Trick Movie Review: Halloween Horror in Full Force

Trick  Movie Review: Halloween Horror in Full Force

This has proven to be a chiller-killer year for slasher movies centered around the traditions of October. From Candy Corn, Haunt, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Uncanny Annie, and now Trick, genre fans have plenty of new Halloween-horror offerings to choose from this October.

I have loved the collaborations between director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer in the past – they’re the duo behind My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Drive Angry—because they are such fun, irreverent and over-the-top. With Trick, though, the team decided to play it straight and somber. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but going against their proven formula doesn’t quite work in this case.

Here’s the setup: A few Halloween nights ago, Patrick “Trick” Weaver (Thom Niemann, “The Deuce”) massacred his classmates at a costume party after being forced to kiss a boy in a twisted game of truth or dare (trick or treat, in this case). After being arrested, the troubled teen managed to escape police custody… after being shot repeatedly by Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) and jumping out a high window. Everyone believes that Trick must have crawled away only to drown in the nearby river, but when a killer with the same M.O. wreaks havoc the following Halloween, and every Halloween after that, it becomes clear that the nightmare is not over.

The first act of Trick is quite engrossing and suspenseful, even when the cops do some not-so-smart things—in one scene, a female police officer is attacked by the trickster and horribly wounded… so naturally Denver leaves her alone as a vulnerable target for no good reason—it’s okay because the death scenes are well-done. Lussier and Farmer devised these kills, but it’s special effects whiz Gary J. Tunnicliffe who really brings these deaths to life. Tunnicliffe, best-known for his gallons of gore in the Hellraiser franchise, holds nothing back in Trick.

Old-school horror fans will be happy to see Tom Atkins (Halloween III, The Fog, Two Evil Eyes) in a small but pithy role. Ellen Adair (“The Sinner”), who plays Sheriff Lisa Jayne, is good too. Even screenwriter Farmer pops in playing a cop who will stop at nothing to see Trick caught and condemned.

The movie is beautifully shot by Amanda Treyz (Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series) and ably directed by Lussier. Farmer’s plotting is solid. But the pacing is plodding… I guess if I have to point a finger, the fault must lay in the editing. And the lack of humor. Lussier and Farmer are at their best, both collectively and separately when they’re being mischievous. The balance between good horror and good comedy is almost impossible to achieve, so in my opinion, the team should stick with their proven schtick.

Having said that, Trick is certainly worth a look on a dark and chilly night this Halloween season. It’s out now, in a limited theatrical release.

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