Monday, July 23, 2007

Tricked Out

It’s not too often a major studio heads into the October Country (unless that studio is Dimension and it’s looking to team Michael Myers with another aging rap icon), let alone in the form of an anthology film, so when Dread Central broke the rumor that The Usual Suspects/Superman Returns director Bryan Singer’s company was producing a big-studio horror film set at Halloween called Trick ‘r Treat, to be written and directed by Singer’s Superman co-writer Michael Dougherty, I got far more excited about the project than the other Halloween-themed release coming this fall.

In fact, I kind of view the premise behind Trick ‘r Treat (which reportedly interweaves four loosely related short horror tales) as the Halloween treatments that never were. There was allegedly a time when Halloween producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill pushed to continue the Halloween franchise as an anthology series of new storylines unrelated to the Myers saga (ala the controversial Halloween III: Season of the Witch) but all set at or inspired by Halloween, which, considering the limitless potential, is a glorious idea. Especially given how the series has actually progressed. While Trick r Treat’s stories are apparently linked via a single central character (most likely one of evil intent), its anthology approach is ambitious and daring, considering most anthology films fail at the box-office no matter how good they are (the last major studio horror anthology to hit theaters was the underrated Tales From the Hood in 1995).

Equally bold and intriguing are many of the details and stills from Trick ‘r Treat that have been creeping out (like the haunting image above), giving me hope that this might be the 2007 equivalent of Haute Tension or The Descent -- sharp, potent movies outside the common boundaries of Hollywood horror (not surprisingly, both were imports) that nonetheless received wide theatrical releases.

That might be why the flms’s official trailer, which snuck onto the net last week, feels like just a bit of a buzzkill. As good previews should, it features some dynamic imagery and compelling hints, particularly regarding that schoolbus sequence, but there are a lot of moments in it that look like typical horror hokum.

The argument’s not new, but it’s clearly still valid: the most effective trailers are the ones that reveal the least. While the trailer for Trick ‘r Treat is hardly cause for writing off the film, it does undermine its own goals by removing the film’s mask a little too early.