FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Oct 31, 2009

Day 31: "Always check your candy."

I know some people who flip out over Christmas- people who get excited when the radio stations switch over to holiday music, when it's time to dig the decorations out of the attic, when Rankin-Bass takes over the TV. I get it. Christmas is cool...but come on, let's not pretend for even one minute that Halloween isn't the best. I get jazzed when TV stations show nothin' but the scary stuff, when haunted houses are open for business, when my grocery store has glow-in-the-dark skeletons for sale, and for that one night a year when everyone is a horror movie fan. Mind you, it doesn't feel the same as it did when I was eight- I mean, that's a big doy doy if I've ever written one- but still, once September turns to October, there's a vibe in the air that I adore...and once October turns to November, I get a little bummed. If there's ever been a movie that's captured that feeling, that air of macabre fun I associated with Halloween, it's Trick 'r Treat.

The film is an anthology of sorts, relaying four stories set on Halloween night in the small town of Warren Valley, Ohio- a place that pulls out all the stops when celebrating the holiday. Writer/director Michael Dougherty tells the tales in a fashion more akin to Pulp Fiction than to Creepshow; that is, the stories are interwoven into one narrative that jumps back and forth through time, rather than presented as separate segments. History and some familiar urban legends are explored, from razor blades in the candy to the roots of Samhain- and the film that results is the biggest celebration of October 31st since It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Trick 'r Treat is destined to become an annual viewing tradition, much like A Christmas Story is 'round December.

As a pure horror film, it's a bit uneven. It's not entirely scary and there are a few missteps (the climax of the 'party girls' storyline was a let down), but overall there's an exceptionally dark EC Comics tone that's fun and mean. The legend of the children who died on the schoolbus is a highlight, both horrifying and heartbreaking- man, the chubby kid in the bunny suit really got to me. Then there's Sam, the burlap sackheaded boy/monster who ties it all together...he could become a bonafide holiday icon, but I wish in the end we'd seen a little less of him.

The production design is amazing- despite the many instances of child murder, I sort of wish Warren Valley were a real place. It's my Halloween dream town. While it's not the scariest thing you'll see, Trick 'r Treat is perhaps a dream Halloween movie...undoubtedly it's a perfect way to bring SHOCKTOBER to a close.

Ugh, "to a close"! It's over already. I suppose by tomorrow afternoon, stores will take down the masks and put up the wreaths, and all the candy will be wrapped in red and green instead of orange and black. Guess that means I'll just have to stay inside, where the fake gravestones are always out, the wigs are always close at hand, and there are always horror movies playing ad nauseum.

19 comments:

Brian B. said...

Heh, I had a feeling this was gonna be the last one. Good choice!

B.E. Earl said...

I loooooved this movie. Notice the extra "o"'s?

But yeah...not very scary. Just a whole mess of fun.

P. K. Nail said...

I have so much love for Trick 'r Treat. Great climax to a great Shocktober!

Astrogirl4490 said...

I'd be interested in seeing a Charlie Brown/Sam showdown.

http://bit.ly/3lNaEW

Charles said...

I heart Final GIrl. If I didn't already, the last paragraph would have made it happen.
Always hated November 1st, almost as much as those damn villagers in the Frankie movies...

D said...

So nice to see someone who enjoyed it but not going gonzo. Yeesh, I know we can be a starved lot but some of those other sites... That, urm, I obviously do not frequent... Have declared it the end-all, be-all. Should those be hyphenated? I never know.

While definitely enjoyable it wasn't the least bit scary and sorry, I still kinda need a lil of that in my horror film. I am interested in what the 'party girl' letdown was? It was really the only surprise for me.

Lastly, I'd just like to remark that my verification word to post is "dieshi". Shi meaning death in Japanese. Sweet.

Anonymous said...

The day AFTER Halloween is the best. All the stores sell their halloween candy at 1/2 price!

thomwade said...

Glad you enjoyed it. :)

I think the scariest part for me happens right near the start-the sequence with Leslie Bibb-there is some great misdirection there.

I think I wish we were getting movies like this in the theater every Halloween, instead of Saw sequels.

Keywolf said...

Loved it! My second favourite movie of the year (after Let The Right One In).

Interesting you say the climax of the 'party girls' story was a let down- that was my favourite scene, and it got a huge spontaneous applause when I saw it on the big screen (the way everybody should have been able to watch it, damn you Warner Brothers!).

Hud said...

I watched this on Friday and totally agree it was a bit uneven - the school bus story was the best one, pretty creepy and I liked the dorky girl, Rhonda.

goblin said...

Heh. I watched 'Trick 'r Teat' yesterday, too (along with 'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane'). I liked it; it was a fun movie, but I have to agree with you about it being uneven. While the episodes were masterfully interwoven with each other, I thought that the editing was a bit jumpy at times. It might had been better if the tales were told 'Creepshow'-style, i.e. bringing one after the other. Also, I wished the director would had taken the time to explore the characters and the backgrounds of some of the stories a bit more. Brian Cox as grumpy, old Mr. Keeg was great, though!

I feel the same about the end of October. It makes me feel a little melancholic, too. But fortunately, there's always going to be a Halloween next year.

Stacie Ponder said...

The only thing I didn't like about the 'Party Girls' bit was how it became oddly over-sexualized for a minute. It just threw me off and seemed pretty gratuitous. Minor complaint, really- I loved the misdirection when the body fell out of the tree.

Thanks for diggin' the SHOCKTOBER shenanigans, kids. I'll have a wrap up on Monday!

thomwade said...

I see what you are saying, though according to the director, that sequence is all about how the holiday became sexualized in the last decade, as just a time for girls to dress sexy.
Plus, for a moment, in the alleyway sequence I thought, "Oh crap, another tired vampire story?!" So I appreciated the twist.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh sure, pre-made costumes for women generally start with the word "slutty". You can't be Batgirl, you have to be Slutty Batgirl. I think it's cool if he wanted to make some sort of statement about that, but I'm not sure how that statement resulted in showing tits, really.

D said...

Good point, though I pretty much took it as a very primal, sexual ritual for them and considering they had to shed EVERYTHING, clothes coming off first didn't seem such a gratuitous move.

Hmm... The Feast of The She-Wolves. Has that been a movie title yet?

DonkeyPunchingMikey said...

I also watched this last night and loved it. The movie as a whole certainly wasn't perfect, but the atmosphere sure was. I think it's definitely gonna become a Halloween staple in my house.

I too am very saddened that Halloween is now over. It's such a horribly depressing feeling, isn't it? But to be fair, I think Christmas deserves a better rap. I mean, it's obviously no Halloween, but when you grow up watching films like Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night, Christmas pretty much becomes a second Halloween. It truly does have a great creepy vibe...if you look for it.

P.S. I pretty much do live in a small suburban town much like the town in Trick 'r Treat. Entire streets get closed off in my town where every house participates in over-the-top decorating and all sorts of scary activities. These streets are only a few blocks away from my house and from my bedroom window, I can always hear Halloween sound effects tapes and Michael Jackson's Thriller and plenty of screaming. It's so awesome, hehe.

Theron said...

I've been wanting to see this since last year, but I can't find a copy anywhere. Sad face.

Emily said...

You pinpointed exactly what this movie is: a great Halloween film and a decent horror. I've had a lot of difficulty trying to reconcile my enjoyment of it while watching with my sense of being underwhelmed amid the hype its received. It's flawed, and then fantastic, fantastic, and then flawed. A good time any day and a great time for the glorious October season.

Reel Whore said...

I enjoyed TrT. The only story that didn't work perfectly for me was the kids/pit story. It's because I watched a deleted scene that, if included, would have ruined the story's logistics.

Guess that's why it was deleted and why I should just get over it.