Trick 'r Treat (Blu-ray) (2007)
Featurette-Trick 'r Treat: Season's Greetings
Featurette-Trick 'r Treat: the Lore and Legends of Halloween
Featurette-School Bus FX Comparison
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Michael Dougherty|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Films set on Halloween are about as original as films in which people kill each other. And films where multiple stories are used to build a central theme, only slightly more. But as other reviews have already pointed out, what many other films of this kind do poorly, Trick 'r Treat does well. As has also been pointed out, one secret to this is that the film gives the family-friendly Hollywood convention of how children behave a big one-finger salute. Children are killed, children kill, children leave each other to die, and anyone who thinks it is unusual for a seven year old boy to declare Charlie Brown (or whatever "child-oriented" character you care to name) to be "an asshole" is, themselves, an asshole. But the biggest strength of Trick 'r Treat by a long margin is the quality of its performances. Most of the performers seen in it are relative unknowns, but I am reminded of something True Blood executive producer Alan Ball said in a commentary. Paraphrasing, that when one of the women in your cast is Anna Paquin, you can expect better than normal performances out of your whole cast right off the bat.
Four stories that intersect to varying degrees are told during Trick 'r Treat's short running time. A boy goes stealing sweets and gets caught red-handed by a teacher called Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), who is not quite as nice or gentle as normal people would necessarily expect from a member of that profession. His nearest neighbour is a cantankerous old man known simply as Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), who is a bit of a shut-in with some bad memories. Meanwhile, a small group of children that look to be between ten and twelve years old go trick-or-treating and decide to take along a strange girl by the name of Rhonda (Samm Todd). And finally, a group of young adult women begin the evening by discussing both the men they plan on meeting up with, and the implied inexperience of one of their group, Laurie (Anna Paquin).
Please note that this paragraph reveals things about the plot, so don't highlight most of it if you want to be genuinely surprised by your first viewing. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) The whole conflict-complication-resolution relationship between the characters is only subtly drawn for the most part, but those that appear in multiple arcs such as Laurie and Kreeg are far better developed than one would expect from such a spartan running time. The moment when we learn that the references to Laurie's inexperience are more about her killing people, or that Kreeg was the bus driver, are masterful storytelling strokes. And any film where you cannot help thinking that most of the story is a big "screw you" to the people represented by one character ("Ladies, there are children out here!") gets top marks out of me.
The ultimate question, of course, is whether the disc is any good.
Trick 'r Treat is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.
This transfer is very sharp. Withered old men, rotten corpses, and general scenery are allowed to look their best. Shadow detail is excellent, as it should be. More than 95% of the film occurs at night, and a significant portion in places where in real life one would not be able to see more than three feet in front of one's face. These sequences are so rich in detail that the technical crew here deserves much commendation, as do the people responsible for preserving the quality of their work in the transfer. No low-level noise was evident.
The colours in the film are subdued, with one exception. For a film with this theme, there is surprisingly little blood on display, but when it does occur, it is very visible and bright. The transfer renders all colour beautifully, with no bleeds or misregistration in evidence.
The transfer was compressed using the VC-1 codec, and no artefacting was apparent. Being a progressive transfer, no aliasing was apparent either. No telecine wobble of any kind was observed. If there were any film artefacts, I blinked and missed them.
Subtitles are offered in English for the Hearing Impaired. These are pretty accurate to the spoken dialogue, with only very minor truncations.
The audio transfer is also excellent and for once with a Warners disc we are not bombarded with an abundance of cumbersome, unnecessary, and frankly annoying language options.
Four soundtracks are present on this disc. The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, which I listened to in its entirety. Dubs in French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 are offered, as is an English audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0, which I listened to in bursts. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is mentioned on the cover, but was not found on this disc.
The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand most of the time. Some of Samm Todd's lines are a little obscured, but this was deliberate, and little of what the character has to say is really that important anyway. Separation between the dialogue and other elements is very good. No problems were evident with audio sync.
The music in the film consists of small excerpts from contemporary songs (a cover of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) being the most memorable) and a score by Douglas Pipes. Both are used subtly and economically. The music will not win any awards, but it does the job well.
The surround channels are used in subtle, sparing ways to create a sound field that emphasises atmosphere over gimmickry. The infrequency with which directional or split surround effects are used tends to make them more noticeable, but in a good way.
The subwoofer is also used sparingly, in a subtle way, to emphasise music or bass-heavy sound effects. It did the job well, without calling undue attention to itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
A small smattering of extras are present on this disc. Unfortunately, the back cover claims that they are in High Definition. They may be exclusive to the Blu-ray Disc, as is stated in High-Def Digest's review of the Region A equivalent. They most emphatically are not, however, presented in High Definition.
As you can imagine from the job descriptions of the individuals listed, this is a very technical kind of commentary. It is mildly entertaining if you enjoy the specifics of how films get made, but the lengthy pauses and screen specificity in particular make me hesitant to recommend it, especially for repeat listening.
This is the one extra really worth talking about. It is a demo reel made by the writer/director that appears to have been used to generate interest from investors in Trick 'r Treat proper. Very rough around the edges, with optional audio commentary, it does merit more than one watching.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A version of the disc that I read about on High-Def digest appears to be available as a two-disc set with digital copy and BD-Live content. Given that the Region A version of the disc is actually Region-free, this can be considered a bit of a loss to the local market. But given the price at which I acquired the local disc, I am not exactly moved either way. In the end, it is the purchaser's call.
Trick 'r Treat is an excellent film for a number of reasons. Doing something original (or telling the audience that you are doing something original like some folks I will not mention here) is trumped by doing something well every time, for one thing. And any film in which Anna Paquin's character gets the upper hand over a man who thinks he is a great big predator is automatically worth watching. As the featurettes and cover blurb waste little time in pointing out, the writer/director is one of the people who worked on X2, and the quality of the story being told reflects this.
The video transfer is excellent. This is how those slasher, cheapie horror features I watched on VHS during the 1980s were supposed to look.
The audio transfer is also excellent. The atmospherics make it damned clear: this is why lossless audio compression is part of the BD-Video specification.
The extras are small in number, and entirely in standard definition. Very disappointing in light of the claims on the packaging.
|DVD||Panasonic DMP-BD45, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-P50U20A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer|