Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
  • Time: 82 min
  • Genre: Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Michael Dougherty
  • Cast: Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb, Anna Paquin


Five interwoven stories that occur on the same block, on the same night. A couple finds what happens when they blow a jack o’ lantern out before midnight, a high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer, a college virgin might have met the right guy for her, a group of mean teens play a prank that they take too far, and a hermit is visited by a special trick or treater.


  • Now Halloween is a tradition best enjoyed by members of the United States, yeeee haawww! However I’m English hoooo huummm, and have never even been trick or treating let alone carved out a Jack-O-Lantern, but what with ‘Halloween’ being my 3rd favourite horror flick, having a fondness for candy and dressing up in the bedroom, it could be right up my trick ‘r street!

    So it appears ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ had its fair share of issues upon initial release. Warner Bros had it mysteriously pulled from theatres in 2007 and left it on the shelves for two years, uncertain what to do with it. Director Michael Dougherty received help from pal Bryan Singer to get it back out on release in late 2009. Dougherty had penned the screenplay for Singer’s ‘Superman Returns’.

    ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ could be classed as a throwback to ‘Creep Show’ or the ‘Tales From the Crypt’ TV series, in that it’s a horror anthology, but this time centred around the traditions of Hallows’ Eve. The aforementioned ‘rules’ serve as the basis for each of the four interconnected stories. Careful people as Sam is watching, flaunt the rules and suffer the consequences.

    Need to do some homework first, so what are the rules of Halloween? I’m English remember.

    #1 Wear a costume
    #2 Pass out treats
    #3 Never blow out a Jack-O-Lantern
    #4 Always check your candy

    Story one – We start with Leslie Bibb, who fails rule number 3. Now becoming a horror fan in the eighties with Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers running a mock, it was by no small surprise that this story, both artistically and structurally, proved to be my overall favourite. In truth it gave me the bloody sheets. Dougherty showcases a much higher calibre of filmmaking talent in the later episodes but this just struck me straight to the core.

    Story two – This time Dougherty opens up the movies quirkiness as we see Dylan Baker kill, drag and attempt to bury our second hapless victim, who fails rule number 4, Comedy and horror can be a difficult mix but here we see what a deft touch Michael Dougherty has despite being a first time director. He’s not afraid to allow the camera to tell the story.

    Story three – Time to get weird with what can best be described as Little Red Riding Hood on acid. Four friends get dressed up for a party with particular attention being paid to Anna Paquin, who’s hoping to bust her cherry with a twist in its tail. The transformations were very interesting I must say.

    Story four – Not even sure If any of you guys are even still reading so I’ll be brief, bloke kills kids on bus, set up by their parents. Cliff, water, plunge (great tracking shot), death. Kids visit 30 years later and zombies, darkness, screaming followed by more death. Culminating in us finally seeing more of Sam who serves as the link to all four stories. I Loved the direct nod to John Carpenters ‘The Thing’, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding”. Is it because he also directed Halloween?. In fact we see a whole host of influences either referenced directly or certainly evident in its visual style and humour.

    I unfortunately read too much high praise before watching this film, I love the movies which clearly inspired it and even enjoyed its many twists and humorous turns, but I had gotten my hopes up a little too high. I can see how this film would serve as a great companion piece to the actual nights festivities, especially if you followed them closely, but we’re back to the being English thing. I’m not into Halloween enough to care for its mythologies. I also prefer my horror, humourless. Christ, I don’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs here do I? more like a small keg of giggles.

    Dougherty reveals some real talent and I am not sure why Warner Bros felt the need to pull it from theatres. Rumours of a sequel are in the offing and it’s since built up a cult following.

    Rating: 2.75/5 or 6/10 whichever you prefer!

  • The holiday of Halloween, “All Hallows’ Eve”, “All Soul’s Night” or whatever people prefer to call it is quite a lucrative holiday for all sorts of people. Retail stores and costume designers get a ton of money for selling their work to the international distributors. Plastic mold and makeup companies also receive lots of money because everybody loves to look wounded during Halloween for fun. These days however, not many of the newer generations were taught or understand of what Halloween was originally all about. For this comedy horror film, that’s more or less the idea of what the movie tries to get across to its audience. To have knowledge of the old practices and comprehend what they mean, what’s their purpose and whether or not you should follow them. The problem is, its execution needed to be better than what it is already set at. As writer for films like (X-Men 2 (2003)), Michael Dougherty disappoints as he debuts as director (and writer) to this compilation horror story.

    The plot is about five different interwoven stories that all occur on the same Halloween night, all of which have strange run-ins with other individuals. A school principle (Dylan Baker) has a desirable craze to harm “trick or treaters”, a couple briefly argue over whether after partying they should immediately take down the decorations, another group of “trick or treaters” (Britt McKillip, Samm Todd and a few others) set out to prank one of their friends, another group of party girls (Rochelle Aytes, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delainset and Anna Paquin) head out to find one of their friend’s the perfect match and lastly, an old man (Brian Cox) faces off against a very aggressive “trick or treater”. Unfortunately, Dougherty’s writing isn’t very strong when it comes to characters and it shows in his execution.

    For one, much of the main characters are thinly written with barely any development. Only a couple have a glimpse once or twice to display a background to a certain character’s history. Other than that, it’s all questions. Why does the principle enjoy killing so much? Who is this mystery “trick or treater” with the potato sack head? This does not mean the actors who star in this film don’t perform well though. They just suffer from a lack of depth. However for the rest of the writing, Dougherty demonstrates that he’s not fully incompetent. The film’s strong aspect is its connectivity. Most times when a film tries to recap on certain events, it misses points and forgets to show how various stories intertwine. Not here though, there are several areas to notice when it comes to seeing this. Also credit must be given for having some unexpected twists and instilling the main moral behind each story. Halloween spirits fight fire with fire. If anything, it should make each viewer that much more respectful of the holiday.

    Again though audiences will run into problems for other parts aside from the writing. Sadly for effective as it is with setting up the rules and informing its viewers what’s expected on the holiday, it really isn’t scary. There are a couple of jump scares and they don’t help but again there were creepy moments too. Those creepy moments were effective when they appeared. The scary component may not be as effective though because the film is part horror part comedy. Unsurprisingly, the comedy bits are only occasional too. There are some moments where the viewer may chuckle at how silly some characters act and the lines they say but it’s not fully dark in its comedy either. The gore is thankfully a plus. There are a couple of nasty moments that can make the skin crawl. The idea of hiding razor blades in chocolate bars are just gag worthy. I would never want to realize that after I took a bite. Trick or treating can be a dangerous activity.

    The cinematography is also well crafted. Handled by Glen MacPherson (Walking Tall (2004)), the camerawork ably moves to hide whatever Dougherty does not want his audience to see until its needed. This mostly goes for the connectivity for each plot thread that intertwines with each other. And like any film that recaps its story, it is done in such a way one will not have to sit and watch the exact same scene exactly as they saw it before. Instead, the scenes are shot at different angles to get a different perspective. Then there’s the film score composed by Douglas Pipes. Essentially, Pipes last name fits appropriately to the horror films he’s worked on. Pipe organs are not always used in his music but they are still associated with creepy/horror films. Aside from not having a main theme however, Pipes does include unsettling singular tunes brought on music box. This particular motif represents the aggressive trick or treater. It also sounds very similar to that of his previous work from Monster House (2006), which was a good listening experience.

    It’s too bad that a film like this that entirely focuses on Halloween’s lore and traditions that it falls short of telling a compelling narrative. It has good camerawork, story thread connectivity, violence, and music but it focuses too much on details. Thus although the actors perform decently, their roles are not that interesting. It’s not even that scary or funny for what it was originally trying to go for. It’s a mixed bag of treats.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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