Pardon for starting this off with something about me, but I wanted to clarify something. I usually let a film stew a day after seeing it before scribing these idiom-laded run-on sentences. During that time, the feeble gears in my head tend to find an ever increasing amount of flaws in a particular movie while in this gestation. I couldn't think of a single aspect of Trick 'r Treat to gnaw away at with criticism.
Trick 'r Treat's aims are simple as it answers those little nagging questions we all have during everyone's favorite holiday. Who would be such an soulless person as to place dangerous objects in candy? What are all the pretty girls doing in celebration? What's the deal with the crotchety old man who despises trick-or-treaters? Wouldn't it be so easy to kill someone tonight? Do you dare venture to the darkest recess that your town would rather forget on All Hallows' Eve?
The key to understanding this film is the wonderful sense of mirth embedded within the yarns told. Writer/Director Dougherty exhibits a respect for the holiday; moreover, a palpable understanding of the horror genre and the strengths found in its anthology mold. There's no forced chair jumpers, orchestral stings, or incessant audience reminders of plot points. The stories aren't even broken up into individual segments like the traditional horror anthology with each instead interweaving over one fateful Halloween night involving the occupants of an archetypal Ohioan neighborhood.
It's a little hard to even dub the film an anthology; aside from the lack of a lead, the roaming nature of the narrative, and the initial monsters may not always being the worst. There's also a distinct sense that more often times than not the imagery is exactly how Dougherty envisioned in his mind's eye--which if present in other films is usually only felt once or twice. Not to mention the several times you hope the film does something that just would be so "right"...and it does. Of course, the director's consistently superb scope composition and coverage greatly helps along with Douglas Pipes' understated score and uniformly strong cast.
At a tight 82 minutes; Trick 'r Treat never wanes, its logic never jumbles, and watching it again is rewarding with its delightful foreshadowing (werewolves!). You won't see a reinvention of the genre, so don't go in with those expectations, but you will witness a horror movie that proves the genre still has a purity and vitality sadly only experienced in glimmers for what seems like decades. It's a crying shame Warner might have played studio politics with the release of this fantastic film, but if it took Singer's and Dougherty's Superman Returns to give birth to Trick 'r Treat, then bless that pile of forgettable superhero mediocrity. If there ever was an instant classic...