Praised by fans around the world yet still unknown to the masses thanks to a slight from someone up the production line, Trick ’r Treat has been whispered about in the horror community since 2007, when it was originally scheduled for release. All the buzz built up over several delayed release dates culminated disappointingly a few weeks ago in a low-profile DVD release. That’s actually the perfect format for this film, however: I don’t think Trick ’r Treat would appeal to a wide audience.
Much like 2000’s Traffic, Trick ’r Treat intertwines the stories of four main characters — a virgin who may have met the man of her dreams, a grumpy principal who really hates children, a group of jack-o’-lantern-toting kids who have played one too many pranks, and a Halloween humbugger who gets a trick ’r treater he’ll never forget — but the multiple plots lines, while ultimately connected, can lose undisciplined filmgoers. Also the movie isn’t all that scary or gorey, especially in comparison to the recently terrifying Paranormal Activity or pulpy mess Halloween 2. But what this film does have is that licoricey Halloween smell. Trick ‘r Treat feels more like an exceptionally violent holiday TV special or a nostalgic reach for those fun ’80s horror flicks, like the cult film Creepshow. Fairly solid performances from True Blood star Anna Paquin (horrible Southern accent in tow), Dylan Baker (Spiderman 3, Revolutionary Road), and on-point character actor Brian Cox (Deadwood, X2) legitimize what was quite obviously a pet project for writer-director Michael Dougherty.
If you love campy horror or just want something light and fun on Halloween, this is a great film to invite friends over for. What else are you going to watch? Another Saw sequel? — Chrissie Thornburg