Trick ‘r Treat is a delightful little Halloween thriller which combines five short stories related to Halloween, that run parallel to each other and often crisscross. One common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious child trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head. He makes an appearance in all the stories whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions. Let’s take a quick look at the stories before we move forward.
Emma (Leslie Bibb) and her holiday-obsessed husband, Henry (Tahmoh Penikett), have set up numerous ghost-scarecrows for Halloween in their yard, although she is mostly uninterested in Halloween. Emma tries to blow out a jack-o’-lantern, but Henry tells her not to because it is against tradition to extinguish a jack-o’-lantern on Halloween. She blows it out anyway. While Henry is inside waiting for Emma to take down the decorations, she is murdered by an unknown assailant,
A School Principal, Steven (Dylan Baker) who also happens to be a serial killer, goes about doing his dirty work after slaying a boy who was stealing candies from his house.Laurie (Anna Paquin), a self-conscious 22-year-old virgin, is getting ready for a party with her older sister Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith) and their two friends Maria (Rochelle Aytes) and Janet (Moneca Delain). Annoyed by their talk about boys, she stays behind and plans to join them later. As she is on her way to the party she is followed by a vampire. She makes a run for her life.
Four kids, Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader, Sara, and Chip meet up with Rhonda, a savant, and journey to the local rock quarry where Macy tells them the local urban legend of “The Halloween School Bus Massacre”. The kids then go on to play a mean trick on Rhonda which backfires terribly. Kreeg (Brian Cox), a Halloween-hating man, lives alone with his dog, Spite, as his only companion. Kreeg shows his disgust for Halloween by scaring away trick-or-treaters. While at his house, Kreeg is attacked by Sam (Quinn Lord), the same small boy in the orange footed pajamas who has watched over all of the events of the evening.
The film is entertaining for many reasons. First and foremost, each of the stories is absorbing. They are brief, to the point and don’t let you guess what they are up to. The trademark of an effective thriller is to not allow the viewers to understand what will happen next. That’s exactly what is done here. The film maintains a somber mood throughout and you have a feeling of uneasiness all the way as the story unfolds. There is no “jump out of your seat” scares but a constant feeling of fright which marks the screenplay. Out of the five stories the scariest of the lot is that of the four kids playing a prank on Rhonda. This happens to be the scariest because of the reason that it is the closest to the horror genre. The next best story for me was the one involving the two sisters going for a party. This story provides the biggest shock of them all. The story involving the serial killer interwinds with the story of the two sisters and is the next best thing.
The rest of the two stories are not bad but they lack the punch of the previous three. The films cinematography is brilliant. The mood of the Halloween, the Gothic splendor, the men dressed intheir weirdest best and the compositions which transpose horror to you are captured wonderfully. The background score is also apt for the occasion. The performances by the ensemble cast are good. Brian Cox and Dylan Baker have the meatiest of roles and they do well to make most of it. Cox comes to the prominence in the last act of the film while Baker starts off the proceedings in rousing style. Anna Paquin is a picture of beauty in her role as a confused girl. She is shot beautifully against the backdrop of the Halloween atmosphere. Her red dress is in stark contrast to the bright blacks and yellows of the festival.
Trick ‘r Treat is an amusing watch for it is able to engulf your senses in its narrative. The film was hold up for a long time and was released almost two years late. However, the viewer will not be able to find any traces of the decays that come with a dated film. The film had a limited release and yet received rave reviews and over the years has garnered a cult fan following. This is one of those hidden gems that you should see if you are looking for something different in the horror genre. I simply loved it.