This is it folks, the most wonderful time of the year, the reason for the season, the greatest 24 hours on this god-forsaken rock hurling through space: it’s Halloween! For my final review, I’ve saved my all-time favorite Halloween movie for you:
On the last day of Halloween, the coolest horror anthology gave to me: Trick ‘r Treat,(Michael Dougherty, 2007)
Trick ‘r Treat is all about getting in the spirit of Halloween…even if by force. Tied together by the tiny hellish harbinger of Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat is a compilation of 5 stories: Each s a fun-sized morsel of Halloween goodness, all set in the same town of Warren Valley, Ohio on Halloween night.
Like I did with V/H/S 2, I’m going to go through each plotline individually, for your sanity and mine. Each of the stories weave in and out of each other and are not necessarily discrete in the film itself, but let’s just make this easier, shall we?
The first story is a brief little tale depicting the dangers of breaking tradition: married couple Emma (Leslie Bibb) and Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) return from a night of merrymaking, only to have Emma declare that she’s taking all of the decorations down. Henry warns her that it’s against tradition to take your decorations down before the end of the night, but the exasperated Emma refuses to listen. Fear not: a certain pumpkin-headed terror reminds her of how things are supposed to be done, in a very convincing manner.
This story is the shortest of the five, and basically serves to set the tone for the movie: don’t break the rules, and you’ll be just fine. It’s a fun little opening, but becomes forgettable in the face of the other four.
This is my favorite story. There is a pretty solid “twist” to this one, so I’ll leave it spoilers under a cut.
Shy, sweet Laurie (Anna Paquin) is bullied into going out with her older girlfriends, who are intending to score big time with the men of sleepy Warren Valley. These beautiful twenty-somethings from out-of-town are on the prowl, but not for sex. Laurie struggles to find a date to bring to her friends’ party, but ultimately ends up being just in time for the festivities.
The whole set-up is as though Laurie is supposed to be having sex for the first time, coached out of her shell by her more experienced older sisters. But the “date” she’s supposed to be finding isn’t for making sexytimes with: it’s her meal, because all of the beautiful women are a massive pack of werewolves.
THIS IS THE GREATEST MOMENT IN CINEMA HISTORY. I cheer like a sports fan every time I watch it.
I mean, let’s talk male gaze: the pack’s women are all traditionally beautiful and dressed super provocatively . The final scene shows them feelin’ on themselves and stripping onscreen to some good ole Marilyn Manson in front of the luminous glow of a bonfire. Typical male fantasy stuff, right? Well it all goes to hell in a handbasket as they start to rip their skin off to reveal fur.
Talk about a strip show.
A werewolf sisterhood is literally what my dreams are made of, and I will be eternally grateful that it was filmed.
Charlie (Brett Kelly) is the worst kid on Halloween: he’s an older boy who smashes pumpkins, refuses to wear a costume, and steals candy. He’s everything that Halloween isn’t, and local principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) intends to rectify that.
This plotline is pretty dark, and focuses on violence against a child.
Principal Wilkins is a child murderer. He kills Charlie for his disrespect, and helps pass on his serial killing ways to his tiny son, Billy. While very dark, the contrast between Steven’s domesticity and violence is darkly humorous. He’s a father who balks when his son swears, yet has been happily murdering children for years.
The Bus Massacre Revisited
A bunch of middle schoolers go around collecting jack-o-lanterns to bring to a quarry where several children were rumored to have been killed by a bus driver. Intending to trick the “weird” girl Rhonda (Samm Todd), ringleader Macy (Britt McKillip) leads her buddies down to the quarry. The first part of Macy’s prank goes off without a hitch: but as Halloween progresses, it becomes clear that the kids aren’t the only ones in the quarry.
Full disclosure: this short is about a school bus full of special needs children who are killed by their bus driver, who has been paid by the parents of the children to essentially “get rid” of the students. While the kids are painted as being initially innocent, they’re still totally treated as boogeymen and a threat.
Listen, I get this is a scary movie and bad things have to happen in order to make it “horror”, but this is a shitty plot. Disabled and/or neurodivergent kids/teens/adults already face enough social stigma and isolation; plotlines like this reinforce the fear and disdain said folks already experience. They are not burdens or fodder for scares. It’s the one point in Trick ‘r Treat that I don’t like, and as always, will not defend.
At any rate, this segment is basically Carrie for middleschoolers. Cute, popular kids play a nasty trick on the awkward loner, and it all backfires horribly for the perps. You feel positively awful for Rhonda, who is absolutely terrorized by these kids. It’s a tale of childhood cruelty that takes a dangerous turn, with bloody justice delivered.
Grumpy old Halloween scrooge Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) is adamant in his attempts to avoid celebrating Halloween in any way, shape, or form. Unfortunately for him, a deadly, pint-sized bit of “Halloween spirit” is headed his way.
This is the goriest of the stories, and has the overtone of a home-invasion thriller. There’s a box cutter slicing into an achilles tendon, broken glass in hands- some viscerally upsetting stuff. It’s also got a deep vein of dark comedy, so you’ll giggle as well as grimace.
…It also has a brief clip of Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.
So we began, and so we end.
Childlike magic coupled with a very adult set of themes
As always, some warnings: Some nasty gore, lots of vomiting, violence against children. Sex things. Brief violence against a dog. This is not a family movie, folks.
That aside, Trick ‘r Treat has the Hocus Pocus storybook aesthetic coupled with gory, spooky stories. It’s a brilliant combination that makes for a scary but fun movie, that is the perfect mood-setter for a Halloween evening.
That’s all, folks
And with that, tonight concludes my 31 Days of Halloween! To all those who have stuck with me, thank you! While I will be back on soon with some new reviews, I will be taking a brief break to enjoy the season.
I wish you all the happiest of Halloweens!
Featured image source: http://collider.com/trick-r-treat-halloween-movie/