Con: Trick 'r Treat
On Thursday night, Comic-Con offered up a special treat for horror fans. It was in Ballroom 20, where a huge audience witnessed the horror anthology TRICK ‘R TREAT. After all, during a quick panel discussion held before the film, director Michael Dougherty explained that this time of year, when the masses meet for all things comic, movies and costumes was when Halloween really began. And I have to agree with him, August is right around the corner. It also happened to be a good time to give Anna Paquin a call on her cell phone and wish her happy birthday. Yes, Michael gave her a call, put his phone on speaker and let this huge crowd sing “Happy Birthday” to her. So clearly, there was not too much movie talk as most of us in the audience hadn’t seen the film, but the Harry Knowles moderated chat was entertaining as Dougherty, and cast members Brian Cox and Lauren Lee Smith talked horror.
After the final question was asked, the night brought us all what we were waiting for. The thing about Trick ‘r Treat is that even though I had watched the trailer several times, it was not exactly what I expected. There is a sense of fun and atmosphere that is so celebratory of Halloween that it is certainly addictive. I usually start decorating around mid-August myself, so this is a perfect way to start the holiday. So here we are, an anthology that is not only cleverly presented in sort of a PULP FICTION style of editing and storytelling, but it is also decidedly old-fashioned. The film is drenched in mood with a set design that is utterly beautiful for fans of that final day in October. The glowing pumpkins that decorated a creepy old man’s (Brian Cox) lawn, much to his dismay, was utterly brilliant. The same could be said about the opening sequence with the pretty freaky ghosts that stand at attention in a couple‘s front yard. My God! If my place was decorated this good, I would be the happiest ghoul on the block.
As for the story, it is truly good, old-school fun. There is a haunting element that presents itself as four stories are interwoven into a sweet Halloween treat. Now if you’ve seen the trailer, it is clear that the stories include a masked man stalking Anna Paquin, a creepy guy carving a pumpkin with a snotty red-headed kid, and of course, an old man being tormented by a little trick or treater wearing a sack over his head. This is all I knew about the film going in, but I felt that the trailer gave too much away. Well my friends, it didn’t. There is a ton of twists and turns that are nothing like most modern genre pieces, in fact, they feel more like an urban legend brought to life within the mysterious of the holiday. None of these twists will be revealed here because why spoil the fun. But yes, the trailer certainly hints at what is to come, yet never really gives anything away. Although with certain aspects of the film that involve not so politically correct deaths, I have to wonder if that is the reason for no theatrical release. The film as a whole certainly warrants one, and it is a shame most of you will have to be satisfied watching it on DVD.
In the end, I was enchanted by the visuals and the intriguingly haunting story. And as for the negative, I did feel that there was a little too much hype for the film. Surprising yes, entertaining yes, and possibly even one of the best genre entries in quite awhile. But not all my expectations were met, as there a few moments where the film loses momentum, especially in the mid-section. But it is hardly a major complaint, especially since the film is as incredibly well shot as it is. Yes, a new holiday classic is born, and it certainly will make a great companion piece to my other choice… you know, the one with Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Trick ‘r Treat makes it obvious why Michael wants to come home, with such a tantalizing take on Halloween in an innocent suburban town. Goblins, ghosts and witches and a William Shatner mask should make for an incredibly festive October 31st this year. My rating 8.5/10 -- JimmyO