Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No, Not Seuss's Sam!

Last night Bart and I took a little dip into Halloween with a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. If you’re looking for a fun movie this season, this is it. If you want an absolutely scary movie to fill your sack, this is not it. It’s not flat out scary, no. But it’s not entirely a romp, either. It’s a fine line between genuinely creepy stuff and the frightfully funny. Then again, I wouldn’t call this film humorous at all. Actually, it’s a little more serious, as part of its goal is to bring to light some of the darker elements that make up this haunting holiday.

It’s told in a very excellent way. There are four stories going on in this movie, all intermingled and “followed” by a great character named Sam. Sam is “short” for Samhain (pronounced sah-win [or thereabouts]) which is a Celtic festival and the earliest origins of Halloween. Sam (pronounced as Sam) is the spirit of Halloween and he doesn’t like it when you break the strange rules of the holiday. Such as do not blow out a Jack-O-Lantern until Halloween is over. He’ll come to “play” if you do. I’m making it sound cheesy, but on the contrary, it’s done quite sinisterly in the film.

The movie jumps back and forth, putting up labels for “Later” or “Earlier” and you will then see in the “next” story the characters whose events you just watched walking by the “new” characters. Another example is two neighbors. Experience both sides of the fence at different times to be able to see the rest of the each story, with glimpses of each otherwise. I hope I’m making sense to you. If you’ve seen the episode of The Simpsons in which it’s divided into “Lisa’s Day,” “Bart’s Day,” “Homer’s Day,” etc. and you are only able to really know what caused certain events in each by seeing it from the other character’s perspective -- Trick ‘r Treat works much the same.

I also have to say that there are a lot of wonderful surprises in this movie.
Quite a few tricks that‘r definitely a treat. It’s clever, creepy and well crafted.

Bravo to writer and director Michael Dougherty. He wanted Sam to be the “missing” Halloween frontrunner character. (Xmas has Santa, Easter has Peter Cottontail, Valentine’s Day has Cupid, etc.) But Halloween does not have one. Hence, Dougherty went back to the ancient Celtic version. His pumpkin-head appearance pays homage the front-running icon of All Hallow’s Eve as well as the pumpkin-headed figures depicted throughout history. But never has there been a single, named entity. Unless you count Burton’s Jack Skellington. But that movie for me, although a technical marvel of stop-motion animation, is deeply flawed and half-baked story-wise. I’ll stick with Sam.

Do yourself a favor and celebrate with Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat.
Don’t make Sam come on October 31st any other way….MuhaHAHA!


Anon said...

There's also the Great Pumpkin, though I suppose technically no one's ever seen him or knows what he looks like--plus he might be copyrighted....

Peter said...

Oh, well, sure. There's the Great Pumpkin. I'm QUITE the fan of Peanuts. But as you said, he's not ever seen. And then there's the argument that he's "just" for/from the imagination of Linus Van Pelt.

But even so, he would still be generally imagined as a pumpkin-headed figure. (Even if the head encompassed the whole body, too.)

At this point SAM must be the property of Dougherty, too.