I wanted to start my Halloween festivities on the right foot. Just after midnight as October officially starts; I put the disc for Trick R Treat in the machine. There will be many more horror movies viewed over the course of the month; old favorites brought out of mothballs, new DVDs that need to be reviewed and maybe even a Zombie movie from the VIFF for a podcast, but this is the way to set the tone for the next 31 days and do it in style.
Trick R Treat has a long and trying history. The movie was filmed, finished and even premiered at film festivals over three years ago (to rave reviews I might add) only to languish in the limbo of studio purgatory that simply wouldn’t give the film a theatrical release. Continuing to blow each promised video release date without fail, fans wondered if the movie was ever going to be released at all. On October 06, Warner Brothers will finally make the movie available on home video. There is much speculation as to why it’s taken so long and what the reasoning was for holding it back. Some believe that given Warner’s lack of related material, they simply got cold feet not knowing how to market a movie like this, but that hardly seems to make any sense. A company like Warner could have sold the movie or contracted other companies to market it for them. Perhaps a changing of the guard happened within Warner’s staff and the movie simply got lost in the shuffle. Whatever the real reason, it doesn’t matter, now the fans can reclaim the movie for themselves.
The Feature Presentation:
From the opening titles; a montage of comic book imagery, we’re put into the proper mindset. A somewhat connected series of stories in anthology style, Trick R Treat’s comic opener is reminiscent of Romero’s Creepshow title sequence. It’s really important to soak up the mood of the credits, since they will inform the tone of the rest of the movie. I might say that anyone not enjoying the credits might be getting up to leave soon afterwards. A comic book opening is perfect for this movie.
Directed by newcomer Michael Dougherty, the writer behind Brian Singer’s X2 and Superman Returns had his director friend produce. Although Singer’s name attached to the production couldn’t hurt, Dougherty’s first foray into direction is sound and accomplished. The movie sprang from an animation short (also on the DVD) and simply grew from there. His eye for composition and color are both exceptional and as long as we don’t give the cinematographer all the credit for it, Dougherty is deserving of a pat on the back.
Rich in deep orange, saturated by brilliant colors, every shot of Trick R Treat contains the very edge of unreality that makes the picture so charming. Nothing is taken for granted, no shots wasted and each individual moment heightened by wisps of smoke and impossibly falling leaves drifting through the air. Scores of choice musical cues ring through your ears; whether a soft and lonely melody ringing from the smallest bell or Marilyn Manson‘s sick and twisted guitars shredding your soul and gutting you while you watch, every nuance of Trick R Treat is relished and magnified. It isn’t often that a horror movie has been granted both the budget and the vision to achieve this level of soaking cinematic atmosphere. Even harder to believe is that a studio could sit on this unique film for years before unleashing it to the gnarly masses yearning to be freaked.
Not since Halloween has the holiday been so celebrated by one film. It’s almost a shame that John Carpenter didn’t choose to call his movie the Shape or Mike Myers Revenge so that the title were available here. Trick R Treat is like watching a werewolf movie and a slasher movie and an urban legend fairy tale all rolled into one sweet ride. Like the Pulp Fiction of horror movies, it contains all of the classic genre stories under one umbrella.
In one story Brian Cox is visited by the spirit of Halloween (represented by the icon of the film, Sam the trick-or-treater on the cover), to be taught to respect the holiday. In another story we get a kid’s urban legend of a bus load of disturbed children that go off a cliff and haunt the rock quarry where they died. Anna Paquin and her really hot friends, Moneca Delain, Rochelle Aytes and Lauren Lee Smith (all sporting lots of cleavage) are heading to a party, but are stalked by a predator. Let’s just say the party ends with unexpected results. There are two other stories, equally as fun, but I’m giving away all the milk if you’re not going to at least down load the cow yourself! Sufficed to say that both segments feature great actors. Dylan Baker and Brett Kelly (the retarded kid from Bad Santa) are the leads in one story while Tahmoh Penikett (who all fans of Battlestar will know as Helo) and Leslie Bibb are pretty much the only two characters in their segment. The stories entwine throughout the film and give the movie an organic and enigmatic feel. Although the run time is slight at an hour and twenty minutes, the movie has much to offer and leaves you satisfied.
Included on the DVD is an animated short that is accompanied by the director’s audio commentary; a nice addition to the disc but not in lieu of any other special features. Why offer a commentary on a four minute short and not on the movie itself? With such a controversial history to it and ravenous fans that have waited in the wings for this release, you’d think there would be more on the disc; probably the most disappointing part of the movie.
Graphic Novel Adaptation:
Given the opening to the actual movie, an actual comic tie in seems to be a logical step in marketing. Wildstorm comics released a graphic novel in the first week of October written by Marc Andreyko with art chores handled by Mike Huddleston, Grant Bond, Christopher Gugliotti and Fiona Staples.
Unfortunately, the book reads like a cliff’s notes version of the movie, a characteristic of most comic adaptations. There isn’t much more than a line added here and there to differentiate between the two versions. Given a little more creative freedom and the nature of the anthology style of the movie, there could have been much more they could have done here. It would have been nice to see new storylines weaving throughout that we didn’t see in the feature.
On the plus side, the four different stories also allow an organic reason for the four different artists, each one tackling a different story. The art is nice, but if you’ve seen the movie there’s really no reason to go read the book and if you’ve never seen the movie, go get it!