It’s hard not to love a movie where Tom Atkins is strutting around throwing out quippy one-liners and Jamie Kennedy plays a surly doctor with a ponytail. At least, it is for me. Happily, there are plenty of other reasons to find enjoyment in Patrick Lussier’s Trick, his third collaboration with writer Todd Farmer (My Bloody Valentine 3D, Drive Angry). Gore hounds will rejoice at the buckets of blood spilled while fans of the near-mythic slashers of yore should find themselves intrigued by the mysterious Trick, the film’s seemingly supernatural killer who wields mayhem and madness as expertly as his signature hunting knife.
The small, suburban communities of the Hudson River Valley are finding themselves terrorized by a yearly plague of murder and carnage. Every Halloween since 2015, a masked, knife-wielding psychopath nicknamed “Trick” has sliced and diced the denizens of New York’s quaintest villages in brutal fashion. At least, so local legend claims. The authorities are less certain, however, because Patrick “Trick” Weaver (Thom Niemann) was stabbed, shot, and fell from a window the night of his first killing spree back in 2015. All the subsequent killings have matched Patrick’s modus operandi, spurring the myth of Trick, but the police are unconvinced the slayings are the work of one individual. Only Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) believes that “Trick” is somehow still alive, and he’s determined to stop him before the bloodbath continues.
Trick is a party film, a movie best viewed in the company of like-minded slasher enthusiasts in a relaxed, comfortable environment. As both an homage to the slasher heydey of the 80’s and an attempt to replicate that success with something fresh and twisted, Trick knows what it’s about. There’s large gaps in logic that aren’t filled in by the third act reveal of the central mystery. While this would sink most other films, Lussier and Farmer instead make the decision to take the lunacy of the solution behind Trick’s supernatural prowess and crank it up to sheer, implausible ridiculousness. If you’re willing to go along with their bonkers all-in, it makes for a thrilling ride. The plethora of gruesome, outlandish death scenes that would fit easily into any later Friday the 13th film--all done with practical effects--will also make for good party fodder.
Accolades should be given to the very game, very able cast for helping Trick avoid parody while still maintaining its sense of fun. As mentioned, I found horror icon Tom Atkins to be a particular standout. You can tell he’s having a blast playing the hero in a genre film again, and there’s a moment late in the second act that nods to his legendary role in Night of the Creeps (1986) that will have diehard fans and old school horror aficionados cheer. Ellen Adair (Homeland) also makes an impression as the pragmatic sheriff willing to entertain Denver’s belief that Trick descends each Halloween like a cosmic curse. She channels all the devoted deputies of slashers past while still making the character her own.
For as much as Trick is an ode to slashers, it is also an ode to Halloween. The film is decked out in spooky decorations, trick-or-treaters, and holiday iconography, not to mention being packed to the gills with jack-o-lanterns. The love for All Hallow’s Eve is apparent and is felt in every frame. That adoration alone could seal Trick as a staple in future Halloween movie marathons. Trick himself could easily become a go-to Halloween costume. Though his look changes throughout the film, there’s something for everyone, from store-bought rubber monster masks to greasepaint face makeup and a dark hoodie. I think he’ll strike a cord with slasher fans, though; a curious combination of Ghostface and Sam from Trick ‘r Treat (2007), he’s fast, unforgiving, and plays by a set of rules only he can understand.
Early on in the film, one of the characters promises “blood and guts from dusk till dawn.” It’s a fitting tagline for Trick as a whole, and with all that gore packed in, there’s no room for much logic, but that’s alright. Trick is here to entertain you more than pick your brain, and in that endeavor it succeeds without question. Though a bit overlong, it’s not garrulous to sit through, and there’s not much downtime between thrills. Or kills, for that matter. If you’re a fan of wild, over-the-top love letters to all things slasher and all things Halloween, give Trick a try. It’s competently directed, well-shot, and full of delicious nonsense. In other words, it’s a real treat.
Trick hits the town on VOD/Digital Oct 18th from RLJE.
By Craig Ranallo