Trick ‘r Treat (2007, Michael Dougherty)

What if horror movies were less like the bulk of Night of the Demons (teens trapped in a haunted house) and more like the short bookend segments of Night of the Demons (grumpy man who puts razorblades in apples gets his just desserts)? This movie plays like a better-interwoven Creepshow anthology (even with the comic-book animated intro), different stories in the same town on Halloween night, jumping back and forth in time where they intersect. It picks up the torch that was dropped (and doused and buried) by Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I’m trying to say it was very good. Written and directed by a collaborator of Bryan Singer, who produced.

Another reason to cheer: the victims are all carefully chosen – they’re caught disrespecting the spirit of halloween, and get what’s coming to ’em. For instance, at the beginning a square-jawed guy (Tahmoh Penikett of the fake-Kubrick segment in Trapped Ashes) believes in the magic of halloween, has his house all decked out and just enjoyed the annual parade, but his hot pouty wife (Leslie Bibb, Brad Cooper’s girl in Midnight Meat Train) thinks halloween is dumb, and is thus murdered by an apple-headed troll with a jagged lollipop.

Dylan Baker (the child-rapist dad in Happiness) clearly has the best role as a high school principal who murders a shitty, greedy little student, then goes through an Unfaithfully Yours-style comic ordeal to dispose of the little guy. Dylan’s crabby, drunken neighbor Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox) just wants to be left alone, then is visited by the murderous troll. Rogue (Anna Paquin) is timidly trying to find a party date. And some kids recruit a nerdy girl in a witch hat to explore the quarry where legend says a school bus full of mental kids once plummeted. Predictably, in that story the dead return to kill the kids, who had been trying to prank the witch girl all along. But I didn’t foresee the sly ending to Dr. Guggenheim’s story (he was the bus driver). Most deliciously, Rogue is set up as victim to a black-robed vampire prowling the halloween parade, but she turns out to be a werewolf (heh, in red riding hood costume) and the vampire is just Dylan with false fangs.

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