Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick 'r Treat (2007)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

Trick ‘r Treat is a horror anthology film, and characters from different storylines interact with one another every now and then, so I’ll do another separate synopses and my thoughts after each one breakdown review. Trick ‘r Treat is set on Halloween night in the small town of Warren Valley, Ohio, and the story follows various residents in Warren Valley, who encounter a series of bizarre and supernatural disturbances throughout the night. And yeas, this step by step synopses/breakdown of Trick ‘r Treat is in chronological order.

Intro- Emma & Henry

Emma (Leslie Bibb) “hates” Halloween, but her husband, Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) is a devout believer in Halloween and the traditions attached to the holiday. After a stroll Warren Valley’s annual costume parade, Emma pushes Henry to remove all the decorations before her mother arrives for a visit. Henry warns Emma about breaking the sacred rules during Halloween night, and Emma learns her lesson the hard way, when a tiny enforcer/demon named Sam (Quinn Lord) decides to teach her a lesson she’ll never forget.

My Thoughts:
Shocking. That’s the one word I would use to describe this storyline. This was a GREAT opener for Trick ‘r Treat, and the image of Emma’s demise is more than capable of pulling a reaction out of you. You knew something bad would happen to Emma after she blew out the candle in the jack-o-lantern, but it wasn’t so easy to predict the severity of her punishment. Sam’s plan? After Henry takes some time to watch a dirty movie inside, Sam waits for the right moment to attack Emma, while she’s alone. Henry awakes from his nap to find Emma crucified as a scarecrow. Limbs dangling, Halloween lights wrapped around her body, blood everywhere. It’s a real nasty sight. This opener sets the tone for Trick ’r Treat, because you know you’re about to see a movie with some sick and twisted stuff, and more importantly, this opener establishes Sam as a lethal threat.

Principal Wilkins

Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) is the town Principal for Warren Valley’s elementary school. Steven lives alone with his son, Billy (Connor Christopher Levins), but unbeknownst to other Warren Valley citizens, Steven lives a secret life as a cold-blooded serial killer. For his first victim on Halloween night, Steven poisons young Charlie’s (Brett Kelly) candy, but Steven runs into some problems during Charlie’s burial in the backyard.

My Thoughts: Dylan Baker is an ideal choice to portray the nerdy and quirky outcast, but there’s a dark side to his character here. Steven receives a dose of his own medicine later on, but there’s a genuinely surprising twist here. Throughout the early stages of Steven’s story, Bill constantly badgers Steven into carving a jack-o-lantern. When Steven is finished with Charlie, Steven accompanies Billy to the basement, so they can start on the jack-o-lantern together…but Steven and Billy aren’t carving a pumpkin. No, they’re carving Charlie’s severed head. And Billy puts an extra effort into carving out the perfect eye holes.

Another good swerve. Two thoughts ran through my mind after the first time. 1. Billy’s going to discover his dad’s secret, and freak out. Or 2. You know, Billy carves out a normal jack-o-lantern from a pumpkin. Steven teaching his own son how to kill, dismember, maim, and torture helpless victims? Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming.

Scavenger Hunt

Led by Macy (Britt McKillip), Chip (Alberto Ghisi), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara (Isabelle Deluce), and Rhonda (Samm Todd) take a trip to an abandoned rock quarry to test the limits of an old legend. Years ago, after receiving a collective payment from their parents, a school bus driver was ordered to murder eight mentally ill children by driving the bus into the quarry head first.

Although, before the bus driver hit the gas pedal, one of the eight chained children escaped, and drove the bus off the cliff. The bus sunk to the bottom of the quarry, killing the eight children, and the bus driver mysteriously disappeared after the incident. Throughout the years, this tragedy was dubbed the School Bus Massacre.

Macy has plans to summon the zombified versions of the eight children by collecting eight jack-o-lanterns, and using them as peace offerings for the children. But a harmless hoax takes a turn for the worst, when something unholy emerges from the depths of the quarry.

My Thoughts: As the leader, Macy is the “mean girl” in the group, so she decides to pull a prank on the geeky outsider, Rhonda. With Chip, Schrader, and Sara’s help, Macy tries to scare Rhonda with costumes resembling the eight children. Rhonda is frightened, but things go too far, when Rhonda bumps the back of her head on a rock after a fall, but it’s not over yet.

Schrader puts a stop to the prank, because Rhonda is freaking out, but during Rhonda’s hysterical meltdown, the REAL School Bus Massacre children emerge from the lake. The jack-o-lanterns can protect anyone against the eight children, but Macy defiled the ritual by kicking a jack-o-lantern in the water. Rhonda locks herself in the only elevator that’s capable of reaching the top of the quarry, clinging to her jack-o-lantern like a hunk of precious gold. For revenge, Rhonda rides the elevator back to the top alone, leaving the rest of the group to suffer horrible gruesome deaths at the hands of the eight children. As Rhonda ascends to the top, she gives a cold and unapologetic wave good-bye.

Jaw-dropping stuff. After a while, you knew it was only a matter of time before the real  School Bus Massacre children showed up. But Rhonda abandoning everyone else? Yeah, it’s another Trick ‘r Treat twist that hit me like a slap across the face. It’s easy to feel sympathy for Rhonda, but her willing decision to let everyone suffer a painful end really caught me off guard.

Laurie’s First

At a young age of twenty-two, Laurie (Anna Paquin) is still waiting for her “first.” With some prodding from her older sister, Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith) and her two friends Maria (Rochelle Aytes) and Janet (Moneca Delain), Laurie agrees to attend a party deep in the woods with a wide variety of men for different tastes. But during the trip to her big night, Laurie is stalked by a masked man with fangs.

My Thoughts: With all the teasing and sexual innuendos, you’re lead to believe Laurie is about to lose her virginity, and she’s beyond terrified about the big night, but that’s not  the case. At the party, Laurie attacks her mysterious stalker. Here, it’s revealed Laurie, Danielle, Maria, and Janet are werewolves, and Laurie isn’t looking to lose her virginity, she’s looking for her first kill as a werewolf. If you’re jaw doesn’t hit the floor after Lauire’s revelation, then you’re apart of a tough, tough crowd.

Mr. Kreeg VS Sam

Living alone with his dog, Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) is a miserable codger, who loathes Halloween. Mr. Kreeg uses his dog and a glowing mask to scare trick-or-treaters into dropping their bags of candy at his doorstep, so Mr. Kreeg can have all the sweet goodies to himself. But Mr. Kreeg is stuck in a life-or-death fight, when Sam invades Mr. Kreeg’s home to punish the grumpy old grouch for his crimes during Halloween.

My Thoughts: Trick ‘r Treat set the bar high with the previous shorts, the film needed to end with a bang, and Mr. Kreeg VS Sam didn’t disappoint at all. During the fight, I seriously had no idea, who would come out on top, as Mr. Kreeg struggled to defeat Sam. It’s funny, because Sam constantly toys with Mr. Kreeg at first, but when Sam prepares to deliver the final blow with his pumpkin lollipop, Sam decides to walk away? That’s right. Sam uses his lollipop to remove and eat a candy bar from Kreeg’s chest, and he causally strolls out of the house like nothing happened. It’s a baffling conclusion, but everything changes, when some old friends (more on that later) from Kreeg’s past show up.

Summary: Director/writer Michael Dougherty packs a plethora of genuinely surprising twists into Trick ’r Treat, and he uses a smooth interweaving technique to connect the dots with each storyline. And more importantly, Dougherty never clusters everything together to the point where you get the feeling you’re watching a clumsy attempt to be too tricky failing before your very eyes. No, Dougherty carefully moves the pieces of the puzzle into place, and Doughtery’s is able to drop a layer of clever hindsight on each storyline.

A prime example for clever hindsight is Mr. Kreeg’s storyline. During the beginning, Mr. Kreeg insults Steven in his backyard, as he’s burying Charlie. Moments later, you see Mr. Kreeg BEGGING for help from Steven’s POV. To return the favor word for word with a cold shoulder, Steven responds with “Screw you,” and Steven walks into his house without looking back. After Steven leaves, an anonymous attacker strikes Kreeg. Later on during Kreeg and Sam’s fight, it’s revealed Sam was the anonymous attacker.

And Laurie’s First is my favorite storyline in Trick ‘r Treat. Dougherty’s set up for this twist was perfect. Laurie is strolling through the woods by herself. The masked stranger reveals himself as a vampire, and he bites Laurie on the neck. Seconds later, a body falls into the campfire party with Danielle, Maria, and Janet. You think it’s Laurie……but you see a terrified Steven. Steven posed as a vampire with fake fangs (earlier in the film, Steven murdered a young woman during the parade using the fangs), but in a shock, Laurie turned the tables on him. Steven was such a despicable and cowardly lowlife weasel, and he FINALLY got a taste of his own medicine in the end. Oh, and Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” was a nice fit as a background song for the nightmarish ambiance during this scene.

It might take some time, but I can picture Sam gaining a loyal fanbase, as the next true horror icon. Sam doesn’t speak a word in Trick ’r Treat, but his menacing presence casts a dark shadow over each storyline throughout Trick ’r Treat. And those who disrespect Halloween in any way, shape, or form, will suffer the consequences after learning an unforgettable lesson from Sam.

If you love horror and Halloween, Trick ’r Treat is a MUST-SEE. Most horror anthology films suffer one big problem: Inconsistency. Well I can tell you, Trick ’r Treat doesn’t suffer from this problem. Trick ’r Treat is loaded with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat, dark humor, bloody gruesomeness for the gore fiends, and enough spooky atmospheric tension to provide a handful of bone chilling moments. It’s a festive treat with everything any die hard horror fan could possibly ask for, and after one viewing, you’ll understand Trick ’r Treat’s strong cult following. I can’t wait for Trick ’r Treat 2!

Rating: 10/10

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