Directed by Patrick Lussier.
Starring Omar Epps, Jamie Kennedy, Tom Atkins, Ellen Adair, Vanessa Aspillaga, Alex Breaux, Kristina Reyes, Todd Farmer, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, and Aaron Dalla Villa.
A no-nonsense detective tries to track down a serial killer named Trick, who is terrorizing a small town.
Patrick Lussier’s Trick lives Halloween, breathes Halloween, and so desperately wants to be another Halloween marathon mainstay. A franchise-ready slasher figure with his own memorable gimmick (reversible mask, signature weapon)? Enter “Trick.” Possibly supernature massacres that occur every October 31st? Cue Trick’s revenge. Law enforcement officers who shrug off improbable happenings despite yearly copycat crimes? Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer do a lot right in Trick worth curious new-fiend-in-town looks, but it never feels like a reinvention of pure evil. More like bargain-bin candy that’ll please entry-level thrillseekers, but leave more refined palates demanding richer indulgence.
It’s Halloween night, October 2017 in Benton, New York, and Cheryl’s (Kristina Reyes) friends are playing a rousing game of “Spin the Dagger.” When it comes time for quiet loner Patrick aka “Trick” to go, he lands on a boy across the studuent circle. Instead of smooching his target, Patrick grabs the knife and goes on a killing spree that ends with multiple gunshot wounds and his body gone missing. The years after are filled with Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) tracking what appears to be Trick’s continued serial stabbings, every Halloween at a new town along the river Trick vanished into. Is Det. Denver too busy chasing ghosts to figure out who’s actually responsible?
In expected slasher fashion, Cheryl – who survives Trick’s first hack-and-slash outburst – returns home from college at the wrong time. Between herself, Det. Denver, another survivor Troy (Max Miller), and Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair), there’s too much history in one place for Trick to ignore. A town plagued by one cursed night relives hell as Trick slays anyone responsible for pain caused unto his paranormally-presented form. Innocents are put at risk – Dr. Steven (Jamie Kennedy), restaurateur and haunt owner Talbott (Tom Atkins), assorted friends – and Lussier never skimps on body count (some twenty victims later). “From the minds of Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine,” which shows.
Trick is, every bit, a contrived and familiar slasher framework that doesn’t earn points for breaking the mold (any of Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s varied Trick mask molds, to be exact). A masked killer stalks those who once escaped his grasp, teases police officers obsessed with his presence, and garners online fame as to comment on the morbid allure behind ritualistic killings.
You see, Trick has amassed online followers who yearn for yet another Halloween atrocity, which throws a wrench into Det. Denver’s conspiracy babble. Trick *can’t* be alive, it must be congregations carrying out his message of…uh…well, anarchistic executions. That’s the game we play as corpses pile higher. Is Trick back from the dead, unkillable, or are lookalikes in ghoul or skeleton makeup keeping his legend alive? It’s not exactly the most thought-provoking horror film, nor does it have to be. Lussier happily oversees another holiday-inspired “whodunnit” in slasher packaging, with a stronger focus on gore over reinvention.
Speaking to effects, you can predict Trick’s budget by the number of knife-puncture fatalities (Trick’s blade reading “Trick” or Treat” etched into each side). You’ll become familiar with his blade, as only a few deaths implement wilder means of execution like an outdoor beheading that features an oh-so-prosthetic head rolling around. Lussier’s effects team works within their means, but energetically pumps fake blood out open wounds. Multiple kills and jolts exploit Talbot’s haunted attraction maze (scare actor decoys) and George A. Romero’s public domain masterpiece, Night Of The Living Dead, which is juxtaposed against actual horrors happening to Cheryl’s squad. Halloween vibes are amped by orange light filtration, costumed teens meeting ultimately demises, and repetition is barely avoided thanks to the brutality of Trick’s aka “Parkour Sam From Trick ‘r Treat‘s” aggressive attacks.
Performatively, motivations are projected at surface value and actors run through their designated arcs. Epps the shamed investigator who obsesses over suspect sketches, crime scene photos, and who walks a fine line between personal stakes and professional dedication. Reyes as the “final girl” type who is forced to conquer demons from once she fled. A grungy Kennedy, still shotgun-ready Atkins, and countless others either obstacles or extra victims for Trick to chop through. The kind of film where Aaron Dalla Villa can portray a varsity-jacket bro dubbed “Smooth Johnny,” who walks into diner crowds like a king, immediately hamming up dialogue. Performers know their roles, play them as dictated, and – again – leave not much to surprise. That’s not a bad thing! Some actors just seem to have more energy than others.
Trick attempts to carve a franchisable tradition, which on lesser budgets could be manageable depending on how this scarezone slash-em-up goes over. There’s merit to Patrick Lussier’s fast-paced seasonal frights, they just never reach that next level like equal urban legends Hatchet or Laid To Rest. Trick will be enough for genre rookies who unwrap a random VOD watch, but veterans of the grotesque won’t be surprised by Trick’s dark delecacies no matter what rubberized head cover he’s wearing. A fine concept, fine watch, and fine experience on the whole – even with “leaps in logic” that plague so many horror films more focused on summoning (read: forcing) an undying genre legacy.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).