Old-fashioned horror movie Trick ’r Treat has been sitting on a shelf at Warner Bros. for more than two years, building up a cult following with steady film-festival and promotional screenings and relentless hype by horror-fan websites. The directorial debut from screenwriter Michael Dougherty (X2, Superman Returns) probably deserved a fate better than getting dumped onto DVD this month without ever achieving a theatrical release, but it’s also benefited from a mystique that’s built it into something far more exciting than it actually is.
- Trick 'r Treat
What Trick ’r Treat actually is, then, is a moderately entertaining, occasionally spooky throwback to anthology films like Creepshow, the Tales From the Crypt TV series and old EC comics. Dougherty’s various stories that take place in one small town on Halloween interweave rather than exist as discrete entities, but otherwise they don’t much differ from the somewhat campy, twist-dependent tales that the Crypt Keeper used to dish out.
Dougherty achieves a nice classical feel in his shooting style, and has put together an able cast that includes Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox. But his stories are often muddled, without the moral clarity and sharp cynicism of the EC tales, and the scares are basically nonexistent. Trick ’r Treat deserves points for avoiding cheap thrills and excessive gore, but its limited old-school charms are not nearly as impressive as its inflated reputation suggests.