Saturday, July 19, 2014

Trick or Treats - Review - @BrandonCSites


Trick or Treats (1982) *
D: Gary Graver
C: Jacqueline Giroux, Peter Jason, Chris Graver, Carrie Snodgrass, David Carradine, Steve Railsback, Jillian Kesner, Paul Bartel

Plot Synopsis: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy's deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit. 

REVIEW: In the introductory scenes of Trick or Treats, a woman plots to have her husband locked in a loony bin unbeknownst to dear old hubby. How her husband is unaware of what's happening, is something that the film refuses to explain. After all, you would think that there would either be a court hearing, a psychological evaluation or something to that degree. In the world of Trick or Treats, this wife character seemingly calls the people who run the mental ward and tells them they need to come get her husband. It's never a good sign when the foundation for a film is as ludicrous as they come. 

Flash forward a couple of years later and her husband, who is now locked up in a mental institution, plots to escape on Halloween night so that he can seek revenge on his wife. Unbeknownst to him, his wife is out of town and in her place, is a babysitter who is watching over their son.


The son plays one endless prank after another on the babysitter. You would think after the first two pranks, the babysitter would stop falling for these pranks, but no, she continues to fall for them over and over again. And the reaction is always the same. First, there's fear. Secondly, there's anger when the babysitter realizes it's a prank. And third, the kid gets a good laugh that he was able to prank the babysitter. Eventually, these scenes become monotonous, because the film is repeating the same thing with the same results.

Getting back to the father, after escaping from the mental institution, he dons a wig & a nurse's outfit as he hits the streets to make his way home. The father, as played by Peter Jason, makes no attempt to make sure that he could pass for a woman, yet men come onto him thinking he's a woman. These attempts at comedy simply don't work, because the foundation for these scenes is never credible. Also, in a film, about a man seeking revenge, these comedic elements feel out of place with what the film is trying to accomplish story wise.

To pad out the running time, the babysitter hears a spooky noise or two and then out of nowhere, a cat jumps across the screen. In most horror films, these false scares can be good for a laugh or two, but since the story is padded out to begin with, these scenes feel inexcusable.

Eventually, dear out dad makes his way home, but of course, we knew that. The finale is a given. The only question is, "will dear old dad kill the babysitter or will the babysitter be able to outwit him"? And again, I think it's a given as to how this scenario is going to unfold. And the worst part is, it takes nearly 80 minutes of the 91 minute running time to arrive at this point.

There's a final plot twist, but instead of this plot twist being developed in any meaningful way, the film simply ends there. It's not until this final plot twist, that the film seems to come alive. Too bad it's at the 89 minute mark! Instead of watching endless scenes in which the kid pranks the babysitter or of the father trying to make it home to exact revenge, I wish that the second act had been trimmed and that the plot twist had been expanded upon. This would have resulted in a film that was more balanced structurally with a more defined first, second and third act. 

On the technical front, the cinematography, score and performances are all serviceable. They don't do anything to enrich the film, but they don't do anything to detract from it either. Even with competent production values, Trick or Treats couldn't have been saved. It's a waiting game of sorts, but with too little story to maintain itself. Instead of building suspense or involving us with the characters, viewer patience is tested in endlessly drawn scenes that don't amount to much of anything. After awhile, you'll want to yell at the film, to get this show on the road. [R] 91 mins. 

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