If you missed the Trick 'r Treat movie during its unforgivably brief theatrical run, you can certainly be forgiven for being unaware of this seasonal favorite. We don't know what other reasons you might have for missing out on Trick 'r Treat; maybe you just haven't heard about it, or you keep confusing it with that other movie called Trick or Treat that's about a zombie heavy metal musician. We're not here to judge. We just want to let you know that Trick 'r Treat is the best Halloween movie you've been missing.
Fortunately, Trick 'r Treat has rapidly ascended to cult status over the decade since its release, with its mascot character Sam joining the ranks of classic horror figures alongside Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and others. You can find Sam all over the place around Halloween, from costumes to yard lights to action figures. As great as Sam is, though - and don't misunderstand, he is really great - he's just one part of what makes Trick 'r Treat such a Halloween treasure.
You may not have even known Halloween needed a mascot, but here he is, nevertheless. Sam is less a slasher like Jason or even Freddy than an elemental representation of the holiday itself. Hence, he appears as a kid dressed up to go trick-or-treating. And he won't harm you as long as you follow the rules of the holiday. Keep jack-o'-lanterns lit, give out candy, that kind of thing. But he also isn't just a kid. Under that burlap sack mask is something that looks like the baby of the monster from Pumpkinhead, and when Sam is fired on, pumpkin innards come splashing out.
Sam's powers are also all themed around the holiday, and he seems to have virtually limitless control over his domain, from conjuring candy filled with razor blades to filling an old man's yard with grinning jack-o'-lanterns. Sam is the Halloween mascot we never knew we always wanted.
The anthology horror film has been around almost as long as horror movies have been a thing, but Trick 'r Treat does something that few other anthology films have done. Most feature a handful of unrelated stories, often held together by a framing narrative, usually involving someone telling the other tales. These range from wax figures coming to life to morbid morticians telling tales of how their customers met their end.
In Trick 'r Treat, however, the four stories take place in the same town, on the same night, and characters from one weave into the other. So, while there are still four distinct narrative threads to be found in Trick 'r Treat - plus a short, sharp fifth that acts as a sort of cold open - all the tales move effortlessly in and out of one another to create a living mosaic, rather than a series of static tales. So, you may see characters from one narrative passing through the background of another, while characters who are trick-or-treating may stop at a house where one of the other stories is taking place. You get the idea.
It's an intriguing approach that lets you have your anthology horror cake and eat it, too.
Creepshow might be the best anthology horror movie ever made, but while that flick got a couple of actual sequels, none of them could hold a candle to the original - and the less said about Creepshow 3, the better. Trick 'r Treat ably picks up that torch, and while it may not quite outshine the original, it's miles better than any of the sequels.
It isn't just that both Creepshow and Trick 'r Treat are anthology horror films perfectly suited for the Halloween season; they also both borrow from, and make use of, a comic book aesthetic. From the twists, reversals, and comeuppances that reek of Tales from the Crypt or old EC horror comics, to the literal use of comic art for scene transitions in Creepshow and certain moments of horror in Trick 'r Treat, these films both revel in their four-color origins.
In the commentary track that accompanies the film's Blu-ray, director Michael Dougherty explains that each of the four main segments of Trick 'r Treat is intended to represent what Halloween is like at a specific age. The first one is about Halloween when you're still young enough to rely on your parents for everything. It concerns the dangers of trick-or-treating, and the necessity of waiting for your parents to help you do things like carve a pumpkin. The second is about Halloween when you're just old enough that you're beginning to age out of trick-or-treating, and you're more interested in causing trouble.
The third segment, which weaves in and out of the others, is about Halloween in your 20s, when it's all about risque costumes and hooking up. And the final segment is about Halloween when you're too old for the holiday - an age none of us will hopefully ever reach, lest we meet a fate similar to Mr. Kreeg.