Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat has become an annual Halloween-viewing tradition for me. In it, four stories set on Halloween intersect, and although each of them have their own defined story to tell, the characters make appearances in all of the stories based on the timeline of events. It's a narrative metaphor for the spirit of Halloween, and Sam, the killer pumpkin who is one of the defining threads in each of the shorts, is the symbol for keeping that spirit alive.
I've seen Trick 'r Treat a number of times, read the comic that was released along with it, and every year I sit down to watch it again. This Halloween, I watched it with my parents - their first time seeing it, my second time watching it this year. I don't think they found it as groundbreaking for the Halloween tradition as I did; my sister kept questioning the plot, saying it didn't make sense even after I tried to explain that Trick 'r Treat doesn't feature a traditional narrative, and my mom didn't like the gore. But you can't please everyone.
Despite the number of times I've seen Trick 'r Treat, though, I picked up on a few moments that I had missed, either because they're so quick that it's hard to catch them or because I just wasn't paying close enough attention. Here are five treats I finally picked up on in Trick 'r Treat.
1. Cover up those scarecrows!
In the opening sequence, a couple comes home from a Halloween party. The man's still in the mood for Halloween, but his wife just doesn't feel the love for spooky stuff, remarking that the yard looks "like a crime scene." She starts picking up while trick-or-treaters are still frolicking about the street; she blows the jack-o-lantern out, takes down the severed leg from a tree, and pulls off all the sheets from wooden scarecrows. Sam ain't happy about that, so he makes her into his own scarecrow. Then her husband finally comes out to investigate.
What I never noticed, though, is when her husband comes out of the house. All of the sheets are magically back on the scarecrows, all of the decorations are again hanging from the trees. It's like his wife started cleaning up, then forgot all about it. I like that Sam after murdering the woman, felt the need to go through the yard and redecorate to stage the murder scene - it's something I didn't catch until now, but a small detail that makes these scene even more delicious.
2. Schrader gets a cart ride
The first short story involves a kid who smashes jack-o-lanterns, steals candy, and wears a shirt that says "This is my costume." What a douche, you think - who doesn't want to get into the spirit of Halloween? Apparently not this kid, because he has a grand old time walking up and down the sidewalks, pushing jack-o-lanterns off a fence - the wrong person's fence, however, because he ends up poisoned and vomiting gallons of chocolate onto the sidewalk.
A quick shot during the smashing-pumpkins scene, however, shows a kid with pumpkins in a shopping cart behind Mr. I-Hate-Halloween. This boy is Schrader, who we will eventually see ripped to pieces by zombie children in a later story. Schrader even comments that someone smashed all of the pumpkins around town. This quick snippet is key, because without it, the two stories are only linked by a passing comment. If you're not paying attention, though, it's easy to miss this scene, or worse, wonder why some kid is running around with a shopping cart.
3. Wheezing Mr. Creeg
If you haven't seen Trick 'r Treat yet, first of all, hop on it. But this is going to contain spoilers, so you've been warned. Mr. Creeg is a cranky old neighbor, played by Brian Cox, who once drove a bus-full of mentally retarded kids into a lake because their parents paid him to do it. Plagued by those memories, he despises Halloween. We see the incident occur that fateful Halloween ago but don't know that it's the same Mr. Creeg in present-day until the end of the film, in a couple of photographs.
But there's another clue that reveals the bus driver to be Mr. Creeg. After the bus driver climbs out of the water during the bus-sinking scene, he wheezes much the same way old Mr. Creeg does on Halloween night. Old Mr. Creeg probably has emphysema or something, but young Mr. Creeg is breathing so heavily because of his struggle not to drown. Whatever the case, the sound seems to be yet another indication of the connection to Mr. Creeg, one that you'll notice only after viewing the film in its entirety.
4. Cat's in the bag
In an early scene, trick-or-treaters visit killer Steven's house to get some delicious candy. Who else would be behind them but Sam, who quickly grabs a 100 Grand bar and shuffles down the stairs. He drags his trick-or-treat bag with him, but inside is not candy - if you listen careful, you can hear the soft squeak of a cat being bumped against the stairs.
Later on, a quick glimpse of Sam thirty years ago shows him picking up a dead bird (or bat) and stuffing it into his bag. Apparently the spirit of Halloween likes to collect animals for later use, whatever that may be.
5. Hot dog Halloween
When Schrader, Macy, Sara, and Chip stop at their teacher's house to pick up some jack-o-lanterns, they see a little more than they bargained for - to wit, most of the school staff grinding on each other in a drunken haze. As they peer into the shadowy house, we catch a glimpse of a man in a hot dog costume rubbing his wiener (the costume, you hog) against another woman.
Later, in the werewolf-transformation scene towards the end of the film, the hot dog costume can be seen lying on the ground empty. Maybe a lonely woman lured the hot dog man to the werewolf mating site, where he became the meat of the party.
These are all very minor moments in a film full of great Halloween tricks, but they show that Trick 'r Treat is focused just as much on the small details as the overall intersecting storyline. And if you watch the film every year for Halloween like I do, there still might be some little things you didn't notice your first, fourth, or tenth time viewing it. Happy Halloween!