Many of us were first introduced to this film through its musically powerful and highly visual trailer. You say, thats how most people find out about movies, trailers, Duh. That’s true, but this one appeared in front of the DVD release for the movie 300. It had fans of horror movies positively salivating in anticipation. Then, never came to be. Finally a DVD was released in 2009; two full years after the trailer was given to us.
The trailer itself was timeless in it’s own way with a near perfect execution of imagery and sound. It promised us a tale of vampires, classic halloween costumes not seen since the early 80s, ghosts, ghouls and jack o lanterns. Most of you will read this review two weeks prior to the day, this is intentional on my part. This gives you time to watch it and get in the halloween spirit.
Is it a Trick or Treat though?
As normal first we examine sole writer and director, Michael Dougherty. Prior to 2007 he had given us Bryan Singers screenplays for X2 and Superman Returns. In both cases he was one of several involved. Fault cannot be laid soley at his feet and it appears as he worked both films he is friends with Bryan Singer. On his solo outing, he finds a voice all his own. He comes at the movie in a way I haven’t seen since the Creepshow movies or perhaps even Heavy Metal. He interweaves the stories and connects them through touches of subtlety that can be overlooked. What he also shows is a true passion and love for the holiday (my favorite of course) and crafts a tale bringing superstition, horror, and tradition together.
We have the story of a modern woman (Leslie Bibb – the reporter from Ironman 1 and 2) who scoffs at tradition and her husband (Tahmoh Penikett – Battlestar Galactica)who respects it. This is the shortest of them, but has some meaning as it lays the ground work for what is to come. There is also the tail of poor, sweet, virginal Laurie (Anna Paquin – True Blood), with her big sister and friends off to a party hunting for dates as storybook characters. One cannot forget the lessons by principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker – Law and Order) and his son Billy; reminding us of all the warnings we grew up with and some of the modern traditions of Halloween. We cannot have a movie like this without a ghost story filled with tricks, treats, myths, and even revenge. A story of children on a bus left to die long ago and children today who were lost to the darkness inside all people. Of course there is also the final story – the obligatory haunted house. The old man who scares everyone and yet has dark secrets of his own that bring the darkness to him in ways he can only imagine in nightmares.
Now for the month of October many of my reviews, contrary to the norm, have been spoilerific. This one will not be, unless you’ve figured out things from how I said them. If so more power to you.
From a technical standpoint, this movie is everything Halloween should be. Had Carpenter gotten what he wanted in 1978, this film would have fit into his goals for what the Halloween series was meant to be. The effects done by Patrick Tatopulos (Underworld) while not perfect are some of the best I’ve seen for transformations and certainly original. The movie stays practical nearly 100% of the time on all the effects and those that aren’t I can’t tell. It also does something I have not seen much of when it puts actual children in the roles of the very children who are in peril – which is unusual for Hollywood. It also wisely knows when to leave well enough alone and let your imagination and a creative foley artist do far more than any gore effect. A lesson to be learned by many so called horror directors.
The movie has frights, but not too much to handle. It has chills and thrills, twists and turns. This to me, is an absolute must see in the horror and halloween genres. It’s barely flawed and almost perfect in every execution.
It is THE movie to have for a Halloween completist.
Tomorrows review let us know that Mummy came to his house