Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #7 Trick R' Treat

Yesterday in their infinite wisdom, Warner Brothers released Trick R' Treat direct to DVD. This after three years of playing the release date mambo. Three years of previewing screenings so rabidly positive that they’re legendary. Yes despite all this Warner Brothers still couldn’t figure out a way to dump it in the theaters so in an effort to prove that they don’t have any brains at all, they’re releasing it direct to DVD. With no support. Three years late. Just to make sure that all the momentum has dissipated. Hey Animal Mother what do you think of this?

My thoughts exactly.

The sad fact is that studios seem scared shitless of original horror. Unless it has a roman numeral of IV or higher it’s not going to make it into the theaters, and even then it’s probably not going to get treated right. Why is a mystery. Guys remember this? It did pretty well despite the fact that it wasn’t ripped off from some horror movie the target audience has never heard of before. Thank Christ for Zombieland, because if I had to deal with Trick R’ Treat after the flaming carcass of Jennifer’s Body at the box office, I might be in a padded room right now mumbling “Why did you sell it as a sex comedy?”

Well that doesn’t matter now because Trick R’ Treat is here, and it’s what we always heard it was. A fun modest little genre programmer, that’ll be a favorite for Horror fans for years to come. In a lot of ways its a lot like The Fog, the movie I chose to open this years 31 Days Of Horror. It’s not perfect, and in the end it’s a bit of shaggy dog story but it’s so much fun and takes such obvious pleasure in the story it’s telling that you can’t help but love it.

Anthology films are some of the hardest to do in any genre (We’ll be taking a look at some more later in the week) but there failings are a lot more noticeable in horror as the two still seem like a natural fit. It really only takes one bad short to drag an anthology film down. Fuck up and fail to engage your audience even for a section and the movie fails. Trick R’ Treat doesn’t fuck up.

After a short but effective intro in which we find out that the FBI agent from Dollhouse ain’t much against tiny crazy ass little demons. Following a great credits sequence that does Creepshow proud, we launch into the meat of the thing. The first segement, stars the great Dylan Baker, as a mild mannered serial killer who finds that killing and disposing of a nasty little porker is a lot harder then it should be. The second follows a group of kids who test out an old urban legend to their detriment. The third follows “twenty two year old virgin” Anna Paquin as the search for her first time takes her to some dark places. While the concluding episode follows Brian Cox and the demon from the first segment in what is basically a very hard R version of Home Alone. The four stories intercut just a wee bit too much for my taste, but given that they also subtly overlap I guess it's a necessary evil.

All the sequences work well. Balancing off their weaknesses, so even though the urban legend segment is based on an act of hateful bitchery that is almost unbelievable the atmosphere and scares more then make up for it. The Paquin segement is deliciously old school, you can almost hear the Crypt Keeper chuckling off screen in approval. The Cox sequence brings a bit of Raimi/Jackson Anarchy to things. And the Cooper segement gets things off on a nice perversely funny foot. Actually the whole movie displays a delightful and wholly unexpected sick sense of humor.

Doughtry directs with a strong hand, giving the film a very distinct look and tone. That’s the real word for Trick R’ Treat. Distinct. While so much of today’s horror blends together, this one stands apart instantly.


Wings1295 said...

I still haven't gotten my hands on a copy, but I am excited!

Will Errickson said...

Definitely agree! Didn't know it was in "non-release limbo" for three years.