I know this is going to sound like a backhanded compliment, but I really didn’t expect Michael Dougherty’s TRICK ‘R TREAT to be as good as it was. Not only was this Dougherty’s feature directorial debut, but it’s a film that tells four different stories intermingled into one… for most this would mean instant disaster, for Dougherty it means instant cult classic.
TREAT takes place in an unnamed town during All Hallows Eve (Halloween) where four groups of people all have their own unique, yet terrifying story to tell. One follows Dylan Baker and his son who have too much fun with trick or treaters; then Anna Paquin and her friends lour a bunch of guys to the forest for a night of partying; all the while a group of kids are taking pumpkins to the site of a bus crash where the spirits of the dead are said to be haunting; lastly, an old-bitter man gets visited by a costumed boy who teaches him the seriousness of the holiday.
Dougherty has been trying to get this film off of his artwork and into theaters for a long, long time now… it was worth the wait. The best way to describe TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it reminds me of a live-action NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, or a film that takes place in the same world. The character designs are colorful, unique and completely unnerving, especially the final ‘creature’ who torments the old man. The gorgeous set design only added to the atmosphere of the film, really bringing this artists vision to life. Welcome to Michael Dougherty’s world.
Dougherty’s screenplay was extremely well written as the conversations were realistic and there wasn’t a single taste of cheese to be found… it was all sweet as sugar. Not only was he able to mingle together four intricate stories into one feature film (without breaking into segments like CREEPSHOW), but he also threw in homage after homage to some of our favorite old-school horror films (EVIL DEAD 2, THE THING). The only flaw was that this film was extremely ambitious, a tad overwhelming and confusing at early points in the film – but once things began to flow it was all cherry from then on out.
The film ends extremely strong and I could hear the audience really soaking it in; they were screaming, laughing, jumping, chattering and hooting as the final scenario unfolds. The audience is very representational of what type of film this truly is… in short, TRICK ‘R TREAT is F-U-N. It’s a trip back to the ‘80s when the goal was to excite and entertain, not torment you. Dougherty’s film is the type of movie you can bring anyone to, whether it’s a date or your kid. It’s not overly violent or too funny, it’s as Goldie Locks says “just right!” This is the type of film that will ensure you forget about all your worries and will captivate you until the very end (maybe even bring back the spirit of the holiday, which feels long lost).
With all sorts of uber-violent movies hitting theaters every October, this is the next MONSTER HOUSE, the horror film made for every single person who enjoys going to the cinema. And don’t count on seeing it only once, you’ll find yourself watching sucker until the day you die.