Obviously, the night of All Hallow’s Eve means something quite special to we fans of horror — it’s pretty much the only day of the year that’s really for us. For many of us, this stems back to our youth, parading around in our costumes, knocking on doors, and watching the local channel’s “horror marathon” that used to consist of heavily-edited oldies but goldies. Thrown in with this were the shows geared for us kids like Halloween-themed Looney Tunes, shows like Bunnicula, and good ol’ staples like It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Our wonderment grew from this to bigger and better (and scarier) fare, with the network butchery of genre films giving way to more graphic butchery on pay-tv channels, and onward to real-deal horror flicks as we grew to go to the flicks ourselves, ultimately beginning our own home video collections of the macabre.
The latest film I’ve watched to plumb the dark depths of Halloween is A Tricky Treat, penned by Kamal John Iskander and directed by Patricia Chica.
A seemingly typical nuclear family begin their preparations for the spectacle of Halloween night. Mom and the kids are busily preparing the kitchen for a little holiday tradition, whilst dad is out, seeking just the perfect specimen for the family’s purpose. It’s here that the narrative goes off the rails — an instant of brutality leads to a gruesome, gory family night, the parents and children gleefully reveling in the creation of their favorite Halloween décor…
OK, even my purposefully vague summary probably gives you Fellow Fans out there more than enough of a clue to exactly what’s going on here (and the pictures certainly contribute to any theories running through your minds at the moment), but I assure you, there’s still a little more than you expect. I won’t go into any more detail, but I will say that my mind went down one, expected path, and was suddenly (and rather comically, in a dark way) smacked in the kisser with the ending reveal. It’s not in any way what I expected, even though contextually it’s painfully obvious.
You don’t really see any faces (well, one, but his performance is…er…somewhat static) through the three-minute or so runtime of the film, but there’s no mistaking what’s happening in the scenes — the voice-over work is well-written and delivered, and it sounds for all the world like family conversations I’m sure many of you out there could recall from Halloweens gone by. The effects are very gruesome and unflinching, but there’s a purpose for that.
Overall, Chica’s set-ups and angles are economic, but that’s certainly not meant to speak poorly of them — indeed, production values are high, and the overall product is clean and concise — all I mean to say is that in the small setting and only shooting from close perspectives, I think her blocking and framing serves the purpose of the narrative beautifully.
Of course, there will be those that are put off by some aspects of it (some folks just might feel the last few seconds push them out of the moment), and I can understand that perspective to a point; some of us don’t put as much stock in the nostaligic end and just want that gutz-n-gore — and more power to them! That’s what keeps the genre interesting.
For me though, A Tricky Treat was a fun little horror vignette — going back to my introduction, I have to say that, for me, this short bridges the gap between childhood Halloween shows and my adult love of horror. By providing a blackly comedic, horrific take on Halloween tradition and twisting the concepts around to serve a sinister yet fitting homage to the holiday, I found it to be a treat indeed.
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