Torin Langen's horror anthology 3 Dead Trick or Treaters is a film that I've been wanting to check out since seeing the film's teaser last year. Now that it's nearly mid-November, snow has already fallen, and the post Halloween blues have set in, I figured there was no better time for one last Halloween treat.
Before writing this film off as just another run of the mill horror anthology, you should know that the film features no dialogue at all. Instead, it relies on the gestures and emotions of the actors, a magnificent score, and the perfect Fall atmosphere to convey it's story. Relying on these things to create an enjoyable viewing experience is no easy feat and thankfully, everything works perfectly. From the very first scene, I was sucked into the Autumnal beauty that's ever so brilliantly displayed in 3 Dead Trick or Treaters. Burnt orange leaves rustle in the wind, remains of jack-o-lanterns are scattered about, and a brooding score coaxes me deeper into a Halloween universe that I won't soon forget.
Four tales and a wrap-around segment compose 3 Dead Trick or Treaters, all of which ooze with quality and visual finesse. The film begins with a paperboy making his way through his daily delivery route. Coming to a house that has an increasing number of papers littering the porch, curiosity gets the best of him and he decides to investigate the property. Behind the house he discovers three newly dug graves, each with its own crudely made crucifix that's been adorned with a mask and a short story. He begins to read one and the first segment begins.
Fondue is the first story, which involves two teens that meet up for a very twisted Halloween tradition. They head to a shop, grab masks and treat buckets and make their way to a remote house. Upon arrival, a masked figure welcomes one of them inside for a very strange type of fondue. This segment starts the anthology off on a very strong and creepy note. The use of masks and lack of dialogue works perfectly, so perfectly that I had forgotten that there was no dialogue! The actors do such a great job with their body language and gestures, never feeling like they're acting to over-compensate for the lack of talking.
We're transported back to a very disturbed looking paperboy, as he puts the first story back on its cross and moves onto the next. Thus beginning the second segment, Malleus Maleficarum. This story follows a small town of religious fanatics that are participating in a modern day witch hunt, Rounding up all the "mediums" in the town, the son of one family begins to develop a troubled conscience over the atrocities that have been committed. I cannot stress enough how important the soundtrack is for this short. With so much happening and not a word spoken, the violin based track flawlessly carries the on screen emotions. To me, this is the strongest short of the bunch.
Stash is segment number three. It follows a group of homeless and starving teens who after trick or treating, decide to pool all of their treats together and hide them in the woods. One of the three doesn't hold up his end of the deal and has devoured most of his haul, this leads to "complications" in regards to his future. Though, this is my least favorite short, it still packs an emotional punch and ends on a sickening note.
The final film is Delivery, about two rural police officers that have a very dark side job involving people who've gone "missing" in the area. I won't say much more about this one and risk ruining the ending. There's a twist you definitely won't expect. The actors who portray the officers do an amazing job with their roles, expertly displaying anxiety, unease, and sternness using only facial expressions is an impressive feat!
Going back to the wrap-around segment. Usually these aspects of horror anthologies are the weakest, tacked on to give some sort of cohesive flow to the film and a lot of the time failing to do so. This is most certainly not the case with 3 Dead Trick or Treaters, far from it! I was enthralled by what was happening regarding the paperboy, his shocking discover and the consequences of his curiosity. The wrap-around segment is easily one of the best parts of the film.
Torin Langen has created an immensely impressive experience with 3 Dead Trick or Treaters. The film has been carefully and masterfully crafted to convey its message through visuals and score alone. I don't know of many filmmakers who have been able to achieve such a goal, both Langen and Stephen Schooley, who composed the film's score, deserve a lot of credit for their work. While, the lack of dialogue may turn some viewers away, 3 Dead Trick or Treaters offers an experience unlike any other anthology I've ever seen. If you're looking for something unique to watch, look no further than this dark and twisted descent into Halloween nightmares.
3 Dead Trick or Treaters is now available on Blu-ray.