Friday, October 30, 2015

Trick 'r Treat

Year 7, Day 303 - 10/30/15 - Movie #2,188

BEFORE: An actor named C. Ernst Harth carries over from "Dreamcatcher", and that reminds me why I put my films in this order.   But I think things worked out well, "Dreamcatcher" being the last straight horror film that sort of tied a lot of themes together, and it's left me with three films directly related to Halloween itself, focusing on the celebration of the holiday, that is.  

Now I just need to apply this same organizational technique to my January list, which is still only half full.  I've got 13 films lined up in front of February's romance chain, and 31 after - so maybe I'll flip the whole chain around, and make those 31 films a solid tight January, or no, wait, I think I see a way to cut between the two chains and make something really interesting.  Damn, it all depends on what the first film in January is going to be, and right now I have no idea what that's going to be.  I also need to factor in films I might acquire in the next 2 months, and there's no way to predict that either.  Gah, this is maddening.  It's enough to drive me crazy.  OK, more crazy.

THE PLOT:  Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; and a mean old man meets his match.

AFTER: Full disclosure, the director of this film, Michael Dougherty, is an ex-co-worker of mine.  He went to NYU a few years after I did, and came up through the animation program, and this film is loosely based on an animated short that he made in college called "Season's Greetings".  That's where this character with the burlap scarecrow head and the orange pajamas first appeared.  "Sam" is his name, as it turns out, which is short for "Samhain", get it?  

And Sam is sort of the unifying element in these four (or is it 5?) little Halloween stories.  Sam also enforces the "rules" of Halloween - and there ARE rules.  Like, don't extinguish a jack o'lantern before Halloween is over, never go out alone, don't chase kids away from your door without giving them candy, and try not to kill too many people.  You know, don't be a dick, be excellent to each other. 

Wait, what was that about killing people?  Well, you should really only kill people who deserve to die, and that's where the scary part comes in.  You would like to think that karma's a bitch, and what comes around goes around, and tends to come knocking on your door on Halloween night.  

I tried watching parts of this once before, but I found it a little confusing.  Since the film jumps around liberally in time (you know, that old pet peeve of mine) and the movie sort of ends right where it began, the chronology takes a little effort to sort it all out.  But this may be one of the rare cases where it's worth the effort.  Yes, cause should come before effect, but suspense also needs to be maintained.  With repeated viewings this film could easily become the "Pulp Fiction" of Halloween. (Plus I think after you learn the twists the first time, the second time there will probably be a lot of inside jokes that you'll pick up on.)

You might see a character in distress in some way, or someone notable walking by in the background of one scene, and then a later story thread might pick up on who that background person is, and why they were in trouble, or about to be.  Everything is important, so watch carefully, and follow the rules.  Remember, TREAT people the way you want to be TREATED, and then maybe you won't deserve to get TRICKED.

Also starring Dylan Baker (last seen in "Random Hearts"), Anna Paquin (last seen in "Amistad"), Brian Cox (last heard in "Her"), Leslie Bibb (last seen in "Zookeeper"), Tahmoh Penikett (last seen in "Man of Steel"), Lauren Lee Smith (last seen in "Get Carter"), Rochelle Aytes, Moneca Delain, Quinn Lord, Brett Kelly, Britt McKillip, Isabelle Deluce, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Samm Todd.

RATING: 6 out of 10 urban legends

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