously, all in good fun. In a world where a lot of people feel it’s unsafe to even let their kids walk down the street after sunset, a world where some people forbid their kids to eat candy for fear of poison or razor blades or ecstasy pills or whatever, a lot of the actual FUN has been taken out of Halloween. I think I was part of the last generation that actually waited until dark to go trick or treating, that went to every single house, that wasn’t tied to a leash and made to be done and home by 4 pm. That same spirit is EXACTLY what this movie is.
“Trick ‘r Treat” is a bit of an anthology film containing 4 different interwoven stories all taking place on Halloween night. Unlike a lot of movies that are scary that just to happen to take place on Halloween, the holiday itself is essentially a character in the film, along with Sam, who is our little guy that is seemingly the common denominator in all of our tales. He’s not a central character until the end, but he’s the one that you see walking down the street, sitting on the curb, etc. I’m sure you’ve probably seen him, he’s a little kid in what looks like a onesie with a burlap sack over his head with big buttons for eyes. He’s actually become a little bit of a cult horror icon over the last few years, as he’s just so unbelievably adorable. But we quickly find out that his looks might be the only cute thing about him. So I’ll kind of run through our stories a bit though I REALLY don’t want to spoil them, it takes so much of the fun away:
1. The Principal - We’ve all been to that house where they leave a box of candy on the porch that says “take one piece, but leave some for others” or something along those lines. I’m not sure if it’s just people that are lazy and don’t want to get up and down, or don’t want to deal with kids or what. We see a portly kid named Charlie come up to such a house, the house of his Principal, Mr. Wilkins. Of course, Charlie thinks he’s just gonna take all the candy for himself, but Mr. Wilkins has a different idea. He begins to explain to Charlie that he needs to learn to respect Halloween, and the number one rule is always, “check your candy!”. Suffice it to say, things don’t go all that well for greedy little Charlie and now Mr. Wilkins has a body he’s gotta get rid of. While Mr. Wilkins is trying his hardest to get rid of the body, he gets a constant string of distractions and things in his way, including his son, Billy, who needs some help carving his Jack-o’-lantern. Pay attention to Mr. Kreeg, the neighbor, and everything that’s going on with him because this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.
2. Surprise Party - This one stars Rogue herself, Anna Paquin, as Laurie, an extremely shy and self conscious girl. Along with her sister and a couple of friends, who are all dressed up as fairy tale characters, she reluctantly gets stuck as Little Red Riding Hood. While walking through town, she sees a mysterious vampire in an alley, who bites the neck of a girl, who stumbles away dazed, but no one helps her because they think she’s just some drunk partier. Intrigued by this stranger, Laurie tells her sister that she’ll meet up with them at the party later. So everyone is gathering at a bonfire in the woods, and Laurie is walking all alone down this dark, spooky path, hearing every little creak, afraid someone or something is stalking her. It’s the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood (obviously) but with a very unique spin on it. This one you just gotta watch unfold!
3. Halloween School Bus Massacre - This is one is definitely the darkest of the bunch. We meet a group of kids out scouring for candy, and they stop at Rhonda’s house, who is what they refer to as an idiot savant. They gather up a bunch of pumpkins and head to an old abandoned rock quarry, which we learn was the site of a horrible accident 30 years ago. There was a school bus with a group of 8 severely mentally disturbed kids, so bad that they had to be chained to their seats. All of the kids parents, tired of the hassle and embarrassment of their kids, pay the bus driver to restrain the kids and drive the bus over the ledge, into the water, to make it look like an accident. While checking their restraints, one of the kids gets loose and accidentally shifts the gears on the the bus, sending it off into the water by accident, driver included. Supposedly, the driver survived but was never heard from again, and the town didn’t even care enough to recover the bus. So it’s a Halloween tradition to bring 8 Jack-o’-lanterns and leave at the water, as somewhat of an offering. And what starts out as a mean spirited prank by some mean kids actually turns into something a little more serious.
4. Meet Sam - Remember our neighbor from the first story, Mr. Kreeg? This last story centers on him and Sam, our little hooded trick or treater. This one I’m not even going to tell you anything about because it’s the best of the entire film, and the absolutely least you know, the better you’ll enjoy it. It has so many twists and turns and ultimately ties everything up in a nice, bloody bow.
If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve been deprived. It came out back in ‘07, I think, and if I’m not mistaken, it was thrown out straight-to-DVD after having been made and put on the shelf for a couple of years, which is mind boggling to me. If I were the head of a movie studio, and had something like this, I would have marketed the hell out of it, gave it a huge Halloween theatrical release, and then you could have a new one every year or every other year. There’s been a sequel in the works for a few years now, and it can’t come soon enough. I know it sounds like hyperbole when I talk about this movie, but my God, just buy it. Don’t rent it, don’t download it, don’t watch it on YouTube, go buy the DVD or Blu-Ray to support it, and become one of the throngs of fans who have turned this into the cult phenomenon that it’s become. In a perfect world, this would be the kind of movie that EVERYONE sits and watches on Halloween. It’s simply perfect for the season and I can't recommend it highly enough.
“Trick r’ Treat” gets 10 chocolate covered razor blades out of 10!