Trick ‘r Treat vs. Halloween
What is THE Halloween movie? What do you watch after the trick-or-treaters have gone home and the Jack o’Lanterns are burning low?
The knee-jerk reaction might be to say Halloween. I mean, after all, the title of the movie is Halloween. The movie is set on Halloween. The soundtrack has become synonymous with the holiday itself.
While I do watch Halloween every October, not only the original but multiple offerings from the franchise, I respectfully disagree. For me, there is only one film for All Hallows Eve: Trick ‘r Treat.
Every year, after we have spent the October weeks hitting pumpkin patches and haunted houses, on Halloween night after we have extinguished the porch light and put our own weary trick-or-treaters to bed, we turn on Trick ‘r Treat. We stumbled up on the movie by accident one year and assumed it was going to be terrible and campy, and yet we discovered it was sheer festive brilliance.
Trick ‘r Treat is not another horror movie that takes place on Halloween. It does not rely on stock imagery of fog engulfed streets or flickering Jack o’Lanterns. Rather, Trick ‘r Treat is an interwoven set of anthology stories about Halloween. The spirit of Halloween, the traditions and superstitions undermining the holiday are the theme and essence of the film.
Trick ‘r Treat does, of course, unfold on Halloween night. It has costumed children taking flickering Jack o’Lanterns to the site of a tragic local lore. It has drunken adults looking to get lucky at throbbing Halloween parties. It has naughty children betraying the rules of Halloween. All the archetypes and tropes that come to mind around Halloween appear and are cleverly woven together to the spooky lover’s delight.
However, what ultimately makes Trick ‘r Treat my Halloween movie is Sam. Sam appears as an observant, childlike trick-or-treater on the peripheral of each tale. Yet Sam is actually Samhain, the embodiment of the spirit of Halloween, and later the enforcer of the traditions of the holiday. When Sam’s rules are not followed, things get ugly.
Distilled down, Halloween is ultimately a slasher movie. If you changed the title and shifted the timeline and setting, the movie and Michael Meyers could still exist successfully. It would still function in the subgenre. Plenty of the other entries in the franchise wander away from the holiday. Halloween may have the soul of a killer, but it does not have the spirit of Halloween in its essence.
That spirit is where Trick ‘r Treat is different, is more than other horror movies. A manifestation of Samhain trails through the reels as the underlying current of the culminating narratives is Halloween tradition. The film as a whole can be taken as a campy cautionary tale to heed the superstitions and the rules in an increasingly detached and non-participatory world. Trick ‘r Treat pushes us to remember the Halloween spirit, and the perfect time for that is Halloween night itself.
Lest you blow out your Jack o’Lantern too soon and meet Sam with his sharpened sucker in the dark.
Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade. In college, she pursued a professional writing degree and started publishing small scale. With the realities of paying bills, she started working as a technical writer and document manager, traveling to Iraq as a contractor and eventually becoming a trainer and software developer. She avidly hosted multiple blogs on Iraq, bipolar, pregnancy, running. Limitless Publishing released her novel The Rest Will Come. HellBound Books Publishing published her two novellas Savages and The Waning. She is also featured in over ten horror anthologies, including Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, Graveyard Girls, Carnival of Nightmares, and Demonic Wildlife. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her non-writing time running, doing yoga and barre, belly dancing, taking pictures, traveling, and sucking all the marrow out of life.
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