There are a lot of great horror movies out there. I mean, I wouldn’t be writing this series if I didn’t legitimately believe that: but I believe in the simple, glorious pleasures of this genre enough to commit to writing a month-long daily series about its most shining examples. But let’s not get it twisted, folks, this here is a Halloween series. And there is a difference between a great horror movie and a great Halloween movie; Martyrs is a great horror movie. Fritz Lang’s M is a great horror movie. 28 Days Later is a great horror movie. Mike Dougherty’s unfairly-neglected Trick ‘r Treat is a great horror movie — and, gloriously, a great Halloween movie.
Horror devotees will remember seeing trailers for this little number popping up all over the ‘net a few years back; they’ll undoubtedly remember how excited they were to see it. And then, they’ll remember how upset they were that it never came to fruition, because Mike Dougherty’s glorious horror tapestry was dumped directly to DVD after languishing on the shelf for a couple of years. Do not let this fool you — I’m no apologist for awful straight-to-DVD movies, but this one deserved the chance to become the perennial horror classic it truly is. Trick ‘r Treat is drop-dead fantabulous.
Trick ‘r Treat is often described as a horror anthology. This is misleading; there are multiple tales contained herein, and they’re episodic in structure, but they’re tied together by a colorful cast of characters and an all-encompassing story arc. Think of it more as horror cinema’s answer to Magnolia, or perhaps Pulp Fiction. (Or, come to think of it, Sin City — it does utilize that film’s live-action-comic-book style to wonderful effect.) More importantly, Trick ‘r Treat encompasses everything that is magical — and terrifying — about Halloween: the eerie music, the costumes, the jack o’lanterns, the flesh-eating werewolves and deranged spirits of the dead. (That last part may not have been a crucial factor in everyone’s childhood.)
And it weaves all of these things together with an assured hand and a remarkable visual sense. Fog-swept forests are as foreboding as they should be; dank, shadowy rock quarries are terrifying places where ghostly spirits lurk; razor blades hidden in Halloween candy kills swiftly and gruesomely; behind masks and costumes could lurk anyone — or anything. It’s also a spectacularly funny film, in possession of a razor-sharp dry wit that echoes the self-referential rat-a-tat dialogue of Shaun of the Dead. Irony is swift and angry; vampires and serial killers and werewolves and vengeful spirits lurk in the night.
It is, indeed, the perfect Halloween film; the most perfect Halloween film of all time, in fact.
More 31 Days of Halloween:
Day 1: May
Day 2: The Night of the Hunter
Day 3: The Descent
Day 4: Night of the Demons
Day 5: Them
Days 6 & 7: Night of the Living Dead // Dawn of the Dead
Day 8: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Day 9: A Tale of Two Sisters
Day 10: When a Stranger Calls // Amusement
Day 11: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Day 12: The Orphanage
Day 13: I Know What You Did Last Summer
Day 14: Dressed to Kill
Day 15: Deep Red
Day 16: Jeepers Creepers
Day 17: Black Sabbath
Day 18: V/H/S
Day 19: Sleepaway Camp
Days 20-22: The Mist, The Shining, & Silver Bullet
Days 23-24: Splinter & The Host
Day 25: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Day 26: Ginger Snaps
Days 27-28: Tales From the Crypt & Creepshow
Day 29: The House of the Devil