tek's rating: ¾

Trick 'r Treat (R)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is a live-action feature based on Mike Dougherty's 1996 animated short, Season's Greetings. The movie was supposed to be released theatrically in 2007, and I guess it got a few screenings, but... not a real release. It wasn't available for most people to see until it was released on DVD in 2009. And at that time, it was very well-reviewed. And I guess I must have become aware that it had been eagerly anticipated by horror fans for the past couple of years, and those who had seen it thought it was amazing. So I bought the DVD and watched it on Halloween 2009. And... I thought it was okay, but I didn't think highly enough of it to even bother writing a review. In fact, I didn't expect to keep the DVD, but I did. And over the years, the movie has become a cult classic. It seems like everyone who knows anything about horror loves it, so... I kept thinking one of these years, I'd watch it again. Maybe I was just too tired to really enjoy it the first time. Or something. But year after year, I didn't watch it. Then in 2015, I was thinking I'd definitely do it this year. And coincidentally, on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Geek & Sundry live-streamed it on their Twitch channel. Which... I don't watch anything on Twitch, and I wouldn't trust my internet to be fast enough, necessarily. But I thought I might as well watch my DVD at the same time the movie was streaming online. And then... I didn't. So I thought I'd watch it the next night. But I didn't. But I finally did watch it on Friday, the night before Halloween. And I definitely liked it more than I did the first time I saw it, though I still didn't love it.

Anyway, it's sort of an anthology film, but the stories are kind of interwoven. It begins with a couple, Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) and Emma (Leslie Bibb) returning home from the night's revels. Emma blows out their Jack-o-Lantern, against Henry's vague advice that keeping it lit would protect her from... something. But she doesn't believe in such superstition (and I'm not sure Henry really did, either). She just wants to take down the Halloween decorations in their yard, but he'd rather wait til tomorrow. She relents and lets him go inside while she takes down the decorations herself. And, suffice to say... she probably shouldn't have blown out the Jack-o-Lantern.

The movie then flashes back to earlier in the night. There are some scenes involving a man named Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), who turns out to be a murderer. And he has a next-door neighbor named Mr. Kreeg, a cantankerous old man who hates Halloween. Kreeg is fairly incidental to the Wilkins story, but he'll be the protagonist of the final story. Meanwhile, there are also scenes involving four young women who are planning on going to a party later. One of them, Laurie (Anna Paquin) seems a lot less eager for the event than the others, and we're led to believe it's because she's a virgin. There are other scenes with four kids (most of them apparently in their early teens, one who is probably a bit younger) who are trick-or-treating, and also collecting Jack-o-Lanterns, supposedly for a scavenger hunt. The main two kids are Macy (Britt McKillip) and Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau, whom I know from Kyle XY); the others are Sara and Chip. The four of them are joined by a girl named Rhonda, and they all go to an abandoned rock quarry, where Macy tells the story of a local urban legend, which turns out to be true.

Well, the stories are all interspersed throughout the film, instead of happening individually, one after the other. The main thing that ties them together is the character of Sam (whose name is never spoken, so I only know it from the internet, but apparently it's derived from Samhain). He's (apparently) a creepy little kid wearing footy pajamas and a burlap hood. He doesn't speak, but anyone who's seen "Seasons Greetings" will recognize him, and know that he's dangerous. For most of the film, he's just seen watching the events other characters take part in, but he plays a more active role in a couple of stories, particularly the final one with Mr. Kreeg. As for how any of the individual stories turn out, I don't want to spoil that, but of course they're all pretty creepy. I don't know if I can really call them scary (though I'd understand if some people did). But there are some good twists to the stories, and, you know... a fair amount of death. And I dunno what else to say, except to reiterate that it was better than I remembered. And I'm really glad to have seen it again, and this time I definitely intend to hold on to the DVD.

Oh, and apparently there have been some comic books. I have no idea if I'll ever get them, but I suppose I might. And there was a series of short film promos for FEARnet. Also it looks like there will be a sequel, which I'd like to see. Because Sam does make for a pretty decent embodiment of Halloween....


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