Trick is a 2019 horror film from director Patrick Lussier, who wrote and directed (among other credits) the Wes Craven-produced Dracula 2000 and its straight-to-video sequels, but is probably best known for directing 2009’s 3-D remake of My Bloody Valentine. Lussier also directed the Nic Cage-starring 2011 flick Drive Angry. Trick was co-written by Lussier and his frequent collaborator, Todd Farmer, who co-wrote Drive Angry and MBV, but also penned the script for Jason X. As he did in those films, Farmer does appear in Trick, this time playing a police officer.
The film opens to find a (by all accounts) “fairly normal” teenage boy named Patrick seemingly snapping and butchering numerous classmates at a Halloween party in 2015. After being taken down by another teen, Patrick (or “Trick”, as he is frequently called) is placed into police custody and taken to the hospital to be treated for his wounds. There, Trick breaks from his restraints, increasing his kill count before receiving more injuries that are believed to lead to his death. You know, even though no body is ever recovered from the scene.
A series of what are believed to be copycat killings occur in nearby towns on Halloween night for three years subsequent to Trick’s rampage. However, Det. Denver (Omar Epps – Scream 2, Love & Basketball), the officer interrogating Trick when he made his hospital escape, believes that the young psychopath is still alive and responsible for all of the deaths. His suspicions seem to be confirmed when the killings resume back where they began just days before the next Halloween.
Trick presents its killer to be almost supernatural in element in times, often disappearing only to apparently reappear elsewhere almost instantly. This approach is nothing new for horror films, particularly “slasher” films. However, that element is lost whenever the killer starts to dispatch their victims, jumping and spinning much like a ninja… or damned near any action hero of the last 20 years. What starts as an evolution of the Michael Myers mythos soon gets a little too convoluted and stylistic for its own good, devolving into more of a decent, yet forgettable action-thriller, and less of a decent, yet forgettable horror film.
Despite solid make-up effects from Gary Tunnicliffe (best known for his work on the Hellraiser franchise), all the slashings and stabbing in Trick provide a lot of blood, but not much gore. While this aspect is never one that should “make or break” a film, the lack of grue is worth mentioning, especially for any gorehounds looking for a fix. That said, it still feels a tad odd that Tunnicliffe isn’t given more opportunity to showcase the nastier side of his abilities.
A bigger issue lies with the film’s characters. Epps is just never quite likable or compelling enough as “Denver” to carry the film. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the supporting cast, which includes Jaime Kennedy (Scream, Malibu’s Most Wanted) basically taking a paycheck in an incredibly thin role as a local doctor, as well as horror legend Tom Atkins… who shows up just to be the grumpy bastard we all love. Honestly, his presence is the only reason I even decided to watch the film.
However, Trick‘s biggest crime may be that it introduces an interesting, creepy mask for its killer (one that was prominently featured in the film’s trailer and publicity materials), but quickly tosses it out, instead choosing to frequently showcase the killer in a series of significantly less visually appealing masks, or worse, in boring face paint and a black hoodie.
Like the majority of films, Trick starts to derail for its third and final act, when the film’s secrets are revealed to be a little predictable, somewhat ludicrous, and generally unsatisfying. What’s left is kind of a muddled mess and, undoubtedly, feels like something of a missed opportunity. Overall, Trick is enjoyable enough for what it is, and does feature enough jack o’lanterns and other Halloween-related imagery to possibly make it a fitting addition to your October movie schedule, but ultimately feels a bit lacking. Worth a watch, but expectations should probably be lowered.