Director: Michael Dougherty Release Date: October 26 Review by Tara Judah Warner Brothers appear to have lost the plot. Trick ‘r Treat (2008) which previewed at this year’s Fright Fest was not given a theatrical release; it went straight to DVD. Perhaps Warner Brothers figured the recent resurgence in horror films meant it wasn’t the right time, or maybe they thought the film lacked a big enough name – after all, Anna Paquin is only the star of the most successful new television drama to hit our terrestrial screens in years …Hmmm. Whatever the reason, Trick ‘r Treat is everything a Halloween film ought to be; funny with an acerbic edge, bloody with a lot of pumpkin, wildly entertaining with supernatural superstitions and of course, utterly absurd. Trick ‘r Treat is a relatively short though temperedly sweet series of four interconnected stories that take place on All Hallow’s Eve. Each of the stories are cautionary tales about respecting tradition, and more importantly, the dead. Each story and indeed each individual encounters Sam, the deliciously cute trick-or-treater dressed as a pumpkin. His name, an abbreviation for Samhain, a Celtic word for the end of the summer/autumn seasons to celebrate the end of the harvest, and his appearance as a pumpkin, the organic contemporary mascot for said celebrations, are certainly far from coincidental. This further emphasis placed upon the importance of tradition and respect for the dead resonates throughout the film as Sam continues to appear on screen and bring what would otherwise be a series of individual vignettes together to make a more intricate and absurd whole in small town America. Moreover, the use of the word ‘dead’ is most likely intended to represent a greater concept and certainly there are indications in the film that suggest a more general sentiment such as ‘the past’. The characters themselves include a variety of stereotypes that represent ‘everyday’ people in a small town; the slightly bitter school principal, the sweet, innocent, respectful neighbourhood kids, the shy contemplative schoolgirl misfit, the group of attractive young girls on the prowl on a night out, the cranky, cantankerous old man, and a couple of presumed newlyweds reconciling love and duty in their relationship. The flipside of course is that more than one of them turn out to be something other than what they present to the world; a serial killer, rotten, disrespectful pranksters, a strong willed and merciless girl, a group of werewolves, a murderous bus driver, and well, the newlyweds are actually relatively one-dimensional. But what these combined elements explicate is akin to Camus’ theory of the absurd. Everyday life, and human existence more to the point, is so absurd that killing other people- be it the individual murder of one slovenly kid or the massacre of an unsuspecting busload of mentally challenged and disturbed children – becomes meaningless. If you think there is in Trick ‘r Treat a twist on this theory- that those who do deem these acts meaningless will ultimately be punished for their indifference and disrespect, then think again. The philosophy is not so much replaced by a plea for humanity as the order of things is also shown to be absurd. Sam’s retribution against Mr Kreeg does not bring him to ‘justice’ so to speak, as ultimately his being haunted by the memory of the lives he took would be the only thing that could potentially bring meaning to his actions, this is shown at the very end of the film. Similarly, Steven’s metamorphosis from predator to prey is not presented as a type of justice for his own murderous antics, for still it brings no meaning to his actions. There were originally plans to release a four-issue comic adaptation of the story through Wildstorm Comics, however, due to Warner Brothers’ intelligent decision to push the film’s release date back and eventually bring it out direct to DVD, no such installments have as yet hit the shelves of our bookstores. Instead, we can expect to see the work presented as a graphic novel. Certainly I would anticipate the style and the story of Trick ‘r Treat to transfer well from screen to page. As a viewing experience it was for me reminiscent of the dizzying heights of old school comic-horror Creepshow. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable watch and an indulgent filmic pleasure that appealed to all my senses- visceral and intellectual. Treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed.