Happy Halloween and also happy day thirty one of Horror Movie Marathon! It has been a wonderful marathon and I for one am extremely proud of this years selection. But it comes to an end and what would be a better way than to end it with a movie that best represents this festive day! I also understand that everyone is probably writing a review on this movie. But I’ve held it off for too long and have to recommend it. This is my two cents!
Trick ‘r Treat is a 2009 anthology horror film directed by Michael Dougherty and stars Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, Brian Cox and Samm Todd. The movie first started as a short animated Halloween greeting card called Seasons Greetings. A short story featuring the character Sam trick or treating on Halloween night. Dougherty then sought to make the movie into a feature length film. Originally the film was meant for a theatrical release but studios didn’t think it would garner enough reception and the film sort of hung in production limbo for nearly two years. The film was shot in Vancouver and then made its way through film festivals and airing on the FEARnet as a marathon. Multiple short clips would be made revolving around the “rules of Halloween,” all featuring Sam overseeing the events. Despite not have a major release the movie has become a movie beyond “cult followed” and ranks as one of the best horror anthology films of all time.
The movie remains in sequel limbo where talk of one has always remained in the deep ethos of internet horror fan chatter. In 2015 word was released that Dougherty would be making a new horror film but it would be a Christmas horror film called Krampus. The movie is completely awesome and quench the Trick ‘r Treat thirst. But a sequel is still in high demand. A comic book was made of the film and features a more in depth look of the history of certain Halloween events.
Just this year Michael Dougherty released The Ghoul Log: Trick ‘r Treat Sam O’Lantern which can be seen exclusively with Shudder. The The Ghoul Log is a one hour “screen saver” of a jack o’lantern. In the background is a house that has spirits appearing every once in a while. Fans of the movie will always notice moments of the movie being heard in the background. Showing that the entire film is technically shot on just one street of the neighborhood.
In 1978 the film Halloween would be released to theaters. Following on the backs of 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween would focus on the events of Michael Myers. A crazed masked killer that goes out and terrorizes a group of girls on Halloween night. The movie was originally titled the The Babysitter Murders but was changed to take place on Halloween night. The film was an instant success and would make more money than its predecessor. Halloween would go on to make multiple sequels and raise Michael Myers as a horror icon. It would also reign as the quintessential Halloween films!
For nearly thirty one years Halloween was known as the greatest Halloween movie… up until Trick ‘r Treat! Trick ‘r Treat is what I would call a love letter to the holiday. The film takes four main stories that all take place in a fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio. A town that takes the Halloween festivities to an entirely different level. Each story revolves around certain rules all people must abide by on Halloween.
- Always hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
- Always wear a costume.
- NEVER blow out a Jack O’Lantern before midnight.
- Always respect the Dead.
- Always check your candy.
- NEVER take down your decorations before November 1st.
- NEVER hurt the innocent
To break these rules can be a risky decision as the night is monitored by a watchful spirit called Sam. A monster posing as a trick or treating child. If you break these rules, he will kill sentence you to a painful death.
To me, Sam is the “Santa Claus” of Halloween and serves as the enforcer of the night where the ghost realm and the living are the closest. His job is to make sure the night remains pure and that the living honor the dead. Which is by all accounts the true meaning of Halloween. He poses as a child because the spirit of Halloween is youth and it is in youth that keeps the traditions alive and ongoing. But through his innocent exterior resides a fierce and terrifying creature that will betray your assumptions and make you suffer for your callowness. For every event that takes place in this town, Sam is always there as if his presence is supporting what is going on. Where he goes when the night is over? We will never know.
Trick ‘r Treat does what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th and Halloween all accomplished but much deeper… and better. It gives us a masked killer but making it a superseding entity. Something far beyond scary person that kills for shits and giggles. The deaths are meaningful because the night requires it. Like Cabin In The Woods, the movie revolves around ancient tradition that is governed by forces not of man. While Cabin In The Woods shows our offerings to the evil gods, Trick ‘r Treat says everything is beyond our control. As Mr. Kreeg’s story unfolds, it shows that whatever we do, the spooks and supernatural are the things that have the last say. All we can do is comply.
You see, this movie is also a letter to culture. Halloween just doesn’t feel the same anymore. I know this may sound like the old guy saying “it was better in my day.” But this is true! Halloween was better! Today we’re distracted by social media, politics, ourselves and our jobs! We don’t believe in ghosts and ghouls. The thing that goes bump in the night is scientifically explainable. Trick ‘r Treat is a film that makes classic celebration of the night seem fun but also very important. We may not be killed by some werewolves or some child monster, but we can lose ourselves and as a culture lack personality and depth. Some traditions seem stupid… and they are. But they are there to keep us sane and keep life a mystery! And that is what Trick ‘r Treat is, a mystery. Don’t lose that child wonderment and if you are old, encourage younger generations to do so.
To me this is the greatest Halloween horror film. Trick ‘r Treat is like a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup! It is full of rich and spectacular visuals and stories that you never want to forget. The atmosphere of Warren Valley reminds of small American towns and for many of us, make you want the older days. You bite into this movie and you’re hooked. It never grows old and it gives you something extra every time you watch it. The individual stories are all brilliant and tie in together in a way no anthology film has ever done. Sam is the glue that bonds each character and the entire movie builds suspense as to what he is and why he does what he does. The pacing is at a good speed that won’t confuse you. It all makes sense and leaves you glowing in delight. It’s full of brilliant acting with characters that will remain constant memories. Dougherty gives us a movie that pays homage to great horror films of the past. There is loads of blood and gore. The effects are real and there’s success in the puppetry in Sam and the pack of werewolves. There are just as many funny moments as there are horrific ones. That is why Trick ‘r Treat has been chosen as the final and last day of my Horror Movie Marathon! Happy Halloween everyone!