When the words “Direct to DVD” are uttered, it doesn’t particularly instil confidence that the said film will be any good. Trick ‘r Treat is without a doubt the exception to that, and actually made me want to see more horrors that have been released for home viewing rather than a cinematical release.
Rather than having just one narrative, it has four Halloween related stories: The Principal, The School Bus Massacre Revisited, Surprise Party and Meet Sam. They aren’t told chronologically, and characters from other stories appear elsewhere in the film; simply put, it’s the Pulp Fiction of the horror genre. That’s not just referring to the way it all fits together: the script is sharp, with dark wit and interesting dialogue throughout.
I have deliberately given you little to no information on the plot, because the smallest piece would ruin it. There are countless red herrings and almost everything is not as it seems; each story takes a turn in a direction that you really wouldn’t have guessed when it started. One thing that does stay consistent in each is the presence of Sam, a mysterious and devilish trick or treater who can only be described as looking like Little Big Planet’s Sackboy wearing pyjamas. He is there to remind everyone about the traditions of Halloween, and punishes all those who break them.
The way I saw it, each story had a moral, which is similar to the old Creepshow movies and Tales From The Crypt. In fact, the whole movie seemed like a Halloween themed episode, even down to the magazine-like credits. It’s pleasing to see some originality in horror: there are many times that it could have taken the “stalk & slash” route, but instead it slowly approached the storylines and built them up for the ultimate pay off. That’s why it works so well: the whole thing plays out like a jigsaw that changes its image once you think you have the right piece.
Trick ‘r Treat succeeds where many others have failed: having a story arc that is both easy to follow yet requires all your attention. It never gets confusing, and some of the bridges between stories are genius. But most importantly, it does have moments of genuine terror. The School Bus Massacre Revisited was possibly my favourite segment due to the beautifully shot flasback, with fantastic use of colour to convey the emotion. But each story has its positives, and it’s unfair to say one is better than the other. The character design is insanely creepy for Sam, and one particular scene exhibits sublime special effects.
Undoubtedly the best Halloween horror since Halloween and one of the best horrors of the past 20 years, Trick ‘r Treat certainly offers more of the latter.