Trick R Treat anthology does the trick

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No disrespect to John Carpenter, but it’s hard to think of a movie that better captures the spirit of Halloween than Michael Dougherty’s superb anthology Trick R Treat. At times this film has an almost childlike sense of magic, mischief and fun. But just like the pagan holiday it celebrates, beneath Trick R Treat’s harmless looking surface lurks death, nastiness and horror. A healthy dose of black humor and poetic justice straight out of horror comics like Tales From the Crypt ensures that the witch’s brew isn’t too bitter. It’s not so much scary as it is fun in the same macabre and grisly way that urban legends and campfire horror stories are. Comparisons to the '80s horror anthology Creepshow are not entirely unfounded, but aside from the opening credits the tone is less one of overt comic book homage and more dark fantasy.

Unlike most horror anthologies, Trick R Treat has no distinct framing sequence or host character. There’s only the mysterious trick or treater Sam (Quinn Lord), who wears a burlap sack with button eyes for a mask and is always lurking somewhere in the background of each story until taking center stage for the final segment. What ties the film together is that all the stories take place over the span of a few hours one Halloween night in the town of Warren Falls, Ohio, though not in strict chronological order. Characters featured in one segment pop up as supporting players or cameos in others, in some cases after we’ve already witnessed their demise. It’s kind of like a horror Pulp Fiction, with asides about Halloween traditions replacing Tarantino’s pop culture references.

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