Well, welly, well. After years of hearing about it and finally giving up hope to see it, a sort of Providence intervened and an unexpected last minute trip later netted me a screening of once thought to be DOA flick, “Trick r Treat.” The tragedies that almost fell to keep this movie from being seen are too numerous to explain. One quick fact may lead to some idea of its rocky road: The original release date was to be October 5 2007 – two years before its actual release date this year. It was a rough road and a long wait for those of us that got wind of the movie early on.
The structure of “Trick r Treat” is similar to Creepshow or Twilght Zone: The Movie. There are five intertwining stories shown out of chronological order – each dealing with a rule of Halloween. The rules are familiar modern Halloween mythology: Wear a costume; Always check your candy; Never blow out a jack o’ lantern; Hand out treats. One of the stories presents two rule failures while another seems to not deal with the rules at all. It would not be fair to describe any of the stories in detail. There is no real mystery, but part of the immense fun of the film is to watch as each story unfolds without knowing what is going to happen. The stories include tributes to some of our most popular Halloween entities such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, serial killers, creepy town legends, and supernatural monsters. Some of these favorites don’t play quite like one would expect and the movie has enough surprises and misdirects to keep each of piece of this Halloween tradition montage fresh and extraordinary fun.
Anna Paquin from the X-Men movies and HBO’s True Blood is probably the most familiar face in the movie. Her story, as each of the stories in the movie, is excellent, however fans of her “True Blood” series may take particular delight.
Overall the movie plays in the right key with each element. The parts and the sum are each meticulously crafted without a single sour note and builds up to a fantastic movie. There has never been a Halloween movie similar to this in that “Trick r Treat’ panders exclusively to the Halloween experience specifically in the United States. Each story and theme are from our experiences out of childhood and the fear of what lurks in the dark, what’s waiting in alley, or if it were true, what would happen?
The cinematography and pacing of the movie are both superb. At only 82 minutes the stories build and conclude with a tight narrative evocative of tense fear and expectation that whatever happens next is going to happen fast. The film uses a dark canvas but plays around with rich saturated colors. Each shot is set as if it was a Saturday Evening Post tribute to Halloween Americana from Norman Rockwell. The effect also reminds one of the bright and colorful pageantry of Halloween and the richness of our memories of being young and excited and scared.
It appears that the fate of “Trick r Treat” is sealed. It is not going to get wide theatrical distribution and will only be playing at a handful more film festivals. But if anything is right in our pop culture, this movie will live on indefinitely in DVD rentals and purchases. The movie is absolutely destined to be a mainstay in DVD players across our land during the Halloween season or anytime that one wants a fun jolt and journey back to when we could be scared and those magical – scary – wonderful things of which we are frightened.