dir. Michael Dougherty
Because of their fragmented nature, anthology pictures are frequently hit and miss. Inevitably, certain segments will be much better than others. Although all movies are full of good and bad scenes, traditional narrative fare can get away with having some clunkers. If the over-arching narrative is good enough, a mediocre scene can be forgotten. Anthology pictures don't have that luxury. Since each piece is stand-alone, a weaker segment is more likely to stand out. Even Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, which undeniably has some of the greatest sketches that this comedy group created, is weighed down by a few noticeable duds. In Michael Dougherty's feature length horror anthology film debut, Trick 'r Treat, attempts are made (to varying success) to narratively connect the disparate horror stories presented.
The four stories included in the film are: Dylan Baker as a high school principal who gives young trick 'r treaters poisoned candy [Jeez, although he is really good at these, I hope Baker can break away from the creepy motherfucker roles.]; a group of children travels to an abandoned quarry, the site of a famous town urban legend, to play a prank; Anna Paquin plays a "virgin" who joins her group of party friends in the woods to get her rocks off for the first time; and Brian Cox plays a child-hating curmudgeon who learns the true meaning of Halloween [easily the best sequence].
To connect the stories, some characters and actions, featured in the background of earlier scenes, will show up later in the film. Although sometimes clever for the sake of being clever, these connective tissue segments are genuinely a delight—bringing certain certain pieces an interesting new perspective when revisited later.
Dougherty also gets props for creating a genuinely beautiful, though creepy, looking pic full of vivid colors and lovingly detailed sets. Although none of the stories in his film are terribly original, it is clear that Dougherty put a lot of care into the look and feel of his picture.
Trick 'r Treat plays like a Halloween urban legend/ghost story greatest hits compilation. Sure, we know how everything will play out but it sure is fun to see it all again (the conclusion of the Anna Paquin segment did genuinely surprise me, though). Trick 'r Treat doesn't produce a lot of scares (though the Dylan Baker segment sure is creepy), but it generally hits all the right notes. Creepshow it ain't, but Trick 'r Treat certainly gets an A for effort.
Incidentally, Trick 'r Treat was initially slated for a theatrical release only to be shelved for a couple years and then dumped onto DVD. I honestly have no clue as to why the studio did this. Although not one of the greatest horror flicks, Dougherty's film is an undeniable treat for horror lovers. If we're going to get bombarded with umpteen Saw sequels a year, surely, we can also be treated to lovingly crafted traditional scare flicks such as Trick 'r Treat.