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Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Written and Directed by Michael Dougherty

   Can we all agree that Halloween is the best Holiday of the year and simply move on? Sure, at Christmas you get gifts and for Thanksgiving you get to stuff your face until you pass out. But those who truly love Halloween, or rather Samhain, know it’s more of a lifestyle choice above anything else. It’s the reason we spend a ridicules amount of money on a costume we wear for only a handful of hours. Or why we go to the trouble of setting up elaborate pranks as a means of scaring someone right out of their skin. The trouble being that as the years go by, it seems fewer people actually get into the holiday like I can recall from my childhood. So I was all in favor of hearing about “the quintessential Halloween film,” despite it’s release being put off two years and a straight to DVD launch. Because that’ll happen to a few gems that take a while to be noticed. However I did ultimately feel as though this film may have received a bit more credit than needing. But before I get too ahead of myself…

The film is an anthology of sorts as we focus on four stories intertwined within the small town of Warren valley, Ohio. Originally based on a short film the writer/director created in 1996 that became popular once tossed around to different outlet stations. Though the number of stories seems to be debatable as I’ve noticed some insisting on there actually being five while others swear to only three (if connecting two that are relevant to the other). Because if anything, with the way the film begins and ends, I viewed that short tale as more of a Prologue/Epilogue.

~Principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker): Who leads a double life as a serial killer. But had me wondering if simply a seasonal killer because of his not so secretive biddings. If not then I’m sure he would have been caught already. Having passed on what sadistic knowledge gained to his younger and smart aleck son Billy, who we can assume will follow in Daddy’s footsteps eventually. Though meeting his fate later in the night as his story collides with a girl in search of her “Mr. Right.” (Ah crap, sometimes I speak in rhyme)

 ~Laurie (Anna Paquin): Traveling with sister Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith) and fellow friends, they visit the town in hopes of picking up some new costumes as well as some fresh meat. Though their story would appear of a different tale at first, the sad fact of the matter is once they’re found out, is painfully obvious from the get go. I mean, really obvious. Besides their playful remarks about Laurie’s costume; huffing and puffing if she didn’t exit the dressing room. Danielle states how their mom always referred to her as “the runt of the litter.” Or the otherwise vague nature of a friend claiming to have eaten some bad Mexican-not food, just Mexican. And that being with a girl didn’t matter in that “they all taste the same to me.” A little overkill actually. Although I did rather like the transformation scene. As Marilyn Manson only provides good tunes to “strip” to. Certainly the pick me up the film needed and each of the girls looked wicked in the make-up.

 ~Cranky Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox): Neighbor to Mr. Wilkins and way past the point of caring about silly traditions in a town he wasn’t too involved in to begin with. Though his current crime was in not dishing out candy for the trick-o-treaters. Maintaining a secret past that he had tried to run from ever since occurring. Eventually getting in the only hands on conflict with Sam and surviving. Though meant for harsher punishment as his past would finally catch up with him. Transitioning into one other story as it involved that very hidden aspect he had been running from all along.

 ~Three children decide to play a terrible joke on Rhonda (Samm Todd), one of the few kids who respected Halloween for all it’s tradition. Retrieving 8 pumpkins around their neighborhood with the sole and malicious intent on scaring Rhonda beyond comprehension. Taking her to a cliff in which held the town legend; 30 years old. An incident had occurred in which eight parents decided that they couldn’t care for their “damaged” children any longer. Gathering what money could to pay off the bus driver to get rid of them. But when it wasn’t seen through as planned, the bus went over the cliff along with the kids and barely made his escape, however was the sole survivor. Living a life of solitude ever since and putting the Holiday out of his life as only a reminder of his wrongful mistake.

I mean, to even state that this is the best compilation film received in years seems unnecessarily stated. Because it’s not as though we receive these that often to begin with. So in that sense I suppose I would have to agree. I did enjoy the array of Actors seen in the film as they were all fitting and rather funny in their selected parts. Which I didn’t see coming though the film is marked as a Comedy. As well, I enjoyed the character of Sam who became a sort of mascot for the Holiday. Watching over everyone in order to ensure they all followed the rules of the evening. Including keeping your Jack O’ Lanterns lit, always checking your candy, bewaring of strangers and most importantly, not pissing off the Halloween Gods as a general rule of thumb. Because it doesn’t seem that they are as forgiving as your old Saint Nick. Overall though, Trick ‘r Treat is a really fun film that puts some spirit back into the Holiday. A couple cheap thrills here and there but nothing outright scary. Just a nice change of pace on the way we can all view a favorite time for the lot of us.