Trick bills itself as a new breed of slasher film–which, to be fair, is how most new slasher films bill themselves–and that’s apparent from the offset. Sure, this is a movie about a masked teenager who goes on a killing spree on Halloween night and then returns on subsequent Halloween nights to continue to murder and maim despite the fact that he ought to be dead–but here’s the kicker: Our boy Trick stabs up like four different Halloweens within the first hour alone!
What’s the most Michael Myers has done in a single film? One? Two, maybe? Wow, what a worthless little baby. Guess that horror fossil has to tuck himself in, because he just doesn’t have the stamina to stab with the big boys anymore.
But seriously, Trick is nothing special.
Director: Patrick Lussier
Release Date: October 18, 2019 (Limited, VOD)
Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) is a man on a mission after a good ol’ game of spin-the-knife goes horribly wrong at a high school Halloween party. Patrick “Trick” Weaver murders a slew of teens before being stabbed himself and heading off to the hospital. Doctor Steven (Jamie Kennedy) tends to the killer, but our psycho somehow frees himself from his restraints (of course) and kills a few more folks before Mike and Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair) shoot him a bunch and he falls out a window. His body disappears, however, and even though he ought to be dead, the next year some teens looking to make out get themselves good and knifed up. Then, another Halloween reaches a violent end, followed by yet another as Trick gains a viral fanbase. All the while Mike seems to be at the center of Trick’s taunting, as if he’s being haunted by the spirit of pure evil itself.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as Trick attempts to pass itself off as a more realistic slasher. A bold move, given that this is every bit as absurd and unbelievable as any old nightmare-haunting child murderer or drowned teen resurrected as a body builder with a machete.
Despite some sharper than usual dialog and above standard performances (especially from the great Tom Atkins as one very surly small town minister), Trick doesn’t have much in its bag. Coming from the duo behind Drive Angry–a movie that left nothing on the table–Trick disappointingly lacks much imagination. The slasher himself has little thought to his characterization. He has a very Hot Topic-friendly knife that reads Trick on one side and Treat on the other, but it doesn’t matter which side shows–you get stabbed either way. Slasher films thrive on their villains who have backstories and lore and rules (which they either do or don’t abide to depending on how deep into the series we’ve fallen). Trick only has two interesting kills, both beheadings, and is left wanting for supernatural powers or hooks. He’s just a killer who kills on Halloween with a knife. This might come as a surprise, but I’ve actually seen that a few times before.
Lussier and writer Todd Farmer toy with neat concepts throughout the film. Early, you get the idea that maybe Trick sets up elaborate traps to, you know, trick people into dying. That doesn’t pan out. He flirts with a certain pumpkin motif where it seems his calling card is that everywhere he goes turns immediately into a jack-o-lantern clogged haunted house–but he doesn’t even wear the pumpkin mask for most of the movie, opting instead for some face paint reminiscent of a goth cosplaying The Crow. Trick feels like a franchise already four installments deep slinging ideas at the wall to keep a dwindling audience from zoning out.
To its credit, Trick does at least accomplish that base-level task. It’s not a boring film. Someone’s always either dying, dead, or in danger of becoming dead, thanks to the crammed script. That said, there are no jarring surprises. Nothing will rattle you in your seat or stick in the back of your mind. Only expendable characters die. The killer gets suspiciously (and conveniently) sloppy in the last act. Twists elicit eye-rolls over gasps. It’s fine while it’s flashing in front of your eyes, but Trick‘s a bit of candy forgotten as soon as it’s swallowed. It’s the epitome of empty calories.
It also ends with a stinger that paints Jamie Kennedy as a psychotic murder-cult mastermind for a potential sequel, and for some that may render all my previous criticism null and void.