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Trick 'r Treat(2008)
The doorbell rings, the cry goes out: Trick íR Treat! But, wait. Whatís 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.
For more about Trick 'r Treat and the Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray release, see Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 8, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Quinn Lord, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb, Rochelle Aytes, Anna Paquin
Director: Michael Dougherty
» See full cast & crew
Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray Review
A refreshing resurrection of a forgotten genre earns a strong Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 8, 2009
Like a thief in the night, someone... something snuck into our cinematic home and snuffed the life out of the Horror Anthology. With a proud heritage that traces back hundreds of years -- before Stephen King brought us super flus and dark towers; before "The Twilight Zone" became the stuff of post-World War nightmares; before Nosferatu and Frankenstein settled into our silver-screen consciousness; even before Lovecraft, Poe, and the pioneers of all things chilling and unworldly began exploring the night -- horror anthologies reached their peak in the late twentieth century with a slew of bloody films and macabre television series aimed at the burgeoning terrorphiles and gorehounds among us. But then, without warning, the genre collapsed. Filmmakers suddenly abandoned anything resembling Creepshow and its ilk. Network executives gave up on series like "Tales from the Crypt" and movies like Trilogy of Terror. And horror fans? We sat idly by and let it all happen. Luckily, industry upstarts like first-time director Michael Dougherty didn't forget how wicked and wonderful a horror anthology could be.
After a brief but classy throwback to '70s horror (featuring Battlestar vet Tahmoh Penikett and Midnight Meat Train's Leslie Bibb) presents the first of six loosely interconnected stories, Trick 'r Treat begins the long process of startling, scaring, and satisfying. We're introduced to a vicious principal (Dylan Baker) who preys on his students and other innocents of the night; a father who eventually turns his murderous gaze toward his own son. We meet a pack of party-bound girls (including True Blood's Anna Paquin and CSI's Lauren Lee Smith) who get more than they bargain for when one of their dates turns out to be a killer. We follow a group of wide-eyed adolescents (Britt McKillip, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Isabelle Deluce, Alberto Ghisi, and Samm Todd) to the bottom of a quarry where a bus driver once did the unthinkable. We get to see the bus driver's misdeeds unfold as well; misdeeds that ended with the tragic deaths of eight children. Finally, we watch as a strange creature -- a burlap hooded runt dubbed Sam (Quinn Lord) -- pays a visit to an old man (Brian Cox) who despises Halloween. Each story features a twist, a well-crafted turn that comes as a legitimate surprise, and each segment overlaps with the next.
While Dougherty's structure produces some unintended tonal inconsistencies (more on that in a bit), his first feature is a remarkable one. Far from the campy, coddled fun that's cursed other horror anthologies, Trick 'r Treat benefits from a sharp and serrated mean-streak that revels in the unmasking of its creatures of the night. Iconic beasties, misguided killers, and unrepentant demons are just the beginning as a single town becomes the unwitting target of a supernatural guardian of Halloween's ancient traditions. Along the way, Dougherty infuses his stories with an admittedly infectious sense of humor an a healthy respect for his genre forefathers. His script is smart and snazzy, his eye for the grim and ghastly marks the emergence of a visionary, and his wit and sleight-of-hand is a welcome addition to what could have been dull, derivative schlock. The fact that his film was delayed multiple times and denied a proper theatrical release is a tragedy. The unpredictable nature of his vignettes and the confidence he exhibits behind the camera deserve as much; the overwhelmingly positive reaction viewers have had to the film's wares should have earned it the full support of the studio. Alas, horror anthologies aren't the marketable showcase pieces they once were.
There are a few problems. Baker's segment is weaker than the rest, prioritizing humor to such a degree that the story's initial payoff is a slight letdown; Paquin's tale struggles to pick up steam (although it's much, much, much better the second time around); Penikett and Bibb's Where's Waldo appearances wear out their welcome; and Sam's role in the various vignettes is a bit too ambiguous. That being said, newcomers should give Trick 'r Treat two passes before passing judgment. Dougherty didn't simply insert his twists at random, nor did he rely on them to make or break his tales. Instead, each twist is a logical extension of everything that's come before it. Reveals elicit grins rather than groans, and several surprises leave a lasting impression. It helps that every performance is a strong one, every scene matters and, at just 82 minutes, no shot or plot development overstays its welcome. The film isn't quite the unforgettable instaclassic some have declared it to be -- comparing Trick 'r Treat to Pulp Fiction is a stretch (unless a nonlinear script automatically qualifies a film for such high praise) -- but it's in an entirely different league than the vast majority of misguided messes currently littering every corner of the genre.
Ultimately, Trick 'r Treat is a fun, entertaining, oft-times mesmerizing dose of horror that deserves the rampant accolades it's received over the last year. It's just a shame it wasn't released theatrically. With Saw VI bound for thousands of screens across the country and scripts for seventeen more waiting patiently on a studio computer somewhere, I imagine a fresh treat like Dougherty's film -- especially one that's already earned a cult following on the internet -- would have easily turned a profit at the box office. Ah well, here's hoping a sequel is already in the works.
Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray, Video Quality
While gritty, grindhouse aesthetics have dominated many horror films of late, Trick 'r Treat offers a sick series of unexpectedly slick and polished visuals. Thankfully, Warner's 1080p/VC-1 transfer is an equally impressive treat; one that blesses every inch of Dougherty's blood-spattered beasties with a perverse beauty generally reserved for more serious cinema. Colors, particularly gore-soaked reds and autumn-hued oranges, are warm and satisfying, lending weight to Glen MacPherson's rich, shadowy photography. Moreover, skintones are gorgeous, contrast is vibrant, and blacks -- while slightly unresolved on a handful of occasions -- are deep and foreboding. Detail is sharp and stable as well. Delineation reveals and obscures precisely what it should, textures are crisp and refined, and edge definition is clean and natural. A few soft shots muck up the proceedings, but each one should be attributed to the original source, not Warner's technical transfer. And while some errant source noise briefly disrupts the darkness, there aren't any distracting instances of artifacting, aliasing, ringing, DNR, or crush. Minor shortcomings aside, Trick 'r Treat looks much better than I expected, thoroughly outclasses its standard DVD counterpart, and is primed to please any videophile who fancies himself a gorehound.
Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Trick 'r Treat boasts a satisfying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track that surpasses the usual direct-to-video drivel with a respectable mix and a rewarding sonic experience. Dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout, and prioritization is nearly impeccable, particularly when gnashing teeth and tearing flesh are involved. More importantly, the film's pulpy sound effects pack quite an LFE punch; its scares and jolts even more so. Screams, roars, and shotgun blasts resonate, clomping footfalls have legitimate weight, and crunching bone is convincing and unsettling. Granted, the rear speakers are sometimes subdued for such an aggressive mix, but rustling leaves and other persistent background noise makes it relatively easy to immerse oneself in the film's soundfield. And even though the track is a tad front-heavy at times, solid directionality and smooth pans produce an effective illusion of space. As it stands, Trick 'r Treat's restrained sound design lulls listeners into a false sense of security before sending them toward the roof each time Sam and his night-bred brethren make their presence or intentions known.
Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Trick 'r Treat arrives with a decent selection of special features, the majority of which are exclusive to this release. Sadly, all of the video content is presented in standard definition.
Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you haven't had the opportunity to partake of Trick 'r Treat's anthology of terrific tales, there's no better time than the present. The Blu-ray edition features an excellent video transfer, a quality TrueHD lossless audio track, and a decent collection of supplements (including a variety of exclusives). Between Dougherty's commendable efforts and Sam Raimi's recent homecoming, things are looking up for the horror genre.
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Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 6th - October 6, 2009
For Disney, the animated classic 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' represents many firsts. It was not only the company's first animated feature, but also the first commercially successful animated feature ever released. Today, it achieves another first as the first ...
• Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray for October - August 14, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced that it will release 'Trick 'r Treat' on Blu-ray on October 6, day-and-date with the DVD. This horror anthology movie has been repeatedly shown at film festivals since late 2007, but never had a theatrical release. It will be presented ...
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