Director: Torin Langen
Cast: Holden Levack, Jeremy Charles Singer, Raven Cousens
Run time: 73mins
Over the last few years there has been a boom in horror anthology films but this feature directorial debut from Torin Langen, who spent four whole years writing, directing and editing the movie, manages to give a unique spin on the classic formula as the film has precisely by providing a movie that believe it or not features not one actual line of dialogue?!
Not to say however that 3 Dead Trick Or Treaters it is a silent movie, we are still treated to plenty of noise and sound effects, from screams and moans to weird garbled voices delivered by a good old crackly radio!
There is of course a danger this could come off as gimmicky but thankfully in the case of 3 Dead Trick Or Treaters it does not. Another danger posed by this device is the actors in movie could have exaggerated their facial expressions and reactions to such an extent that it could have sunk the atmosphere and made the film comical rather than creepy but the actors in the movie manage to sidestep this potential pitfall and keep it very subtle and believable, perfect!
The movie consists of 4 standalone tales and a wraparound story. The wraparound, which as well book-ending the movie appears at the end of each short, sees a local paperboy (Holden Levack) stumbling upon the makeshift graves of the eponymous 3 Dead Trick or Treaters. Attached to each grave is a short story written by a pulp author who we see in the opening credit sequence and whom, it seems, has been driven insane by all the rejection letters he has received for his tales. It is through these handwritten stories that we enter each segment of the film providing what is called in anthology movies as ‘the wrap around!’.
Like all films of this sort it would be fair to say that some segments are stronger than the others but none of the one’s on offer here are actually bad at all.
The first short “Fondue” is probably the slightest of the stories and also seems to have been built around its punch line ending, there is still an effective nastiness to the tale too.
The second story “Malleus Maleficarum” focuses on a family who are part of a witch cult as they prepare to burn someone at the stake (apparently from the comfort of a lawn chair eating cookies!) when one of the family gets cold feet. This is the strongest story featured in the movie and it manages to also be pretty darn funny, mixing the occult with the domestic, as well as genuinely creepy, Malleus Maleficarum also has the best jump scare in the anthology. The third story in the collection “Stash” sees three homeless people hiding away there Halloween candy haul in the woods. It is no spoiler to say one of them double crosses the other two and things soon turn nasty!
Stash does unfold in a relatively predictable manner but the use of setting is good and the horror is effective.
The fourth and final short “Delivery” focuses on two local policeman who have an odd and grisly side job. This tale you think you know where it is going but eventually surprises us with a very decent twist in the tale which certainly pull the rug from under me!
Throughout all the tales, surprisingly one the most affecting things about the movie is its spellbinding soundtrack which is a mix of alt-rock and folk and even sounds a bit Twin Peak’s-like on occasion (never a bad thing!) It is also this music that really draws the viewer in and does a great job of heightening the films already super creepy atmosphere.
Overall: In a continually growing and crowded market place of Horror Anthology movies it is becoming harder to stand out but Torin Langen does so with this dialogue-free, atmosphere heavy very well executed little independent effort. It is a flawed work for sure, as most modern day Anthologies tend to be, but overall a strong debut feature and decent calling card for brand new up and comer Langen!
words by Scott Murphy