Yes, yet another pile of puppy poop involving Trick 'r Treat, but the question here expands far beyond its borders. Finally browsing around past reviews and especially in recent response; I'm genuinely taken aback by the amount of those placing an extreme amount of focus in all the wrong places when in comes to their criticisms. The majority of thoroughly negative comments are cheapjack knee-jerk reactions by those who are probably more pissed in themselves not understanding the simplistic genius seen by so many others in this anthology.
Though this focus of I speak is not so much comprised of dumb hatred, but those who are over-analyzing entirely unimportant story details or aspects that don't need to be explored and then deeming it poor writing by Dougherty. Complaints range from the principal not having an apparent motive to off trick-or-treaters, none of the characters being "likable", the kids not having an apparent motive (yea, that again) to prank Rhonda, and a bunch of other head scratchin' gripes that are wiped away by simply pointing out this feature is a horror anthology.
Trick 'r Treat isn't meant to be singular point-to-point narrative with a few subplot tendrils weaved throughout, but rather a collection of spooky and vaguely self-contained one-offs with whip smart connections to each other within themselves. Granted, the anthology is a bit of lost art in the genre nowadays, but is it really that hard for some to understand? I'd much rather have a structurally airtight eighty-two minute film than a lumbering two and a half hour examination of minuscule character and backstory fill-in for those apparently lacking the imagination they hopefully carried as a child.
Saying this, you can dislike Trick 'r Treat, but I'd only hope the misgivings one has are made up for in the wealth of goodwill the film conjures. It's a horror film that works as a homage in practice and not merely in principle. Sam and his squashed kitty in a sack are too busy blazing their own way to give any cheeky winks at horror fans. It's a quality we need to see more of, instead of giggling at Ruggero Deodato's cameo in Hostel 2 while those around wonder what the fuck we're obsessing about or pissing our pampers if the name "Bruce Campbell" is dropped in an action flick. Every film worth paying attention to has leaps of faith where filmmakers entrust the viewer to connect some of the more minor dots and Dougherty additionally trusts the viewer to understand the horror genre's vernacular.
This is the distressing point since it seems the genre's traditional linguistics appear astoundingly baffling to some in this particular case. One wonders if this was the reason Warner withheld the film for so long. Not because they felt it was shoddy, but perhaps too intelligent for the masses to reap any meaningful wide release revenue. Or maybe too deceptively unassuming on the surface for audiences used to antagonizing anguish and sudden slamming doors. Hell, for all we know, after Zombie's insulting Halloween freakout scored at the box office they might have just finally said fuck it and condemned Trick 'r Treat to the shiny disc. Could a studio actually do this? What does that say about the state of the genre? If true, can there ever be another widespread horror classic? Should I just go blow it out of my ass?