Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trick 'r Treat

By s. Saturday, October 22, 2011 , , , , , ,
(82 min, 2007)
Plot: Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty
Stars: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Dylan Baker

 Tricks are for kids

Halloween, Samhain, Hallow's Eve.
The most magical day of the year when the line between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. Halloween has magnificent traditions that have been cultivated for centuries - dressing up, scaring people and of course - trick or treating. "Trick 'r Treat" not only captures the atmosphere of Halloween but also does the rare trick of being both good horror movie and good comedy.

We get to see all of the most famous traditions - carving of pumpkins, getting dressed in either scary or slutty costumes and giving kids their candy. Since it's a horror movie we also see obligatory guts and blood - it's definitely not a film for the squeamish as it has a maneuver that I previously saw in "Hostel" and to this day it remains one of the worst things I've seen - cutting of one character's Achilles' tendon. There are also scenes that will remaind you of other films - the crawling severed hand brings "Addams family" to mind and the creepy prologue with scarecrows inevitably brought me back to that horrible afternoon I was freaking out while watching "Jeepers Creepers".

One of the best things about the film is the main monster - the spirit of  Halloween incarnated in the form of a child with pumpkin for a head. That spirit ensures that everybody honors Halloween's traditions and if they don't...well, there is a bloody trick coming. There are four separate stories in the movie, each containing fair amount of scares and laughs and just the right level of gore and creepiness. Something that distinguishes "Trick 'R Treat" from other productions is that writer/director Michael Dougherty doesn't abscond from something not many would do - killing children on screen. But as Halloween is the most fun for the kids it's probably the best  and the most effective scare in the movie - I myself would never let my child go trick or treating alone in the evening on the scariest day of the year.

Other stories also have monsters - some of them are well known in culture, some of them are common - humans simply killing people. The fun thing about the film is that much like with "11:14" there is a great diversity of characters and although they are idiotic and sometimes annoying you really don't want something bad happening to them. Group of four friends dressed as Disney princess or group of kids being mean, because well, that's what the kids do - you don't want to see them hurt. And when their stories come to an end, rest assured, something unexpected will happen.

The cast includes Anna Paquin in surprisingly sexy role in which not only she's a lot of fun but she does something she never accomplished before - she is not irritating, Brian Cox in a homage for John Carpenter and Leslie Bibb who in "Scream" fashion as a pretty blonde dies as the first character in the movie. The film has terrific twist and the amount of Jack O'lanterns alone makes it very atmospheric and a perfect movie to watch on October 31st. The cinematography is lovely and the whole film is covered in darkness and shades of orange, there is a great school bus sequence that proves that even in full day light some things stay just as creepy as during the night. And there is Marilyn Manson's cover for "Sweet Dreams" playing in the film's most amazing sequence. Some say it's overused but I think when the song is that sexy and creepy, you can't use enough of it.

If you are having a huge horror marathon on this year Halloween "Trick 'r treat" will be perfect to see in between hardcore horror movies, the one with either ridiculous amount of horrific gore or somber, depressing atmosphere. It will be a perfect piece between, let's say "Carrie" and "Eden Lake" or "Martyrs" and "The Descent". It's not as spooky as "Drag me to Hell", not as campy as "Scream" and not as funny as "Shaun of the Dead" but it certainly captures the spirit of Halloween the best. Because let's not forget - that day is not only abut getting scared and telling horrifying stories - It's also about having fun and smiling, just like those adorable carved pumpkins do.

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