After turning a school halloween party game in to a killing spree, slaughtering a handful of schoolmates and injuring a few more, a masked Patrick “Trick” Weaver escapes the cops and disappears into the night. Several bullet holes worse off and bleeding everywhere after a Michael Myers-esque fall out of a third floor window, the knife wielding lunatic is presumed dead by the police, all excluding Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps – House M.D.) who, without a body, isn’t convinced. This was 2015.
Trick isn’t seen for a year. Not until the next Halloween when he appears at yet another school party – and the next year, and the next year. All with the same bloody results. Now it’s 2019 and after a disastrous Halloween previous, Denver is badge-less and looking for answers and this October 31st is going to be Trick’s last. Or his.
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There is a hole in the modern horror lexicon, one in desperate need of filling. The current cinematic landscape needs a great slasher. A face and a character to silently cheer for. After Happy Death Day 2 U was painfully under-appreciated and left to wilt in theatres, filmmakers are clambering to create the next babyface, the next Ghostface, the next… anything. Sadly, try as he might and as sharp as his – hoped to be signature – blade is, Trick just doesn’t cut it.
Starting off with good intentions, Trick gives us a slasher that for the first half an hour is exceedingly fun to watch. A masked killer whose unique selling points are brilliant looking kills and some amazing looking makeup under his masks. Our slasher’s attacks are beautifully strung together set-pieces putting the focus on Trick’s fluidity and almost ballet-like dancing around his victims. Deaths are glorious and bloody and fun. But once we get to 2019 – the meat of the film – the killer and the film itself lose their way, as sleek knife-edge deaths become a patchwork of slasher films, Saw movies and martial arts spectacles, with a splash of horror nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
Directed by Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine director Patrick Lussier, Trick is a hopeful product of a woefully poor screenplay from Lussier and Jason X writer Todd Farmer, painfully played out by actors that have proven themselves better than they are here. Epps strolls through his lines with a monotonous boredom that cries that he doesn’t want to be there, backed up by Ellen Adair and horror legends old and new Jamie Kennedy (Scream) and Tom Atkins (The Fog) who all seem to know that they aren’t getting the film the synopsis is promising.
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Trick’s biggest problem, however, is one not easily fixed. It is stuck in a budget no man’s land. Not pricey enough to look nice and sleek and shiny but not cheap enough to be endearing to the indie loving crowd. Instead Trick lives a depressingly sombre middle shelf existence with most WWE films and those Hellraiser sequels we try to forget are a thing. It’s impossible not to see Trick’s inspirations and homages, but sadly the film doesn’t do any of them justice. Twists and reveals have the curtain lifted so ham-fistedly, and spectacularly clunky delivery both behind and in-front of the camera maims any sense of real surprise that could have been.
Trick had an opportunity to give horror fans the world over a killer that we could all get behind, cheering at each arterial spray. Instead that opportunity was squandered and all that potential landed like a cold, damp squib.
Trick is available on Digital download from 30th March.