Last week when scouting the new DVD releases my eye fell on this one. The cover image suggest some sort of slasher set during Halloween. That turned out to be partially true as Trick ’r Treat is a movie consisting of five separate stories all tied to each other because they happen on the same night in the same town. So while seeing five stories you’ll soon realize characters popping up in multiple segments. Basically a mosaic movie for the horror crowd, or Pulp Fiction for that matter.
The five segments are interwoven and the movie jumps back and forth in time. These segments contain: A young couple finds out what happens when they blow a jack o‘ lantern out before midnight, a college virgin is searching for someone to take to a very special Halloween party, a group of teens play a prank on the bullied kid that they take too far, a high school principal turns out to be a serial killer, and the elder Mr. Kreeg is visited by a Sam, a character comparable to Fred Krueger. Now as a disclaimer I must add that you can count even six or four stories if you count a story within a story as an extra or the Jack O‘ Lantern sequence with Sam as a part of the Mr Kreeg-story who is also visited by him.
This movie got pretty good reviews but unfortunately I don’t have the same opinion. While displaying a very good cinematography the movie felt incomplete. There are a lot of stories scrambled into too short of running time making the stories shallow and empty. Supernatural stuff happens but there is no explanation as to why it happens. We’re just expected to go with it. I liked the character of Sam, but other than a segment he is a background character popping up in every story. Now the character of Sam is a prime example of this movie’s incompleteness. Early in the movie he is presented as a Michael Meyers-like character. Stalking victims and killing them. It is mentioned that he is the embodiment of Samhain a.k.a. Halloween. In a segment revolving around him and an elder victim whom he terrorizes it is not precisely clear why he is doing this but I think it was because something this elder person did decades ago. He does not kill this person off but does do just that with a person who was seemingly innocent and had just the misfortune of being in her garden all alone. This makes Sam’s motivations quite unclear as he’s not punishing people apparently. Now I must confess that I was not aware of the fact that blowing out a jack o‘ lantern before midnight is against the rules. So we’ve got this cool looking character with no real back-story and no motivation. Strip away the drowning of Jason or the burning of Freddy and you have nothing left but a dumb blunt murderer. Motivation is everything and there has to be at least some explanation.
For a small horror film it does have some high-profile casting. Character actors Dylan Baker and Brian Cox turn up although I didn’t quite instantly recognized the latter. Anna Paquin, of X-Men fame, turns up as a virgin girl running around in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit. She is in the segment in which 4 young hot girls in fairy tale outfits are picking up guys to go to a Halloween Party. The acting is average of the entire cast, even though Baker and Cox turn in better work than the rest of them. But Cox doesn’t chew scenery here, something he is so well capable of. Baker is his slimy self again, and his character is comparable to that of his role in Happiness.
Trick ’r Treat felt incomplete, unfinished. Five stories in 80 minutes of running time is kinda short and thus the movie could’ve been much better if it was expanded. Now characters have almost no background and we don’t really care for them. The movie did look very good and captured a very nice atmosphere that suits the holiday perfectly. Even if the movie didn’t grab me by the throat I did love looking at it.