“Trick ’r Treat” is an homage to old-school, campy, horror shows “Tales from the Crypt” and “Creepshow.” It’s an anthology of storylines introduced with comic book pages, and like “Crypt,” it plays as a cautionary tale sans the Crypt Keeper doling a pun-ny moral at the end.
The first “tale of terror” starts with a costumed married couple returning home from a night out. Emma (Leslie Bibb) leans down to extinguish a Jack-o-lantern candle. Her hubby, (Tahmoh Penikett) warns against it, and when she asks why, he says “It’s bad luck. It’s tradition.”
The camera switches perspective to the eyes of “someone” watching them from across the street, and we’re introduced to one of the ongoing, demonic characters — among many — in “Trick ’r Treat.” After Emma “pays her Halloween dues,” “Trick ’r Treat” flashes back — in perfect “Crypt” form — to earlier that night.
Four out-of-town ladies are costuming up in a Party America-type store for their yearly tradition of trickery. They talk exploits from previous years with new-to-the-mix Laurie (Anna Paquin), who’s reluctant to take part. Dressed as Red Riding Hood, she flies solo, on the hunt for a date to a Halloween party. This was my favorite storylines in “Trick ’r Treat,” and it closes with one of the coolest scenes set against Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams.”
Director/writer Michael Dougherty pens each character and plot in a set time-frame and joins them at the end. Other sweet performances to note: Brian Cox owns it as the neighborhood grump with a secret, Dylan Baker plays straight-laced creeper with a perfect amount of camp and the red-headed kid from “Bad Santa” (Brett Kelly) makes a gruesome cameo.
The best part of this movie is it dishes crooked forms of justice — something I always loved about “Tales from the Crypt” — where people with horrible intentions have to pay up and the innocent receive their come-uppance. But unlike its predecessors “Tales from the Dark Side” and “Crypt,” “Trick ’r Treat” doesn’t hold up after one or two viewings. The big reveal is kind of a one-trick pony.
This isn’t one to buy on DVD, but if you’re game for a light, horror movie throwback, check it out. It’s sure to get you in the Halloween mood.
“Trick ’r Treat”
Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb.
Written, directed by: Michael Dougherty.
Available for rent: Netflix, Blockbuster.
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