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Michael Dougherty
Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox
Writing Credits:
Michael Dougherty

Poison, Drowning, Claw, Or Knife. So Many Ways To Take A Life.

The doorbell rings, the cry goes out: Trick 'R Treat! But, wait. What's actually going on during this ghostly All Hallows Eve? Something eerie and unexpected. Something splattered and spooky. Something that brings ghouls, vampires and werewolves into the night. Answer the door – a shocking surprise awaits. From producer Bryan Singer and writer-director Michael Dougherty comes a multitale bag of wicked yarns, four cleverly interlocked stories built on Shocktober admonitions like always check the candy and don’t extinguish the jack-o-lantern before midnight. So answer the door now: Experience horror made for today's fright fan.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 10/6/2009

Trick ‘R Treat: Season’s Greetings Animated Short with Optional Commentary
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Trick 'R Treat (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 12, 2009)

Just in time for Halloween, we get a direct-to-video scarefest entitled Trick ‘r Treat. Rather than tell one narrative, the film provides four separate, interconnected tales. It launches with a quick pre-credit killing of a woman who cleans up her Halloween decorations before it jumps into the more extended tales.

From there, it jumps to earlier in the evening of October 31. Set in Warren Valley, Ohio, we meet a group of hot young women who come to town in search of a party. Three of them seem to be pretty slutty, but Laurie (Anna Paquin) remains a virgin. We see her attempts to alter this status – and the surprising revelations that come along the way.

Local principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) takes his Halloween traditions seriously – so seriously, in fact, that he poisons and kills a ne’er-do-well student (Brett Kelly) who fails to respect them. That seems to be his favorite tradition, as this isn’t his first slaying, and he follows up with more.

For another tale, we meet Wilkins’ neighbor, a crotchety old man named Kreeg (Brian Cox). He likes to scare trick-or-treaters and steal their candy. This comes back to haunt him.

Finally, a group of teens embarks on a mission to collect as many Jack-o-lanterns as possible. Why? To play a prank on an autistic girl named Rhonda (Samm Todd) – a prank that doesn’t end well for its perpetrators.

The anthology construction of Trick certainly isn’t original – heck, the DVD’s case even alludes to it following in the tradition of Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt - but that doesn’t mean it can’t still work well. Unlike Creepshow, however, Trick attempts to actively interconnect the various stories – and it throws in a little foreshadowing for the opening vignette as well.

Sometimes this technique works pretty well, especially when a few of the stories tie together in a surprising manner. However, the structure has flaws as well, primarily in the film’s first half. We lose track of some characters for far too long, so the flick doesn’t always balance them particularly well. For instance, Laurie goes absent for quite a long period, and the film fails to integrate the various tales in a consistently smooth manner.

I do admire the movie’s attempt to try something a bit more ambitious, though. It easily could’ve stayed with a simple episodic method, so the fact it shoots for a more integrated telling is pretty cool. Despite the occasional failings of the narrative, I give the film points for its creativity.

Most of the four vignettes work pretty well, too. To my disappointment, Steven’s fares the worst. It starts out nicely and I like the premise, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. The film does use the Steven character in a fun way later in the story, but his own sequence doesn’t really satisfy.

The other three are more compelling, and they come with some surprises. I’ll admit the Laurie plot goes somewhere I really didn’t expect, and it’s a delight to see what happens. The tale with the teen pranksters seems more predictable, but it’s still quite satisfying. Indeed, that’s probably the best of the four tales, as it provides the strongest scares and impact.

As for the Kreeg story, I like the way that it connects to the rest of the film. It turns out the narrative has a link to Kreeg above and beyond his proximity to Steve; that side of things offers a clever and unexpected twist that satisfies. The Kreeg vignette isn’t great as the film’s climax, but it works for the most part.

Indeed, in terms of scares, the Laurie sequence probably wouldn’t been the best way for the movie to go out on a high note. However, I understand that this wouldn’t work within the movie’s structure. Trick features a continuing mysterious background character named Sam (Quinn Lord); he pops up at the scene of all the film’s brutality. The film has to finish with Kreeg to make the Sam side of things fit together. That makes the finale a little disappointing in terms of impact, but I understand its thematic necessity.

Overall, I think Trick provides a good horror anthology. It wears its influences on its sleeve and doesn’t always coalesce as well as I’d like, but it throws out the requisite number of scares and proves to be moderately clever along the way.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Trick ‘r Treat appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Warner Bros. doesn’t have a great track record with the visuals on these fullscreen/widescreen DVD, but Treat looked surprisingly good.

Sharpness was consistently quite nice. Occasional examples of softness and blockiness emerged, but these were acceptably minor. For the most part, the movie showed good clarity and definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws also weren’t a concern. Some light artifacting and mosquito noise appeared, but these never became significant.

Colors looked solid. Of course, the film favored the oranges prominent during Halloween, and they appeared lively and vivid. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows appeared clear and smooth. For standard DVD, this was a pleasing presentation.

I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Trick ‘r Treat seemed good but unexceptional. The soundfield tended toward atmospheric information, though it came to life a bit better during the more active scare sequences. For instance, the scene at the rock quarry used the five channels in an active, effective manner that surrounded us with creepy material. That wasn’t the rule here, though, as most of the movie went with general – though useful – ambience.

Audio quality appeared positive. Speech remained natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music was bright and full, and effects seemed solid. Those elements showed good definition and clarity. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio was more than competent for this sort of flick.

Only one extra appears here: an animated short called Trick ‘R Treat: Season’s Greetings. It runs three minutes, 47 seconds and shows the adventures of Sam, the creepy little kid who crops up throughout the live-action film. It’s mildly creepy but not the most fascinating thing I’ve seen.

Greetings can be viewed with or without commentary from writer/director Michael Dougherty. He tells us about the creation of the animation and a few other aspects related to the short. He throws out a few interesting details.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-ray Discs, The Hills Run Red, Orphan and the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Dirt-2 videogames.

Though direct-to-video movies come with low expectations, they don’t automatically stink. Trick ‘r Treat offers a reasonable winner. Though not without flaws – most of which stem from its interconnected narrative – the film exhibits cleverness along with its scares. The DVD boasts very good picture and satisfying sound, but it lacks substantial extras. This one’s definitely worth a look for horror fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1111 Stars Number of Votes: 9
4 3:
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