Trick 'r Treat

After Midnight, Creepshow, Twilight Zone: The Movie… The horror anthology took it’s last dying cinematic breath in the 1980’s and whilst the tradition lived on for a little longer on televison thanks to the success of Tales From The Crypt, the genre had all but died in cinema. But now the rotting corpse of the horror anthology is brought back to re-animated life with Michaels Dougherty’s Halloween offering, Trick ‘r Treat.

Trick ‘r Treat interweaves four tales of terror featuring all the classic creepies - vampires, werewolves, and monsters, including those of the human kind. Tying the stories together is Sam (Quinn Lord) our diminutive burlap sack-headed guide to the macabre who appears briefly in each story and like the cryptkeeper did in the HBO Tales From the Crypt episode ‘Lower Berth’, takes centre stage in the final story, seeking vengeance on a reclusive Brian Cox. Much like Creephow, the film takes it’s visual cues from the original EC horror comics of the 50s and the stories feel like they could have been taken from their very pages - a woman who hates the trappings of Halloween, a sinister school principal who has a plan for this years trick or treaters, a young virgin worried about her first time who gives in to peer pressure, a group of children intrigued about a local urban legend, and a tortured recluse who recieves a unwelcome Halloween visitor.

It’s credit to Dougherty’s writing skills that the stories in Trick ‘r Treat seems both fresh yet comfortably familiar and that he manages to so successfully intertwine the stories and not stick to the traditional chapter-style anthology storytelling. With standout performances from Paquin as a virginal plain jane with an undercurrent of smouldering sexuality, Baker as the high school principal with a secret, and Cox as the reclusive neighbour who carries a huge burden on his shoudlers, Trick’r Treat was virtually guaranteed to be a huge Halloween box-office success. Baker’s performance in particular was a revelation, starting out in his stereotypical funny nice guy ‘routine’ before turning the character on it’s head and suprising everyone with his depth and range. It’s staggering to see such a well-rounded and uniformally excellent cast in what is essentially a DTV horror film. I may sound like a broken record, but why this, like The Hills Run Red, hasn’t been released in cinemas - at least on a limited run - beggars belief. To steal a quote from Beware the Moon director Paul Davis, Trick ‘r Treat ‘is like watching Creepshow on the big screen for the very first time’. I’m sure that years down the line Trick ‘r Treat will be remember just as fondly …

Trick 'r Treat at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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