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Film / Trick 'r Treat

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Poison, drowning, claw, or knife
So many ways to take a life.

Trick 'r Treat is an anthology horror movie produced by Bryan Singer and directed by Michael Dougherty, and developed from Dougherty's 1996 animated short, Season's Greetings. The conceptual designer was Breehn Burns, co-creator of Dr. Tran. Trick 'r Treat was originally slated for a theatrical release in 2007, but was held up until a DVD release in 2009.

Set over a single Halloween night (although there is a flashback set on a Halloween thirty years prior), Trick 'r Treat is less interested in plot than it is in the holiday itself: the fears, emotions, atmosphere, and the traditions that have coalesced into what people imagine Halloween is about.

Trick 'r Treat has several subplots, loosely connected, that are the focus of this anthology:

All these stories frequently overlap and share characters, particularly a mysterious trick 'r treater known as Sam (pictured).

Not to be mistaken for the similarly named 1986 film Trick or Treat.

A sequel has been in development since October 2013, and a comic book with four prequel stories called Days of the Dead was released in October 2015.

This movie provides examples of the following:

  • Adaptation Expansion: This live-action film is loosely based on a four-minute animated short by having more characters and stories involved than just Sam.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Laurie's costume gets significantly sexier after her encounter with Principal Wilkins; her hair comes out of its pigtails, her neckline falls to expose her shoulders and cleavage (no doubt helped by the corset), and part of her skirt rips open.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: The guy Danielle has lined up to be Laurie's 'first' is an overweight guy dressed as a giant baby.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Macy shows some decency before she dies, wanting to try and save Sara when she's dragged off.
  • Alpha Bitch: Macy and Danielle, (literally, in Danielle's case) though Danielle does genuinely care about her sister Laurie.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The vampire, revealed to be a mundane Serial Killer, is nothing more than a whimpering victim before a pack of werewolves.
  • Anachronic Order: The opening scene is, chronologically, the very last event in the film. After this scene, it tells three stories that are more or less set simultaneously, before backing up to the beginning with another story, set during a time skip. It ends just before the opening scene.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Mr. Kreeg's pit bull, Spite.
  • Anthology: The film shows several different stories taking place on the same night. It doesn't have an EC Comics-style Framing Device, and the stories all interconnect, with occasional moments of Two Lines, No Waiting
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Sam is heavily implied to be the physical embodiment of Halloween.
  • Artistic License – History: Rhonda repeats the common misconception that Halloween grew out of the pre-Christian Irish festival of Samhain, which makes for a cool spooky story but, sadly, isn't true. The real Samhain probably wasn't also as wild as Rhonda makes it out to be, either, and almost certainly didn't involve Human Sacrifice. She does get points for pronouncing "Samhain" correctly, though. "Saw-wen".
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Almost everyone who gets killed in this film was asking for their death besides Emma, who wasn't an asshole—she just didn't like Halloween. Charlie is probably the most standard example, though, since he was smashing pumpkins and stealing candy before he got killed by Principal Wilkins.
    • Schrader is a borderline example; he did play a mean-spirited prank on Rhonda, but he was clearly sorry for it. The movie does not forgive him.
  • Badass Normal: Mr. Kreeg is armed only with a shotgun, but manages to fight off Sam quite effectively throughout his segment. When the gun runs out of bullets, he resorts to breaking a nearby bottle to fend him off. He only survives because he unintentionally gives Sam a piece of candy, thus appeasing him.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Many. Best used for a humorous effect in the opening when Emma sees a masked man dressed like Michael Myers across the street just standing there watching, and it turns out just to be a guy waiting for his ride.
  • Bait the Dog: Wilkins seems like a nice enough guy at first, authoritative and worldly. He's sure to educate this chubby imbecile on proper Halloween etiquette, and not poison him to death and carve a pumpkin out of his severed head...
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Sam wears a white bedsheet over his head to scare and kill Emma before he slits her throat and dismembers her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Remember to always be nice to your classmates or else they'll leave you to die.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: There are several antagonists in the film. Sam, the spirit of Halloween enforcing its rules. Mr. Kreeg, a Halloween-hating cranky old man who is responsible for the deaths of a number of children. And Steven Wilkins, a Serial Killer who was terrorizing trick-or-treaters throughout the film.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Macy. She pretends to befriend Rhonda, only to play a cruel prank on her. Although there are more literal examples elsewhere...
  • Black Comedy: The film definitely has a dark sense of humor. A good example would be the scenes of Stephen trying to bury the bodies of his victims, which are paced like some kind of wacky sitcom shenanigans.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Rhonda can't see well without her glasses.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Sam enforces the rules of Halloween, silently observing those who obey them and targeting those who don't. Kreeg is spared for accidentally complying to the same rule he broke.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Macy, Schrader, and Chip aren't actually seen or explicitly heard being killed after being surrounded by zombies at the bottom of the quarry, and might have been able to somehow escape from or placate the zombies (especially if they were only after Macy). That being said, their odds for this aren't that good, especially considering the later presence of the zombies at Mr. Kreeg's house.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Sara, one of the four trick-or-treaters, has braces that look ridiculous.
  • Brown Bag Mask: One of the kids killed in the 'Schoolbus Massacre' is wearing an incredibly creepy paper bag mask. Thirty years at the bottom of the pond does nothing to diminish its creepiness.
  • Bury Your Disabled: The "disturbed" children were drowned on the school bus. Rhonda, who is implicitly somewhere on the autism spectrum (not considered a disability, but as the film shows, autism is often stigmatized with ableist language nonetheless), manages to subvert this trope, surviving what was set up to be a Deadly Prank.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: In "Halloween School Bus Massacre", a group of trick-or-treaters travels to a local flooded quarry where Macy recalls the urban legend of the "Halloween School Bus Massacre," which claimed the lives of eight children with disabilities in a school bus on Halloween. The driver, who had been paid by their worn-out parents to dispose of them, drove them to that place to kill them. One of them broke free and attempted to escape, but instead wound up sending the bus over the quarry edge with the children shackled inside. The children all perished and the driver was never heard from again.
  • Call-Forward: When the clock rewinds to Mr. Kreeg's misadventure, one of the trick-or-treaters is wearing the same costume as the boy Wilkins beats to death with a shovel near the start of the movie.
  • Casting Gag: Tahmoh Penikett's wife is wearing a silver robot costume.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Kreeg manages to survive the battle with Sam by pure luck, and is then shown giving children candy, with his Halloween decorations up. Sam walks by and gives a meaningful look, acknowledging the lesson learned. After that breather, however, he gets killed anyway by the zombie children, avenging their death.
  • Cheerful Child: Principal Wilkins' son is very happy. "Let's carve a scaaaary pumpkin this time, Daddy!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The candy bar Mr. Kreeg takes a single bite out of and tosses away. It later stops Sam from stabbing him and becomes an accidental offering to Sam.
    • A more literal example, also from Mr. Kreeg, comes in an early scene when he tries to intimidate Steven Wilkins: "I have an NRA membership in my pocket and a shotgun over the fireplace!" That shotgun is indeed fired in the film's third act... not that it does much good.
  • Children Are Innocent: Only a handful of the children in this film avert the trope of children being devoid of malice and spite. Rather disturbingly played with Billy Wilkins, who has a childlike sense of innocence about some truly horrifying things. The nerdy, naive Rhonda is probably the closest thing to a straight example, and she’s portrayed very much as an outlier.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: There are two comic book tie-ins to this film.
    • A four-issue miniseries by WildStorm that was originally planned to be released weekly in October 2007 to coincide with the film's original theatrical release before being released as a graphic novel in 2009.
    • Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead, a graphic novel published by Legendary Comics that tells new stories.
  • Corruption of a Minor: Steven Wilkins is raising Billy to be a Serial Killer like him, and a few comments about Steven's own father suggest that this is a longstanding family tradition.
  • Covers Always Lie: Inverted with the Blu-ray release as it clearly shows Sam's true face.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The closing credits depict the zombies getting revenge on Mr. Kreeg for drowning them.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Sam (who isn't really a child) and the school bus kids.
    • Billy Wilkins is a surprising example, given how he has no problem with helping his father make a jack-o-lantern from the severed head of a kid his dad killed.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Wilkins is a pretty clever serial killer, but he’s no match for a pack of werewolves.
  • Deadly Prank: Macy and her friends pretend to be the undead schoolbus kids to scare Rhonda, who panics and cracks her head against a rock. The trope is subverted when it turns out that Rhonda is still alive, and subsequently inverted, when the real school bus kids show up and kill the pranksters.
  • Dead Star Walking: Leslie Bibb dies very early on in the film. She does appear a couple more times, thanks to the film's structure, but it's still quite a small role.
  • Death Glare: Danielle shoots one at two of her friends after Laurie shows up at the party, bringing the masked vampire that attacked her in worse shape than she’s in, and explains why she’s so battered and bloodied.
    Danielle: What did he do to you?
    Laurie: (glancing at Janet and Maria) I listened to their advice and played hard to get. He bit me.
    Danielle: (glares at them)
  • Death of a Child: The film has several blatant instances of children getting killed. There's a lot of speculation that it was the studio's squeamishness over this that led to the movie's underhyped, direct-to-DVD release.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Sam cuts Emma's head off, sticks a lollipop in her mouth, and makes it into a Halloween decoration for her husband to find.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Billy Wilkins is absolutely adorable.
  • Desperate Plea for Home: In the "Halloween School Bus Massacre" vignette, one of the kids wearing a vampire costume becomes scared when the school bus driver restrains him and the other special needs kids with the intention of sending them to their deaths, he breaks out of his restraints and cries "wanna go home".
  • Determinator: Sam is a supernatural example; a relentless force of nature who will not stop coming at you for the crime of disrespecting Halloween until either you've appeased him or he's killed you. Kreeg is a mundane example; a cantankerous old grouch with a bad attitude, a legally-owned shotgun, and enough steel in his balls to fight tooth and nail against the first thing.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Once Sam's true nature is revealed, every time in which a character interacts peacefully with him comes across as this.
  • Dies Wide Open: The victim of the vampire (who's actually Steve Wilkins) dies with her eyes open.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Those who break the rules of Halloween get horribly killed by Sam. On the flip side, following the rules even by mistake will get you spared.
  • Dramatic Unmask
  • Edible Bludgeon: Sam attempts to stab Mr. Kreeg with a sharpened lollipop. He later (or, from our perspective, earlier, due to the Anachronic Order) uses it to murder Emma.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The werewolves appear to genuinely care about each other and tend to stick together. Notably, they're all genuinely concerned for Laurie when they find out Wilkins tried to attack her.
    • Surprisingly, Wilkins' threatening comments towards his son were just talk and the two manage to qualify as evil people who care about each other.
    • Spite, Mr. Kreeg's dog.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Macy, Schrader, and Sara ditch their Halloween costumes for those of rather more scary chained ghouls to scare the living daylights out of Rhonda. Chip simply spruces his pirate costume up with fake gore.
  • Evil Teacher: Steven Wilkins. School principal, serial killer, and wanna-be vampire.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The events unfold over the course of several hours on Halloween night. There's a brief flashback to a Halloween thirty years prior, as well.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • A woman in a sexy spandex cat costume with cleavage and a see-through midriff? Hot. A heavyset, middle-aged woman wearing that costume? Not so much. When the trick-or-treaters knock on Mrs. Henderson's door and not only see her in that costume but also see a wild sex party going on in the other room, they practically have a Primal Scene reaction.
    • Laurie's friends disrobe before... removing their skin and sprouting hair.
  • Final Girl: Laurie has many aspects of this, being named, as she is, after the Final Girl in Halloween (1978). She's even got the Little Red Riding Hood costume, which is, of course, associated with virginity. In the end, however, she and all her friends survive. And they were never really in any danger at all. She and her friends also kill the Serial Killer terrorizing the town.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Sam isn't really the kind of name that invokes terror, yet he's really a pumpkin-headed monster representing Halloween who will kill whoever breaks the holiday's rules. It's implied that his name might be short for "Samhain", an ancient Celtic harvest festival, on which our modern Halloween is often thought to be based... though as the movie itself acknowledges, it's actually pronounced more like "Saw-wen".
  • Foreshadowing: Go back and listen to the conversation of Laurie, Danielle, Maria, and Janet as they're trying on their costumes for the first time, and now with the knowledge that they're werewolves and their conversation takes on whole new meaning.
    Laurie: I don't know why we drove out here when there are perfectly good guys in the city.
    Janet: Fresh meat.
    Maria: It's what we do every Halloween, Laurie.
    Laurie: Whatever happened to Trick or Treating?
    Maria: Puberty.
    Janet: Last year we were in Tampa.
    Maria: And we went as sexy nurses.
    Danielle: No, Janet, Tampa was two years ago, I remember because you puked doing a guy in his pickup truck.
    Janet: I ate some bad Mexican, and it was a jeep.
    Danielle: Last year was San Diego. We dressed as sailors and ended up with sailors.
    Janet: Yeah, and Maria's sailor was a girl.
    Maria: So what, she had a nice ass! (muttering) It all tastes the same to me anyway...
    • Also, when Laurie refuses to come out of the dressing room because she's embarrassed of her costume.
      Danielle: Open the door, or we'll huff, and we'll puff...
    • Another example is this exchange between Janet and Danielle while they're at their party and wait for Laurie, who hasn't shown up yet:
      Janet: She's a big girl. She can take care of herself.
      Danielle: I wish that were true. Mom always said she was the runt of the litter.
    • And what costume is Laurie wearing? Little Red Riding Hood.
    • The news report at the beginning makes specific reference to werewolves, zombies, and demons; accurately describing Laurie and her friends, the schoolbus kids, and Sam respectively.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you pause at the exact end of the title montage, you'll see Sam's real face.
  • Fur Against Fang: Sort of. The "vampire" who gets killed by the werewolves was just Principal Wilkins wearing false fangs.
  • Ghost Butler: One of them opens and shuts a door for Sam. Or maybe he's just telekinetic.
  • Ghostly Goals: The schoolbus kids Kreeg killed want to avenge their own deaths.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: In a deleted scene, Laurie claims she’s not a virgin; citing an incident with Dave, an attorney at the law firm in Toronto where she interned. The other girls don't believe it for a moment. Of course, 'virgin' has a different meaning in this context.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Laurie wears her hair like this to emphasise her position as the virgin of the group.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Kreeg attempts to kill Sam with a shattered booze bottle.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Kreeg, who spends his days yelling at people and scares trick-or-treaters off to steal their candy because he hates Halloween.
    Steven Wilkins: Happy Halloween!
    Mr. Kreeg: Screw you!
  • Hair-Raising Hare: During the flashback of the Halloween School Bus Massacre, one of the children evokes this effect by wearing a creepy bunny mask. And is still wearing it 30 years later, rotted and blackened, when they come out of the lake with the other children to get revenge on the bus driver.
  • Halloween Costume Characterization: In several of the stories.
    • Based on their conversation in the costume shop, the Four-Girl Ensemble always dress to a specific theme. This year they are fairytale characters, with Laurie as Little Red Riding Hood (as is apparently tradition for a werewolf getting her first kill, seemingly for the irony).
    • Rhonda, who has near-encyclopedic knowledge on the origins of Samhain and is implied to know who or what Sam really is, is dressed as a witch.
    • Billy Wilkins is dressed as his dad.
  • Halloween Episode: Of course, this is a horror film taking place on Halloween.
  • Hell Hound: Invoked by Kreeg, who dresses his rather petite dog, Spite, in black with glowing eyespots and sics him on trick-or-treaters.
  • Helping Hands: Sam's hand continues to try to kill Mr. Kreeg after Kreeg has severed it from Sam's body.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rhonda survives what could have been a Deadly Prank, but is left almost catatonic from the trauma of the incident for the rest of the movie.
  • Homage:
    • Sam spying on Emma and Henry, via a Murderer P.O.V., from across the street is one to the opening of Halloween. Both sequences even end with a grizzly murder.
    • Wilkins' date running down an alley and screaming for help, only to be drowned out by the sounds of the parade, is nearly identical to a scene from I Know What You Did Last Summer.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The events take place over Halloween, naturally.
  • Horror Hates a Rulebreaker: Sam's mere presence tends to give rise to a lot of supernatural events wherever he goes, giving him a wide variety of ways to kill people who break from Halloween tradition. But as long as people give out candy, stay in costume, don't blow out the jack-o lanterns, and otherwise adhere to the Halloween "rules" until midnight, he'll leave them be. However, he doesn't take kindly to anyone murdering trick or treaters (more specifically, kids), and will go out of his way to kill the culprit, even if they do adhere to the rules.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Most semi-major non-supernatural characters aside from Rhonda, Emma and her husband, the recurring clown boys, and possibly Wilkins' son (although there is still the question of how much he understands of what he's being taught). Wilkins is a serial killer and one of the only characters supernatural or otherwise who kills more than one person in the movie, something Sam doesn't even do; all of the trick-or-treaters who prank Rhonda are jerks for doing so, but Macy takes the cake for not even feeling sorry for what she did, unlike the others; and Kreeg, who killed all the bus kids. Needless to say they each get a Karmic Death.
  • Idiot Savant: Rhonda is stated as such by one of the characters, pointing out she knows a lot about the history of Halloween, but not much about anything else.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Sam's weapons of choice are a sharpened lollipop and a candy bar with a razor blade.
  • Info Dump: Rhonda at one point delivers a lot of exposition on the origins of Halloween/Samhain. The info she gives, however, is Sadly Mythtaken.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Those guys the girls are picking up for the party? Yeah, about that...
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "Screw you." Mr. Kreeg says it to Principal Wilkins when he wishes him a Happy Halloween. Principal Wilkins later says the same phrase to Kreeg when he's begging for help.
    • As well as "My my, what big eyes you have." First spoken by Principal Wilkins toward Laurie, then by Laurie toward Wilkins as she prepares to kill and eat him.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: ...give me something good to eat...
  • Jerkass: Mr. Kreeg has his dog scare away trick-or-treaters so he can steal their candy. And that's not even getting into how he killed a busload of schoolchildren.
  • Karma Houdini: Sam and the werewolves, assuming their other victims weren't assholes. Also, there's no indication the parents of the school bus kids were punished for orchestrating their deaths, unless the kids came for them after killing Kreeg.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • Steven Wilkins gets away with his actions in his own segment, only to be lured and Eaten Alive by Laurie later on.
    • Mr. Kreeg wasn't prosecuted for the school bus massacre and isn't killed by Sam either. He gets his comeuppance just before the closing credits when the zombified school bus kids show up on his doorstep and rip him apart.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Macy and her friends aren't very nice. Charlie also fits, being a pumpkin-smashing vandal who steals candy.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The victim of the "vampire" is so pleasured that she doesn't even realize it's happening until she notices her own blood dripping down her arms.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The child-killing principal is devoured by werewolves.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Laurie's hair comes out of its pigtails around the time we discover she's a werewolf who fought off a serial killer.
  • Literal Man Eater: The werewolves, although Maria made an exception once and ate a lady.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Laurie totally wrecks Principal Wilkins, even before she and her friends eat him.
  • Male Gaze: The introductions of Laurie's friends have generous shots of cleavage, which play again for Fan Disservice in the werewolf massacre.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Just about everyone wears a mask at some point for obvious reasons, but particular examples include Sam, the vampire, and the schoolbus kids.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Half the movie has significant things happening in the background to hint how most stories are happening simultaneously.
    • Ceiling Cling: Sam approaches Mr. Kreeg across the ceiling.
    • Wilkins is unknowingly spectator to Kreeg's fight.
    • The werewolf girls can be seen as Wilkins has a little make-out session.
    • Rhonda is walking in the background with her cart a few times.
    • Sam can occasionally be seen walking somewhere in the background.
    • The three clown teens can be seen on the regular, being the best display to figure out the order of events based on where they are when.
    • The dead children can be seen at the very beginning, going to/coming from Kreeg.
    • Henry and Emma pop up multiple times in the scenes in the town centre. Most notably, when the vampire's first victim begs them for help, and they think she's drunk.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sam is strongly implied to be short for Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival that is often linked to Halloween in pop culture (see Artistic Licence – History). Samhain is actually pronounced something akin to 'sah-win', but given that Rhonda uses the proper pronunciation, they most likely took Artistic License with the nickname.
    • Kreeg is an obvious homonym for "Krieg", the German word for war or conflict. It's of course Mr. Kreeg that battles with Sam.
    • And his dog is named Spite.
    • Laurie, the modest virgin of the group of college girls, is named after the archetypal Final Girl from Halloween (1978). And while the situation is not as it appears, she does technically fight off a masked serial killer.
  • Mundanger: Amongst all the scares in the movie, one moment sticks out as this: the fact that a group of parents grew so sick and tired of taking care of their mentally disabled children that they paid the school bus driver to drive them off a cliff. And unlike Kreeg, who is eventually torn apart by the now-zombified children, there's no indication that the parents were punished for doing this outside of their cruelty becoming the stuff of local legend. Though the movie ends just after Kreeg was attacked, so they might have gone after their parents after they finished with him
  • Mugging the Monster: Principal Wilkins trying to kill Laurie, a werewolf.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: The opening and Mr. Kreeg sections have many shots set from Sam's P.O.V., underneath his mask.
  • Nasty Party: The college girls throwing a party out in the woods turn out to be werewolves who devour everyone they invited.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Rhonda, who is autistic, seems to have a pretty good grasp of the supernatural rules of the movie's universe, although most of that seems to come from her encyclopedic knowledge of Halloween folklore. It's unclear whether she genuinely expects them to work, or is just going with what she knows in the face of what would otherwise be an Outside-Context Problem.
  • Noodle Incident: On one of the werewolf pack's previous hunts, a chosen victim evidently turned out to be a woman. And got devoured anyway.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: The conversation recounted above under Foreshadowing, when the college girls are apparently reminiscing about their past sexual exploits, is interrupted by an indignant mom telling them "There are children out here!" and covering up her son's ears.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Sam is too formidable to kill.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant / Obliviously Evil: Billy Wilkins doesn't seem to realize that carving up a severed head into a jack-o'-lantern is a pretty messed-up thing to do. That's probably his dad's influence.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Sam goes from an actual child in a costume to a very obvious adult stunt double when brawling with Mr. Kreeg. They use quick cuts to disguise this as much as they can, but it's pretty obvious if you look for it.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Subverted. For a while, it really looks like Steven is going to knife his son Billy to death. It turns out he was probably never planning to; he was just really excited about carving that "jack o' lantern"...
    • Played straight in the story of the Halloween School Bus Massacre, where the parents of eight mentally disabled children hire the bus driver to drown them in the lake.
  • Once is Not Enough: Averted; Kreeg takes no chances against Sam. He gets back up anyway, but you have to to give Kreeg that much credit, at least.
  • Once More, with Clarity:
    • The opening sequence is shown again at the end of the movie, and the scenes now make a lot more sense.
    • During Steven's story he briefly sees Mr. Kreeg pounding on his window trying to get his attention, only to mutter "Screw you" and ignore him. In Mr. Kreeg's story we learn why he was doing so.
  • One Crazy Night: The entire movie takes place on one Halloween night, during which the protagonists encounter werewolves, zombies, serial killers, and other menacing entities.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're not real vampires, for one thing...
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're all female, for one, and transform by the rarely-seen, but definitely folkloric, method of tearing off their human skin.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy:
    • From the way Danielle and her friends discuss their Halloween party, it is very clear that it's that kind of party. Ultimately, however, it turns out to be a very different kind of party.
    • We get a brief glimpse of the elementary school teachers having some kind of drunken Halloween party that seems to be minutes from descending into an orgy. If you pay careful attention to the costumes, there's a hint that one of the teachers - Coach Schneider - at some point ditched this party for Danielle's party.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: This is Zig-zagged when it comes to the vampire and his final victim. While Laurie knew the vampire was intending to kill her, she targeted him not out of any moral judgment, but because playing the victim was a means to lure him in, being not only oblivious, but potentially ambivalent to all the other atrocities he committed that night. In either case, the victim of this encounter will not missed.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Sam, once again. He's a tiny little guy, portrayed by a child actor, but he is by far the strongest and most dangerous character in the movie.
  • Pocket Protector: When Sam tries to stab Mr. Kreeg with a sharpened lollipop, the lollipop impales a particularly chewy candy bar that had fallen on his chest. Sam accepts that, technically, Kreeg has now given out some candy, and leaves him alive.
  • Poking Dead Things with a Stick: In the flashback to the "Halloween School Bus Massacre," Sam is seen on the outskirts of town, poking at a dead crow with a stick. This is our first indication that Sam is not just a kid in a weird costume, since this scene is set thirty years before the rest of the movie.
  • Police Are Useless: When Mr. Kreeg calls the police, he’s put on hold long enough for Sam to cut the line. No one is ever sent out to check on the cause of the call.
  • Precision F-Strike: Used to hilarious effect by Principal Wilkins' young son Billy.
    Principal Wilkins: ...go watch Charlie Brown and I'll be in in a minute!
    Billy: Charlie Brown's an ASSHOLE!
  • Psychosexual Horror: A group of flirtatious girls are shopping for Halloween costumes and picking up dates for a party that night. They have in tow Laurie, who is described by her eldest sister as "the runt of the litter". Laurie doesn't want her sister to help her hook up with someone because she wants her "first" to be "special". She is followed to the party in the woods by a man dressed as a vampire who had already killed a woman in an alley. He attacks Laurie, and there is a horrific noise that gets the attention of the girls at the party, only for a figure wrapped in Laurie's red cloak to fall from the trees. It's revealed to be Steven Wilkins, the school principal, who's already been shown as a murderer a few times over. He begs for help, as Laurie steps out of the woods snarking that the other girls told her to play hard to get and Wilkins had bitten her for it. It is then quickly revealed that Laurie, her sister, and their friends are all werewolves as they begin to strip down, first their clothes and then their flesh, and the men they'd enticed to join their party are their victims for the night. Rewatch Bonus comes into play as one realizes their earlier conversation at the costume shop was full of hidden clues about what was going on; see Foreshadowing, above.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Sam, after Kreeg dismembers him with buckshot, reattaches his severed hand.
  • Pumpkin Person: Sam has a pumpkin-like head under his mask. Notably, the face also shares some features with a skull.
  • Razor Apples: While there's no literal example, Steven uses poison ("Always check your candy!"), and Sam uses a razor blade inside a chocolate bar as a weapon. If you look closely, you'll notice he was given that same chocolate bar by Steven, so it's quite possible that Steven put the blade there - that or Sam just thought holding his knife inside a chocolate bar fit his aesthetic better. Also, as a nod to this trope, when Mr Kreeg falls down the stairs, they're littered with hypodermic needles, straight pins, shards of glass, razor blades and candy.
  • Recurring Extra: The three kids dressed as clowns, who can be very helpful in establishing the film's Anachronic Order. Sam starts out as one of these, too, with a few seemingly-innocuous appearances throughout the film - although the opening montage, and the cover of the movie, will cue you in right away that he's going to be important.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After Mr. Kreeg appeases Sam by giving him a chocolate bar, he’s seen giving out candy to other trick 'r treaters and basically doing Halloween right. However, at the end of the night, the schoolbus kids still come for him, since the final scene reveals he was the school bus driver who killed them.
  • Rewatch Bonus: On a rewatch, those who pay attention to the dialogue of Laurie's sister and friends will notice that it’s filled with foreshadowing that they’re all werewolves.
    • On a rewatch, it feels almost too obvious that Mr. Kreeg was the murderous bus driver, though the first time you watch it, the significance of his wheezing cough and distinctive ring are very easy to miss.
    • Another would be Sam's razor-embedded chocolate bar; it's the same one he snatched from Mr. Wilkins' pail when he went to his house earlier on in the film. See Razor Apples, above.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Sam plasters Mr. Kreeg's room with the lyrics of the Ironic Nursery Tune in absolutely record time, and festoons his lawn with elaborate jack-o'-lanterns.
  • Sackhead Slasher: Sam wears a burlap sack with buttons sewn on for eyes and a stitched-on mouth as a trick-or-treater mask.
  • Scary Scarecrows: Sam's mask, as well as the ornaments on Henry and Emma's lawn. During the Halloween School Bus Massacre flashback, a quick but atmospheric establishing shot shows a scarecrow in a field of pumpkins on the outskirts of town, as well.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: How the werewolf girls lead unsuspecting men to their feast. Said men are the main course.
  • The Scourge of God: Well, a god... Sam is killing unpleasant people on Halloween because he's the personification of the holiday.
  • Serial Killer: Steven frequently kills people and tries to cover it up.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Laurie is teased by her friends and sister for being a virgin at 22 and wanting her first time to be special. It turns out that they're not referring to sex at all, but the killing and eating of men.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit:
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Kreeg survives his near-fatal encounter with Sam and the harrowing experience inspires him to reverse his disrespectful attitude towards Halloween, giving generously to trick-or-treaters without complaint. Unfortunately, that's as far as he goes, what with being brutally murdered by the undead kids just before the credits.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There's a trick 'r treater dressed as Michael Myers from the Halloween movies. Also, the character set up as an obvious Final Girl, as noted above, is named Laurie.
    • Also, a colourized version of the original House on Haunted Hill (1959) is playing on TV in one scene, along with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.
    • Naming a Serial Killer "Steven" may also be an Alice Cooper reference.
    • Mr. Kreeg says "You gotta be fuckin' kidding," while Sam's severed hand skitters across the floor, much the same way as Palmer said the exact line in The Thing (1982) while Norris' head ran around the lab on spider legs. The same director would homage the scene from The Thing again in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
  • Shovel Strike: When Wilkins realises the body he is burying is Not Quite Dead, he pounds it several times with his shovel to finish the job. All the while, he is trying not to attract Mr. Kreeg's attention.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Brian Cox wears a pointy prosthetic nose to play Grumpy Old Man Mr. Kreeg.
  • Spiritual Successor: Krampus, which is also written and directed by Dougherty.
  • Stab the Salad: A rare example where the "innocent" reveal isn't really much better than the initial assumption.
  • Stingy Jack: Sam's appearance hints at this, with his pumpkin-like head.
  • Suburban Gothic: Warren Valley, Ohio has many dark secrets to hide, including a high school principal who’s a serial killer, a pack of werewolves, and the zombies of a group of disabled children whose parents arranged their murders.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Wilkins looks extremely normal throughout the film.
  • Token Minority: Maria, a friend of Laurie and Danielle, is the only prominent person of colour in the film.
  • Transformation Exhilaration: A surprise party of nubile young women turns out to be a gathering for werewolves. They all look beyond ecstatic and moan pleasurably as they sprout fangs, peel off their skins, and reveal the beasts beneath.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: The Halloween School Bus Massacre had mentally disabled children drown in a bus.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: In the Halloween School Bus Massacre flashback, Sam is seen on the outskirts of town, poking at a dead crow with a stick. This is our first real indication that he's not an ordinary kid, especially since this scene is set thirty years prior to the main events of the film.
  • Undead Child: The school bus kids that drowned come back as zombies to enact their revenge on Mr. Kreeg.
  • The Voiceless: Sam never speaks onscreen, although he makes a sort of hissing noise toward the end, and giggles a little.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Some poisoned candy provokes a massive display of Charlie vomiting onscreen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mr. Kreeg's dog Spite isn't seen again after being attacked by Sam.
  • Whispering Ghosts: Starts up the moment Macy extinguishes the last nearby jack-o-lantern.
  • Wild Teen Party: Danielle and her friends throw a wild college-age party out in the woods, although it goes from merely "wild" to "feral". Many are killed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Resident Serial Killer Steven Wilkins seems to specialize in killing children. This is actually one of the few horror movies where young children are shown being killed.

"Trick or treat..."