trick_r_treat_2Welcome to Reel Rewind, a semi-monthly column in which I’ll revisit some of our favorite/overlooked films, bringing along artists that I can’t get enough of. We’ll team up for some fun collaborations and bridge the gap between film appreciation and art. For the entire month of October, creatures, spooks and things that shouldn’t be are taking over the column to celebrate Halloween! Be afraid, be very afraid!

Year: 2007
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer(s): Michael Dougherty
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
35mm, Color, 82 mins

After being held in limbo for years, Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘R Treat was finally released to home video in 2009 without a much deserved theatrical release. Despite all that, it’s been enjoying a rise in cult popularity, so much so, that a sequel’s just been announced. For my money, it’s certainly one of the best horror films of the past decade — a tight, thrilling and fun exercise in every way, delivering a smart and creepy look at Halloween, it’s traditions and the way we celebrate it. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this is the cumulative Halloween film experience, one that gives us a new holiday mascot in the cute and sinister Sam and loads of new surprises with each viewing.

As an anthology, the film features roughly four interconnected stories which take place on the same Halloween night. Each story is a different feel, but to the film’s credit, the plot is spliced together in a smart, non-linear fashion akin to Pulp Fiction, switching things up to keep things unpredictable. Among the tales included here are a homicidal school principal, bullies with a cruel practical joke about drowned children, a virgin looking for her “first time” and a grumpy old man who has to answer to the mysterious Sam, a tiny childlike creature with a sackcloth mask who goes around making sure all of the holiday’s traditions are being followed. It may sound like a lot, but it’s told in the tightest and most precise way, weaving in and out of different characters and tales organically while keeping us guessing with plenty of laughs, chills, blood and smashed Jack-O-Lanterns.

The utter joy of the film comes from the way it cleverly covers the ghoulish holiday from every angle and stage of life, examining characters who are either happy, awed, terrified, indifferent (plus a few other things) over the annual tradition and everything it has to offer. Because of this, director/writer Michael Dougherty gets to play with a variety of sub-genres and stories, yet always manages to subvert our expectations to deliver a turn of events that we don’t see coming. Everything is in peak form here, from Glen MacPherson’s atmospheric photography, the propulsive plot which plays out with pulpy abandon and colorful, endearing characters which encompass every emotion there is by the time it’s all over. There’s something for everyone here, whether it’s creatures, ghouls or sinister human intentions, and even if you aren’t into horror films, this will get you into the spirit.

There are so many horror films nowadays that just want to test your limits or make you drown in nihilistic sorrow, but this is one that keeps things light and irresistibly fun. I’ve watched it every year since it’s release and it never gets old, feeling timeless and stylish each and every time. As far as Halloween treats go, Trick ‘R Treat is as good as it gets.

Crome Rating: 5/5

To close out our month long celebration, I took the liberty of creating a poster for the film! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, as I can’t get enough of the film, and despite all the art I’ve seen for it, no one’s surprisingly took the concept of turning lil’ Sam into a poisoned lollipop (at least not from what I’ve seen)! It’s an idea that had been swirling in my head for a while and I think it’s an appropriate characterization of his character and the different tones the film takes. I hope you guys agree and get a kick out of it as well. If you like, feel free to share and please credit Sal Gabriel of Crome Yellow. Thanks everyone for getting scary with us this year, Reel Rewind will be back sometime before the year’s end or early next year! Have a safe Halloween!

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SG