When I was but a pup, my family and I moved from our rustic borehole in Blighty to a far statelier abode in the United States of America. Situating ourselves within the shoulder state of Wisconsin, we quickly warmed to the country and its many traditions. The one most impacting of such traditions was a mysterious, arcane event that reared its mischievous little head every October; a day of devils, demons, ghosts and ghouls, pumpkins, dandies and brain nuzzling candies… I am speaking of course of All Hallows Eve.
Upon our premature return to England I quickly readapted to life in sunny Britannia. Here, now, in my early twenties my all too brief time in America seems but a distant mirage in the fallible desert of memory.
However two things continue, for better or for worse, to stick with me 1.) My mispronunciation of the word, aluminium and 2.) My unwavering adoration for Halloween, USA style.
Trick ‘r Treat is a rare film which perfectly mirrors my rabid passion for the synonymous holiday, fervently retaining its malevolent spirit with astounding proficiency and consistent ingenuity.
The movie follows four ghastly tales of fright and delight, each one interlocking with the others in an impressive display of scatter gun story telling. Diligently preserving this delicate patchwork is the nefarious imp demon, Sam.
Sam is a seasonal malediction made flesh, Halloween personified through wicked deeds of unspeakable foulness and spite; the spherical headed, bastard son of Little Big Planet‘s Sack Boy. He acts as the holiday’s guardian angel sent to perpetuate the gospel of Halloween, contently observing those who obey and inflicting righteous indignation upon all who oppose. When he IS forced to dish out the pain he does so in disturbingly farcical fashion, using a serrated loli-pop as malleable weaponry and hiding punitive razor blades in Hershey’s milk-chocolate bars.
Needless to say the humour is ferociously twisted, obsidian black and dangerously clever.
Particularly note worthy is the films general prevaricative habits. Dialogue will mislead, camera work will evade and the soundtrack will out and out lie to you, all of this utilised to create the desired effect of an untrustworthy world. When you think the plot will go one way, it will inevitably go another. Most surprisingly this never feels like a cheap trick or unjustified gimmick, but rather an essential attribute that gives the film its greatest charm.
Not least of all, Trick ‘r Treat works because it is genuinely cinematic. The cinematography is, on occasion, gut wrenchingly beautiful and surprisingly elegant.
In particular I am reminded of the unsettling, visual whimsy of the school bus fable. Capturing a syrupy golden light the camera perfectly elucidates the nostalgic vision of one startlingly beautiful, late autumnal afternoon. As the scene goes on the diabolical undertone of this chilling tale begins to come apparent. Without giving too much away the bus is sent careering off a low gorge, obediently plummeting into the misty waters of a previously abandoned quarry. As it does the camera begins to drift forward -the amaranthine light now viscid and blinding- silently observing as this terrible calamity necessarily unfolds…
Trick R Treat is a positively edifying experience that teaches you to love Halloween all over again, presenting its curious mythos before you in a blisteringly entertaining fashion. More importantly, it also teaches you to respect Halloween, because if you cuss Halloween, it will cuss you right the f**k back… Probably with knives.
Additional film information: Trick ‘r Treat (2008)