Trick Movie Review
Written by Ren Zelen
Released by The Movie Partnership
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Written by Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier
2019, 100 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 30th March 2020
Omar Epps as Det. Mike Denver
Ellen Adair as Sheriff Lisa Jayne
Jamie Kennedy as Dr. Steven
Tom Atkins as Talbott
Vanessa Aspillaga as Agent Tina Mendez
Patrick Lussier’s latest horror feature, Trick, opens during a Halloween costume party where a group of students are playing a game of Spin the Bottle, but as they’re using every bottle to drink out of, they’re spinning a big ol’ knife, which turns out to be a bad idea.
Sure enough, when a guy in a pumpkin mask spins the knife and it stops pointing to another man, rather than kiss the dude he opts to stab him instead, and while he’s at it, why not slash up the onlookers too!
Pumpkin boy sets about brutally hacking his way through the other party-goers, most of whom are strangely reluctant to leave the premises, and he’s only thwarted when Cheryl, (Kristina Reyes) decides to put a stop to the carnage by thrusting a handy poker into the perpetrator’s chest.
This merely lands the killer in hospital where he is revealed to be Patrick ‘Trick’ Weaver (Thom Niemann) a fellow his unfortunate classmates have known for a year and who they considered to be ‘nice, quiet and super-smart’, something they are obviously not.
The Detective assigned to investigate this horrific multiple murder is Mike Denver (Omar Epps, who you may remember from the TV show House). We might ask, was it a case of overwhelming homosexual panic at having to kiss a dude? But no, Detective Denver fires off more mundane questions, earnestly asking Trick Weaver whether his attack was motivated by revenge for bullying or by trouble at home?
He is met by a grim silence and a hostile sidelong stare which we know can only mean trouble. So, we don’t have to wait long before the murderous loon gets free of his restraints, pins Denver under his bed and makes his escape out of the hospital, slashing all the way.
Having a wealth of sharp and pointy instruments to choose from, Trick wreaks plenty of bloody havoc before getting shot several times by detective Denver and the local police chief Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair). He then falls from a high window yet manages to stagger off to a nearby river, where he disappears into the freezing water.
Unsurprisingly, Sheriff Jayne and the townsfolk are convinced that Trick must be dead although his body is never found. Of course not! In true Michael Myers style, this Halloween killer also refuses to lie down and die.
It transpires that the name and the address attributed to Trick were both false and he is impossible to trace. Unable to go further in their investigations the detectives must then put up with Trick turning up every year at Halloween and unleashing slasher hell in their town.
Trick wears a mask, paints his face and wears a hoodie, so he blends in pretty well with the locals, so much so that he has to attract the attention of his pursuers by taunting them - tapping and twirling his big ol’ knife. He does show an almost supernatural knack for evading the authorities and avoiding gunfire, but why does he keep returning? How does he manage his disappearing act? Is it still Patrick Weaver or a copycat?
Naturally, these questions infuriate us and likewise the police authorities. They drive detective Denver crazy enough to leave the force to continue pursuing his own investigations, like ‘where the hell is pumpkin head for the rest of the year’? Epps as Detective Denver goes through the conventional paces with commitment, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him and roll the eyes when he's forced to portentously utter lines such as "This is pure evil. This kid is goddamn darkness personified."
The punning title of the film refers to the nasty trick rather than the treat of Halloween convention, to the art of illusion and to the nickname of the murderer. If all you’re looking for is a slasher pic in which dozens of people die in bloody, violent ways, you are guaranteed to find it here.
Lussier and Farmer don’t hold back on the gore, it is all pretty brutal, grisly and violent, containing a body count in double digits. Their set-pieces: a bloody hospital escape, an elaborate death-trap for cops, a haunted maze in Halloween town carnival, a showdown in a basement - deliver a series of graphic killings and at least one inventive one involving a crane and the headstone from a grave.
The ultimate (and not entirely surprising) plot-twist tries to provide some novelty value but it soon becomes clear that the filmmakers aren’t really interested in exploring any of the sociopolitical or psychological implications of their very misanthropic revelation, but rather that they’re just providing a convenient set up for future sequels.
Lussier’s film starts off with much aplomb and it’s not boring, but ultimately it makes no sense and contains some shockingly annoying filmmaking. The attempt to make some of the events seem more exciting by using a handheld camera merely provokes a frenetically wobbly, nausea-inducing result - making the action incoherent rather than horrifying.
Lussier also makes the rookie mistake of thinking that cranking up the volume of the score every time Trick unleashes his murderous fury will add to the fear, when all it does is empty the film of tension by telegraphing the oncoming carnage.
I must give Lussier credit for trying to rekindle the slasher genre and for cheekily casting horror veterans such as Jamie Kennedy and Tom Atkins, but it all goes to underline the fact that what the film lacks is a sense of humour, in which case it might have provided gory, mindless entertainment rather than just trying to create a new slasher villain who might support a lucrative franchise.
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