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Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 10/6/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/8/2009

Trick r Treat is available on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand & Digital Download

Few fans are as ravenous as horror movies fans and there's nothing that devotees of the genre love more than an obscure movie. (The recently released The Hills Run Red is based on this concept.) Horror movie junkies love to brag that they've seen a movie that other fans haven't. With the advent of home video and the proliferation of DVDs, that doesn't happen much anymore, unless we're talking about a hard to find foreign film. But, every once in a while, a domestic horror film becomes the stuff of legend.

Trick 'r Treat was shot in late 2006/early 2007 for a Halloween 2007 release. However, Warner pulled the film from its release slate with no explanation. In October 2008, the film began to play at film festivals and word of mouth began to spread. Horror websites and magazines did articles on the movie and internet chat forums were abuzz with those who had seen it and those who were dying to lay their eyes on the movie. During this time, the movie garnered a wealth of positive reviews. Finally, Warner Home Video has brought the film to DVD. (Interesting side note, the DVDs arrived late to reviewers. This movie never gets anywhere on time.)

Trick 'r Treat takes place in the small town of Warren Falls, Ohio on Halloween night and follows several groups of characters as they encounter scary things on the spookiest night of the year. Steven (Dylan Baker) appears to be fed-up with trick-or-treaters, as he goes through some extreme measures to get rid of them. He also doesn't want to play a macabre game with his son. Sisters Laurie (Anna Paquin) and Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith) arrive in town with their friends to get dressed up in costumes and meet men. Laurie seems very hesitant to go out and her ironic "Little Red Riding Hood" costume appears to make her easy prey for anyone on the prowl. A young couple, Emma (Leslie Bibb) and Henry (Tahmoh Penikett), arrive home from a night on the town and quickly learn that Halloween has rules which must be observed. A group of children visit a quarry which was the site of a tragic accident years before to see if they can raise the dead. Cantankerous old Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), who would rather scare trick-or-treaters than hand out candy, gets a lesson in truly being scared.

I had considered presenting Trick 'r Treat as one of my patented "Hey, I've heard of these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" features, but I didn't because for once, we know a little about the film's past. Having said that, the movie is full of recognizable faces, and even some bonafide stars. (Given the popularity of True Blood, which is produced by their sister company HBO, one would think that Warner would want to promote the film based on her presence.) So, why didn't Warner know what to do with this movie? I don't know, because it's a lot better than many other horror films which we've seen in the past two years. In fact, just recently I've watched some robo-stinkers that were so bad that I'd rather watch Trick 'r Treat 100 more times than ever sees those movies again.

If nothing else, the movie deserves kudos for tackling an old concept in a new way. Writer/Director Michael Dougherty has taken the idea of the horror movie anthology and turned it on its ear. Essentially, Trick 'r Treat is broken down into several individual stories. However, instead of being stand along tales told in a certain sequence (ala Creepshow), the stories are interwoven and often cut back and forth between plotlines. The story leaps back and forth in time and we often see characters from one story passing in the background of another tale. It's like Pulp Fiction meets Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Dougherty, an experienced writer making his directorial debut here, has also given the movie a very nice look. The film is dark, but never too dark and the frame is usually jammed with Halloween artifacts. This is a slick-looking movie, never appearing cheap or poorly made.

Having said that, Trick 'r Treat simply didn't grab me. Maybe it was the hype and the anticipation or maybe it was the inconsistencies amongst the stories, but it wasn't the end-all-be-all that I'd hoped it would be. The movie certainly has some interesting ideas and the ways in which the stories mesh is often very impressive. There is also one plot twist which is very well done. But, I never found the movie to be remotely scary or creepy. A film set on Halloween night with wall-to-wall monsters should be at the very least spooky, but I didn't find that here. Despite the fact that the movie is only 82-minutes long, I found my mind wandering at times, especially during Laurie's story. Again, Trick 'r Treat is a very well-made and creative film which is head and shoulders above most of the direct-to-video horror fodder with which we are faced, but it's not the classic that many have made it out to be.

Trick 'r Treat can't get enough candy on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The DVD features both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. Again, this is a dark movie, but this transfer never looks too dark and the action is always visible. The colors look great, most notably the constant use of orange. There were some minor halo effects at times, but otherwise this DVD looks good. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This movie sports a good audio mix and this tracks presents it well. The stereo effects are nicely done and come into play during Mr. Kreeg's story. Many of the scenes utilize good surround sound effects and there are times when we feel as if the action is taking place all around us. The scary scenes all produce effective subwoofer action.

The lone extra on the Trick 'r Treat DVD is the animated short "Trick 'r Treat: Season's Greetings". The 4-minute short can be viewed with AUDIO COMMENTARY Writer/Director Michael Dougherty. The short features the Sam character as seen in the feature film. The piece is a nice distraction, but it's basically a one-joke piece.

Warner Home Video has also brought Trick 'r Treat to Blu-ray Disc.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc features a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material.  The colors look fantastic, most notably the reds and oranges.  The image is never overly drak or bright and the blacks are very rich are realistic.  The image shows very good depth and the level of detail is excellent as well.  Overall, this looks great.  The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps.  The stereo effects are good and are nicely detailed.  During the "Sam" sequence, there is nice use of off-screen sounds to add ambience to the piece.  The surround sound effects are OK.  They are a bit sporadic and aren't very strong.  The same goes for the subwoofer effects.

The Trick 'r Treat Blu-ray Disc contains "Season's Greetings" short plus several other extras.  We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Michael Dougherty, Concept Artist Breehn Burns, Storyboard Artist Simeon Wilkins, and Composer Douglas Pipes.  "Trick 'r Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween" (27 minutes) is a documentary narrated by Brian Cox.  This piece, using the movie as a jumping off point, explores the facts and myths behind Halloween.  We get comments from the cast and crew, who gives their views on Halloween, but we also have interviews with historians and authors who discuss the history of Halloween.  The Disc contains 8 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 17 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from Dougherty.  These are all simply added moments or longer versions of existing scenes from the film and don't add any new characters or subplots.  "School Bux FX Comparison" (1 minute) shows how various elements were layered to create the bus crash.!

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long