31 Days of Hell: Trick R Treat - Reviewed (2007)

An anthology of four cautionary tales about the dangers of ignoring All Hallows' Eve tradition, Michael Dougherty's first feature film, Trick 'r Treat is an instant Halloween classic that delivers a refreshingly smart horror comedy that is a tribute to the costumed season and a dark satire of the current state of the horror film genre.

Every piece of Trick 'r Treat is held together by Sam, the supernatural guardian of Halloween beliefs. The intro story involves a woman paying the price for blowing out a jack o' lantern on Halloween night. The first chapter involves a murderous familial lesson on the intricate art of pumpkin carving. The second story involves the consequences of pranking the unsuspecting, while the third one is deals with dangerous sexual themes that ever present within the genre. The last story is the most fun, using an ultra-violent confrontation as a means to communicate the importance of the film's title, while tying everything together.

Dougherty's script is a bloody love letter to sppoky season, creating an enchanted mythology around the burlap sack headed Sam, the constant arbiter of horrific custom. The Midwestern location enhances the idea that these tales could happen in any American town, while also pointing at the commercialism that has enveloped the good-natured spirit of virtually every holiday. The characters within the film use Halloween as an excuse to transgress upon themselves and their neighbors. Teachers have debauched bacchanals while passing out candy to students, scores get settled, and above all carnage is king, with the corpses of pumpkins littering the streets. The idea that Halloween is simply a night to dress scantily and act appallingly is explored and exploited, which each tale focusing on a different aspect of both the holiday itself and our interpretations of it. Dougherty's ending is the final argument, a slick refutation of the repetitive nature of the American calendar, which often leaves Halloween in the wake of premature tinsel and turkeys.

Glen Macpherson's cinematography has a home video feel that is right at home with the themes on display. Most of the horror is comedic, but Connie Parker's make up effects, particularly in "Surprise Party" deliver some genuine thrills. Trish Keating's costume design, especially for Sam is outstanding in its ability to make the mundane frightening and memorable. Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, and the always solid Brian Cox each star in a segment, with Cox's Halloween grump stealing the streetlight due to a hilariously madhouse performance.

Available now for digital rental, Trick 'r Treat is essential Halloween viewing. If you are a horror fan, or simply someone who is in love with the idea of what the holiday represents, see this film as quickly as you can. This is a labor of love whose passion for the month of October cannot be denied as it pervades every inch of Trick 'r Treat's blood slicked streets.

Remember…always check your candy before eating...

--Kyle Jonathan