Did you really like Trick ‘r Treat? Guess what? This isn’t that long-rumoured sequel to the fantastic 2007 horror anthology. No, Trick is an original movie, out just in time for Halloween. Frequent collaborators Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer have re-assembled to deliver a neo-slasher movie for the holiday season. With lofty ambitions of becoming the next horror franchise, Trick promises an intriguing killer and set-up alongside plenty of slashing. Apparently, Trick missed out on a theatrical release, and critics have been less than kind. So does Trick have any treats for horror fans?
At a high school Halloween party, quiet and innocuous student Patrick ‘Trick’ Stewart’ goes on an inexplicable killing rampage. Despite his peers subduing him, Trick somehow breaks free at the hospital. Detective Mike Denver and Sheriff Lisa Jayne shoot Trick multiple times, sending him falling two stories from a hospital window. Though he should be dead, Trick’s body disappears. Now, every Halloween, Trick seemingly returns to continue his killing spree. With another Halloween approaching again, the obsessed Detective Denver is determined to stop a killer that may no longer be human.
Trick an Illogical, But Fast-Paced, Mess
Once upon a time, director Patrick Lussier looked like an heir apparent in the horror genre. After years of editing some high-profile horror movies (Scream,Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Mimic, Halloween: H20) scored a hit with his My Bloody Valentine remake. Then Lussier and, and frequent collaborator Todd Farmer, made the strange, but admittedly fun, Drive Angry. And then …. not much. Maybe Lussier’s contribution to the Terminator: Genisys screenplay railroaded his film-making career. Whatever the explanation, Trick represents a big step down for Lussier and Farmer. No, it’s not just the much lower budget. Both My Bloody Valentine and Drive Angry were over-the-top exercises in excess. But Trick asks too much from its audience.
Unfortunately, it’s a set-up that’s abruptly set aside to make room for scene after scene of blood and carnage.
Horror movies require a certain suspension of disbelief. An illogical mess of storytelling, Trick demands a total shutdown of common sense. There’s an interesting premise introduced early in the movie. Though it’s not necessarily original, Lussier and Farmer’s idea of an innocuous killer with no motive, no past sets up a potentially intriguing twist on the slasher. Unfortunately, it’s a set-up that’s abruptly set aside to make room for scene after scene of blood and carnage. Trick becomes an omnipresent antagonist who conveniently shows up to speed up the storytelling. As a result, Trick reduces some characters to generic stereotypes, like the ‘no-nonsense detective’, while failing to develop other characters at all. One character’s backstory feels so tacked on that you may need to rewind the movie to see if you missed a scene. And the less said about the movie’s unearned twist, the better.
Hey, At Least It’s Not Boring
With little adherence to any sort of story-telling logic, Trick is free to unleash almost non-stop slasher madness. If there’s anything good to say about Trick, it’s that the movie at least knows it can’t be boring. Lussier treats us to scene after scene of knife-slashing and stabbing bloodletting. Occasionally, Trick switches things up, and delivers a Saw-inspired deathtrap. Yet if the Saw series strained plausibility, Trick operates in a world where the law of physics don’t apply. Nonetheless, these scenes provide some slasher fun and the closest thing to suspense in the movie.
… Trick becomes repetitive pretty quickly. It’s mostly a lot of frenzied knife attacks that lack much in the way of set-up or inventiveness.
Though Trick delivers a lot violent action, slasher fan expectations may be under-served. Trick does a lot of slashing, and Lussier includes a lot of exaggerated, gross sound effects. In the movie’s opening scenes, there’s even plenty of blood spilled. Arguably, Trick’s opening is its best moment. Yet slasher films aren’t just defined by blood-letting; there’s also an expectation of elaborate death scenes. In this regard, Trick becomes repetitive pretty quickly. It’s mostly a lot of frenzied knife attacks that lack much in the way of set-up or inventiveness. But if you’re just looking for a body count, Trick delivers on that front.
Trick Suffers From Some Poor Film-Making
If there’s anything truly surprising about Trick, it’s the movie’s occasionally shoddy film-making. Lussier’s previous horror movies, including Dracula 2000, were slick affairs. Maybe budgetary constraints hampered some of the movie’s production. Whatever the issues, Lussier can’t seem to steady the camera for many of the movie’s action scenes. Though a couple of the death scenes are impressive, Trick’s action is often clumsily staged with poor editing. A screenplay laden with leaden dialogue doesn’t help much, either.
Whatever the issues, Lussier can’t seem to steady the camera for many of the movie’s action scenes
Even with some the recognizable names in the cast, the acting is a little underwhelming. Former House star, Omar Epps is stuck playing the all-too-familiar ‘obsessed, no-nonsense’ detective. Though he’s certainly good in the role, Epps periodically looks like he wishes he was in a different movie. Horror veterans Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps) and Jamie Kennedy (Scream) are on hand as well. It’s a nice tip of the hat to what’s come before in the genre. But their roles don’t amount to much more than genre lip service. In particular, Trick really wastes Kennedy in what’s really an extended cameo. As for the younger cast, they deliver some of the movie’s stiffer performance. In addition, one actor looks about 20 years too old to be playing a high school student.
Trick Reminds Us Why You Always Go With Treat
Clearly, Lussier and Farmer had ambitions for Trick becoming the next October horror tradition. Trick’s wide open ending all but begs for a sequel. Too bad Lussier and Farmer didn’t do enough to justify a follow-up with the 90 minutes or so they had in this movie. What’s really unfortunate is that there is an intriguing idea buried somewhere in the movie’s senseless twist. However, the idea is just tossed out, never even superficially explored. Not surprisingly, Wes Craven gave a similar theme a much better go in Scream 4. Ultimately, Trick is an almost nonsensical slasher that offers too few treat for horror fans.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: C
Trick’s big twist – Patrick ‘Trick’ Weaver is not a supernatural entity. Though he survived being shot and falling two stories, he’s bound to a wheelchair. How is he able to be everywhere then? There’s more than one ‘Trick’. Several minor characters, including one of the cops and a bartender who shows up in a throwaway scene, are all ‘Trick’. And the mastermind behind everything – Jamie Kennedy’s Dr Steven. Trick ends like a lame duck The Usual Suspects with Kennedy climbing into a car with the surviving ‘Tricks’, promising to recruit more killers. Oh, and Omar Epps’ Detective Denver survives despite being stabbed in the chest a dozen times.