There is a nearly endless library of horror films out there and some are better than others. There are certainly some bottom of the barrel offerings that will make even the most tolerant fans of the genre to roll their eyes. There are also some superbly crafted horror films that have contributed to our culture. With that said, there are not very many horror films that have truly captured the spirit of Halloween. Even John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween is a horror story that happens to take place on Halloween but is not truly about the holiday. Where are the chaotic tales that demonstrate that Halloween is a special time when anything can happen? Thankfully, one such movie has stepped forward and over the years has gained a loyal following. That movie is of course Trick ‘r Treat.
With an overweight vandal encountering a sadistic school principal, a young woman who is feeling peer pressure about going through with her first time, a group of young students visiting a place with an infamous reputation, a grumpy old man who hates the holiday and a weary woman who simply wants to take down the Halloween decorations and go to bed, it is safe to say that this movie has a lot on its mind. Unlike most horror films however, Trick ‘r Treat does not have a linear three act plot. The story in this movie is actually circular and contains five distinct stories set in the same town. Unlike what you would see in an anthology movie such as Creepshow, the stories in Trick ‘r Treat flow into one another. For example, a character in the midst of one story could be visited by a group of trick-or-treaters who will go on to their own story and the next door neighbor may go through his own story as well.
Aside from being set in the same town, the common thread throughout these stories is Sam, a diminutive character who wears a costume and burlap mask. He has a sort of childlike sense of wonder about the holiday of Halloween and will ruthlessly punish those who fail to respect the holiday. As you may have guessed, in this case “Sam” is short for Samhain, a Gaelic holiday closely related to Halloween. Sam is a bit of a fascinating character. While his punishments can be brutal and bloody, he limits his attacks to the poor souls who disrespect the spirit of Halloween. Sam is not after a body count nor are his attacks personal. As friend and fellow editor Samuel Tolbert said while discussing this film, “It’s not about evil or good – just those who respect Halloween and those who don’t.” Sometimes Sam is active in the five stories and sometimes he is merely an observer. In all cases he ensures that the holiday spirit is present.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the five stories within this movie. They are understandably short and I do not want to risk ruining the fun twist endings. They can be quite bloody and frightening but at the same time they are ridiculously comical. I mean, what can be more annoying to a killer trying to hide the body of his latest victim than his young son shouting at him through the window because the child is bored and wants to do something? I will say that my favorite tale features the lovely Anna Paquin as the aforementioned young woman who feels self conscious and nervous about going through with her first time. Her tale also is a rare case of the most perfect song imaginable playing during a scene. If you’re curious, the song is Marilyn Manson’s cover of Sweet Freams (Are Made of This). I wholeheartedly recommend watching trick ‘r Treat to bring in the Halloween holiday.
And most importantly- a bit of advice as you wait for the trick-or-treaters to knock on your door tonight. Remember and respect the rules of Halloween:
- Wear a costume.
- Leave your Jack O’Lanterns lit until Midnight.
- Respect the Dead.
- Always give out treats.
After all, you never know who might be knocking at your door.
This marks the end of the third season of The Witching Hour – our collection of 31 horror reviews delivered to you every midnight in October. We hope you have enjoyed this journey through the strange and macabre.
You stumble forward on the path and the first rays of the rising sun embrace you. As you glance behind you it seems that the darkness is beginning to recede. On this journey you have learned that there are most definitely things that go bump in the night. Go forward into the daylight and revel in the life that blooms around you.
But remember – for every dawn there will be a dusk. The shadows will gather around you once again. As always, you will not have to make that journey alone. You will see us waiting alongside the path with our hand outstretched. Take our hand and we will make the next journey into the darkness together. Until we meet again next year…
Many thanks to the writers at The Inner Circle for their help on the third season of The Witching Hour. Without the assistance of Samuel Tolbert, Jared and Nicholas this endeavor would not be possible. Please check out their contributions. Finally, a big thank you to all of our visitors who took the time to read The Witching Hour articles.