Tag Archives: Dylan Baker

30 Days of Madness, Day 30 — Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

by Tom Kapr

Wherein I attempt to watch one new-to-me horror film every day of October till Halloween and write a quick review. I will end my review with a letter grade like we do on our podcast (A, B, C, D, or F–pluses and minuses are for the non-committal!) and with the movie’s rank on my Flickchart.

trickrtreat2

Written & directed by Michael Dougherty. Produced by Bryan Singer.

Starring Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, Quinn Lord & Anna Paquin.

Trick ‘r Treat  is a rollercoaster ride. I am a fan of horror anthology films like Creepshow and Cat’s Eye. I was both intrigued and hesitant to watch this. I have a strange relationship with horror. I love horror, and exploring the things that horrify, but I do not like watching a lot of nastiness. The problem with a lot of horror films is that they are made by filmmakers who seem to have nothing but contempt for their characters.

Trick ‘r Treat is nasty, to be sure, but has enough love for the characters and stories and is crafted well enough to be enjoyable as a sort of quintet campfire of campfire tales. It also sets itself apart from other anthologies, such as the ones I mentioned, with its strong narrative structure. It doesn’t need to break away from one story altogether before telling another. All four main stories are interwoven–one is happening, noticeably, while another is taking place, and all occur on a single Halloween night in a single small town–and are bookended by a fifth story that gives the film a satisfying sense of coming full-circle.

The film quickly establishes that nobody is safe from the horrors running amok in this town on this night, children included–part of the reason I was hesitant to watch. I’ve stated in previous reviews that I didn’t enjoy watching children get gunned down for the sake of an action movie. And I’m not saying I enjoy similar fates in this film, but the nature of film gives it all a very contemporary fairy tale feel; and anyone familiar with the fairy tales of old know that children, especially naughty and nasty ones, are fodder fit for the terrors that lurk in the dark.

Brian Cox and Dylan Baker, especially, turn in great performances that revel in the ridiculousness and of their respective stories. And Anna Paquin is just fine in a tale that has not one but two satisfying twists. The reason I make mention of Quinn Lord in my cast list above is that he plays Sam, the burlap sack mask-wearing “child” who acts as a sort of connective tissue, making appearances in each segment, much in the way the cat did in Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye. Sam instantly becomes one of the most iconic and beloved horror characters in cinema. Just a creepy presence that eventually becomes much more for one or two unfortunate souls.

I am so glad this one got voted through as my final film of the month. It’s a great scary, fun flick, which, as an added bonus, is full of old-school practical effects that rank among the best. And any horror movie that references Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is okay by me. It’s a fine ending to month of horror movies.

Final grade: A

My Flickchart ranking: #614 (out of 3275, a relative 81/100)

30 Days of Madness, Day 23: Fido

Fido (2006) Written by Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie & Dennis Heaton. Directed by Andrew Currie. Starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker, K’Sun Ray, Henry Czerny, Tim Blake Nelson.

Dad likes a good funeral, as long as there is a separate head coffin.

Fido sort of picks up where Shaun of the Dead left things, with zombies being assimilated back into society as manual laborers–if Shaun of the Dead had ended in 1950s American suburbia. This film mixes two of my favorite things: it’s a zombie flick with a 1950s retro-aesthetic. And I love that the film opens with a schoolroom full of kids being shown a black-and-white educational short film reel about the “zombie war” and its causes and effects. It’s a clever way to bring the audience up to speed and set up the premise–a world where zombies are an part of everyday life.

Timmy’s father wants nothing to do with him and his mother gives him only the pretense of attention–she’s actually more worried about how his being bullied or his response to his father’s neglect affects the neighbors’ perception of her than about his feelings. Timmy also has a lot of questions about zombies that most seem afraid or embarrassed about. So when mom buys their first zombie, Timmy soon goes from seeing it as a thing to liking it as a pet to developing something closer to a human relationship with it. (It soon becomes clear that naming the kid “Timmy” is a Lassie reference.) Even Mom starts taking an interest.

I have to say that Carrie-Anne Moss is positively smoldering in this film.

Carrie-Ann Moss, Dylan Baker, Henry Czerny, and Tim Blake Nelson are all great in their roles as typical 1950s adults dealing with the usual 1950s issues of status, public intimacy, repressed emotions, corporate loyalty, and zombiphobia. And of course, there is Billy Connolly, walking (or maybe shuffling) the fine line between zombie and human.

My only quibbles with Fido are that the climactic scene at Zomcon headquarters needed to be more thought out–perhaps they were cramming to keep it close to a 90-minute running time–and that the child actors tend to be distracting, either not well-cast or not well-directed. Other than that, it’s a great movie and goes immediately into my zombie movie canon.

My Netflix rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

–Tom Kapr