3 Dead Trick or Treaters review


By David Dent

Director/producer/writer/cinematographer Torin Langen specialises in ‘weird’ short films, so what better vehicle for him than to pull a number of them together as a ‘portmanteau’ movie?

It’s a similar idea to his movie ‘Late Night Double Feature’ released last year, although the angle here is that the whole film (and each of the segments within it) is completely without dialogue. It’s not silent though – there’s a music soundtrack, and the characters in each of the stories grunt, sigh and make all the usual human sounds – except speech.

Admittedly this takes some getting used to. The framing device around which to wrap the stories (two of them are from Langen’s back catalogue of shorts – the rest were presumably made for the film) has a paperboy stumbling on the graves of three murdered trick or treaters; hence the rather awkward title.

Each of the headstones has a piece of paper attached containing a short story, which leads us into the various Hallowe’en based story segments: ‘Fondue’ featuring a young couple who trick or treat at a remote house and get more than they bargained for; ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ where a sacrificial offering gets cold feet about his fate; ‘Stash’ which has a trick or treating gang needing more than candy to keep them going; and ‘Delivery’ where two cops are given a bung to find another use for the body at a crime scene.

The films are pretty slight, opener ‘Fondue’ being the weakest, but the film begins to pick up pace as successive segments get stronger and the viewer adjusts to the dialogue free approach. So why no speech?

It could just be a gimmick, but as most of the characters in the stories are couples or partners, I think Langen is also saying something about how people non verbally communicate.

Anyhow I quite liked ‘3 Dead Trick or Treaters.’ It’s a bold attempt to do something different, and Langen wisely keeps the movie short – about 75 minutes.

My only comment would be that there’s not enough variety of locations – drab and miserable though they are – so the segments end up looking a bit indistinguishable. Nice job though.

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