In preparation for Halloween this year, my sister and I watched a dozen or so horror movies picked at random across Netflix and Amazon's catalogs. True, we watched some pretty exceptional classics, like Candyman and Kubrick's The Shining, but we also laughed our way through hours of absolute dog shit with such pieces as The Bye Bye Man.
We braved terrible films and masterpieces. We stuck to the US, then went abroad with Shutter of the Asian Extreme wave and Spain's own Veronica. Truly, the two of us tasted a bit of everything this Halloween season.
However, after diving into this huge array of unique and thought-provoking content, for some reason I am compelled to write an op ed piece about one of the cringiest movies we picked from the bunch: Trick 'r Treat. Released in 2007 to critically mixed reviews yet having inspired a generally positive and even nostalgic reception from audiences, Trick 'r Treat is the epitome of mid-2000s edge, violence, and sex appeal with everything from sexy stripping werewolves and an Evanescence-esque cover of "Sweet Dreams" to child murderers and murderous children. It's all very cliche and ham-fisted, everything winding together towards an attempt at bold-faced commentary about horror movie stereotypes such as the popular blonde bitch, the weirdo nerd girl, and the danger of challenging spooky local legends.
The problem is that all these messages are delivered with the subtlety and nuance of, well, sexy stripping werewolves showing off their titties and bearing their canines to an Evanescence-esque cover of "Sweet Dreams." Yes, the film was surely interesting in its time for its commentary and its structure, a cobbling together of several adjacent horror stories to create a kind of pulp fiction anthology, but these more novel and even enjoyable parts of the film are spoiled by the fact that these components are handled with the gratuitous edge-factor and self-praise of a nihilistic middle schooler.
While I can appreciate the harsh pulp fiction vibe that this project was going for, it doesn't pan out quite like the writers likely envisioned, and this is not just me being arbitrarily contrarian to a supposed "horror cult classic" that apparently a lot of people enjoyed. I was genuinely rooting for this movie and hoping that it would improve sew itself together in an interesting way by the end, but instead it threw a series of largely unrelated and very flimsily explored horror shorts at the viewer and expected us to be blown away by its edge, gore, and rebellious storytelling technique. And yeah, maybe if these techniques or the mildly self-aware commentary were truly groundbreaking or innovative, I would have given the film a bit more credence for trying something new and taking a leap of faith.
But these concepts aren't new at all. Stephen King's Creepshow and The Cat are both filmic horror anthologies released in the '80s which do a far better job in structuring the disparate shorts and formulating unique and interesting critique and characters with each individual piece. Or if you'd like to get even more iconic and up to date with the era in which Trick 'r Treat was released, take a look at Wes Craven's iconic Scream series, which debuted in 1996, saw a sequel the following year, and was punctuated with a third film in the year 2000. Hell, if you'd like to cut Trick 'r Treat a break for not having the same budgetary leeway or script strength of a Stephen King or Wes Craven property, then just take a look at the terribly campy and self-reflective properties of the '80s, like the Sleepaway Camp films. They're horribly cheesy and just as ham-fisted as Trick 'r Treat, but they don't put on this pretense of having said something especially shocking with their projects. They lack taste, and they know it.
True, maybe I'm being a tad too harsh with Trick 'r Treat, but I paid three God damn dollars on Amazon to watch this movie that people supposedly loved or held dearly as childhood classics, and clearly, I don't think I got my money's worth. But what do I, some asshole film student, really know about the joy and horror of Trick 'r Treat? If anyone thinks they know better, and can help me spot the hidden worth of this disappointing gem, then please reach out and set me straight. Until then, it's back to the browsing page.
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- Trick 'r Treat (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes ›
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- Trick 'R Treat - Trailer - YouTube ›