Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Trick 'r Treat

Trash and exploitation have always existed in cinema. While horror is exploitative by genre it is not always trash. Despite the present being a boom time for horror there are (some high profile) troubled productions/distributions/delayed releases.

Trick ‘r Treat has suffered its journey to the public; the public’s suffering is over. The film is released direct to DVD today in the US and on 26th October in the UK.

Horror films are best told in the supernatural sub-genre. There’s nothing like a ghost or demon to invoke terror - what’s a victim to do? There are no rules, no negotiation, no escape. When best told the supernatural horror film creates The Exorcist and Halloween. Trick ‘r Treat is told well.

Most films that use curtain raisers do so as a bait and switch. James Bond and the action genre (eg Beverly Hills Cop) are more guilty of this. The horror genre is a guilty third. These are films that want to start with a climax but cannot continue the momentum. The story has to begin to be told at some point (usually after the curtain raiser). Ergo in said films if the curtain raiser is removed, eg The Fog, the story remains unaffected. What Halloween does is to weave the curtain raiser into the story. This is what Trick ‘r Treat does better.

There are four interweaving stories – it is not a portmanteau film. The first story serves as crucial curtain raiser. The credits proceed to throw up a few familiar names: character actor Dylan Baker, Academy Award winner Anna Paquin who’s riding high (or low) with HBO’s True Blood and producer Bryan Singer. The most famous name is Warner Bros. Don’t ask about exhibition. However this serves to inform the viewer of perceived quality. There is expectation.

End opening credits and at 8½ minutes the story creeps forward. Horror movies are exploitative by genre. Exploitation is sex by default. The camera is inside a fancy dress boutique ladies changing room. The shots are of lady body parts sans faces; a clear midriff, a buxom brassiere. It’s a signal this film is fully rated for horror fans. No apologies needed. We like women.

Who decided to dress Rochelle Aytes as Snow White? Irony or tomfoolery?

Or debauchery?

The second story involves Dylan Baker and attempts that nigh impossible mix of horror and humour. It fails at the humour. Its horror is more Twilight Zone suspense but it does set up the rest of the movie.

There is a demon here.

The next tale involves a group of kids and is my personal favourite. In this story the horror surfaces and the demon continues its rounds.


The third story features Rochelle, Anna and a bevy of strumpets. Brian Cox is the first actor to portray Hannibal Lector and his (last) story is the best. Not only does the demon come to light but it comes to fight. Furthermore all the story strands – the four major and the two minor – coalesce at the end of this one.

A film that occurs on Halloween has to pay homage to the film Halloween. The demon does so in the final story. There’s also acknowledgement to another John Carpenter film The Thing. There is so much material and possibility here that a sequel is more inevitable than probable. The horror community will take Sam to fandom because he’s unremitting. He’s also easy to dress up as. Come Halloween and you’ll see.

This is well written, well produced, straight acted cinema. It’s not without flaws - the obvious one being the vampire. Regardless Trick ‘r Treat is entertaining and doesn’t quaff on intelligence. This is what Drag Me To Hell should have been.

Read more Thrill Fiction: Re/Made - The Wicker Man

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