Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With All the Ghouls in Line, 'Trick 'r Treat' Captures Halloween Perfectly

Going right along with all the urban legend, folklore and tradition of Halloween comes the films we watch to celebrate the holiday. For 30 years, John Carpenter’s visceral 1978 slasher Halloween has been one of the most revered Halloween-themed horror films and a yearly tradition right along with the tamer It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

And now a film set to seriously challenge the champions of Halloween has arrived. Originally set to be released in October of 2007, Michael Doughtery’s Trick ‘r Treat has finally seen release via DVD and Blu-ray. Trick ‘r Treat is four interwoven stories all taking place on one Halloween night in a town that celebrates Halloween like no other.

The best thing about Trick ‘r Treat is how the film perfectly captures the spirit of the holiday it celebrates. In lush and eye-catching fashion the film recreates what we love and fear about the ghoulish night of Halloween. The film covers all facets of Halloween, including the annual celebrations, spooky local urban legends, those creepy next door neighbors, mountains of lit Jack-o'-lanterns and that friendly reminder to respect those Halloween rules and rituals.

Trick ‘r Treat can be best described to horror aficionados as the third Creepshow film we never received. The same fresh breath of air that was breathed into George A. Romero and Stephen King’s joint anthology horror project is alive and well in Doughtery’s film, someone who seems to be easily able to grasp the joys of the horror film. This is a fun-loving horror film.

When people call Trick ‘r Treat one of the better horror films they’ve seen, which I will, it isn’t because it’s scary. The film is far from being terrifying. But from the understanding that a horror film doesn’t have to be scary to the viewer comes the greatest appreciation of the genre and this film in particular. Doughtery’s film is a perfect blend of what makes the genre as great as can be. There’s a little bit of Sam Raimi-esque physical splatter horror, a new twist on the tales of werewolves and a dark humor-blended story about a principal that commits atrocities that wouldn’t go over well with any school’s PTA. This kind of mixture creates a film that doesn’t tire itself out from the same kind of device a typical slasher film or gore film might.

And part of the brilliance of the four interwoven stories penned by Doughtery himself are the overlapping ties between them, something you notice more and more of on second and third viewings of this film. The little things characters see, do or say not caught on a first viewing are picked up on repeat viewings. At a quick 82 minutes the film practically speeds by and because of this brevity is very easy and enjoyable to watch.

The other part of Doughtery’s film that I find most fascinating is his character Sam. Sam is literally our little reminder to follow and respect Halloween traditions. Donning a burlap pumpkin mask, Sam is the one constant tie to all four stories, and takes vengeance on those that disrespect the spirit of Halloween. And with that Sam represents more than just a piece of the horror, he’s that ideal memory of what Halloween is supposed to be, and another piece of the all-encompassing Halloween package that Trick ‘r Treat truly is.

While it won’t scare the pants off you, Trick ‘r Treat perfectly captures the essence of what Halloween is all about. I can’t imagine many horror fans not falling in love with this film. As long as enough people are able to see it, Trick ‘r Treat should become the Halloween classic of this generation. Michael Myers might just have to take a step back and let pint-sized Sam take his rightful place as Halloween’s number one masked character.

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