TRICK R TREAT
Trick 'R Treat is an anthology of sorts. One is reminded of Creepshow (1982) like Creepshow, we even get panels mocked up to look like a comic-book over the credits. Michael Dougherty tells five different stories set around Halloween Night. Unlike the average anthology, the stories here are not told sequentially (where there is usually some wraparound frame such as their being introduced by a storyteller) but are interwound and appear to be happening at the same time. Elements from various stories appear in others Dylan Bakers serial killer principal from the second story turns out to be the masked stalker attacking the girls in the fourth story; Baker also lives next door to and momentarily sees the attack on Brian Cox in the fifth story we see the exchange as Baker is burying the body on the other side of the fence from both Baker and Coxs points-of-view in either story; Cox also turns out to be the bus driver from the third story; while we see various characters passing through the background of other episodes.
I looked forward to Trick 'R Treat due to the Bryan Singer name. Singer is an intelligent and above-average director and it follows that a film with him as producer should hold some of that quality. Despite this, I ended up heavily disappointed with Trick 'R Treat. Michael Doughertys direction is amateurish and over-emphatic. The scenes with Dylan Baker trying to bury a dead body in his backyard in the second story have a rich vein of potential black humour with Baker constantly being interrupted by dogs, the cranky neighbour and his son waking up. However, Dougherty singularly fails to dig into the humour and the sequence drags out. There is also a climactic scene where Dylan Baker takes his son (Connor Levins) down to the basement and it appears that he is raising a knife and about to stab him, before it is anticlimactically revealed that he is just handing him the knife to cut up the fat kids severed head. However, Dougherty pumps the sequence up with such monumental over-dramatisation that it collapses into the absurd.
The potentially best story is the third one with the kids venturing down to the bottom of the quarry, which initially seems to lurk with much in the way of dread atmosphere but falls down because the episode hangs on two lame and predictable twists that everything is a prank and then that the ghosts are real after all. Elsewhere, Michael Dougherty trades in cheap tactics like loud shrieks on the soundtrack to artificially pump up scares. Doughertys over-emphasis of the suspense causes Trick 'R Treat to read like no more than a big-budgeted amateur film. Of the five stories, the fourth probably works the best. There Dougherty plays into the imagery of Red Riding Hood and arrives at a passable, if gimmicky reversal. The emergence of the werewolf contains some worthwhile effects, where Dougherty is clear attempting to do something new in lieu of the standard Hollywood werewolf transformation effect, offering up the novelty of seeing the characters tearing their human skins off to reveal the wolves beneath.
The same idea of a Halloween horror anthology was also used in the subsequent Tales of Halloween (2015).
Michael Dougherty subsequently went onto direct/write the Christmas horror film Krampus (2015).