Bag Of Tricks
by Brody Rossiter
We all have our own Halloween traditions. Whether it’s turning out the lights and hiding behind the sofa while sugar hungry demons congregate upon your doorstep, or accompanying one of those grim munchkins around the nearby housing estate alerting them to the doors which mustn’t be knocked due to ancient feuds (harsh words were exchanged over parking spaces last summer). Regardless, rules are rules, and one must adhere to such unwritten laws to celebrate seasonal events correctly… or else.
If you’re a bad little boy or girl at Christmas you get coal. Ironically, if you’re a bad at Halloween you get far more than you could ever hope for – in fact, you really, really wouldn’t want any of these terrifying gifts. Michael Dougherty’s 2007 Horror anthology, Trick ‘R Treat, presents four diverse horror tales all linked together by the common gnarled thread of Sam, a mysterious child adorned in orange pyjamas and a burlap sack.
Those who loved the playful yet frightful spills and chills of Goosebumps will delight in this distinctly more adult collection of tales that materialise as if they are a spiritual successor to the celebrated show (side note: Goosebumps was hardcore and there’s no way that show would air with the same content today). From a child-murdering principal portrayed by Dylan Baker to Anna Paquin’s depiction a young virginal woman’s unlucky encounter with a vampiric partygoer, the tales are all unique yet interweave amongst the inhabitants of the same American small town.
There’s a clear emphasis upon children throughout Trick ‘R Treat, as the narratives repeatedly situate them as protagonists, antagonists and victims of monstrous adults who break away from their everyday inhibitions over the holiday. While whimsical scoring and elaborate, vibrant visuals ensure the content never grows too overwhelming, the dark acts inflicted upon kids – some of whom a clearly vulnerable – is still often difficult to stomach. Swarming with creatures of all different shapes, sizes, origins and states of mortality, Trick ‘R Treat is a brilliantly cast and wonderfully well-written assortment of horror tales that celebrates classical campfire storytelling while offering up a fresh and unashamedly taboo take on the such ghoulish myths.