Thursday, October 31, 2019

Stale Treats: Trick (2019)

Trick (2019)
Rating: **
Starring: Jamie Kennedy, Omar Epps, Tom Atkins

From the folks who brought us the watchable 3D "popcorn buddy" My Bloody Valentine (2009) Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, comes this sizable bodycounter that's determined to make a name for itself (and by "itself", I mean its killer) by aiming to be more than just a brooding dead teenager movie with a masked killer. All I can say to that is don't strain yourself too much on that determination coz you might slip a disc and hobble yourself!

Guess what? It slipped and hobbled.

Trick (2019) opens in Halloween 2015 at Benton, New York, where a group of drunken high schoolers are partying it up at someone's house, only for the debauchery to go bloody in bits as one of the costumed teens, a Patrick "Trick" Weaver (Thom Niemann), suddenly goes psycho on everyone there, killing five, injuring plenty and eventually getting a fire poker shoved into his gut.

The attack leaves Trick catatonic for a while until Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) decided to do a one-on-one with the terror teen at the hospital, unknowingly awakening something evil within the spree killer that leads to yet another round of murdering through out the halls and corridors before Denver and Sheriff Lisa Jayne fill Trick's guts with hot lead, causing him to crash and fall through a high rise window. And yet, upon checking, his body is nowhere to be found and blood trails seem to indicate our killer wandered into the open waters nearby where many assumed he drowned or froze to death.

A year later in Halloween 2016, a new series of killings plague another New York town and the perpetrator is described to be donning the same face-paint and black hoodie Trick were wearing the night he went nuts. The same spree killing happens again in 2017 Halloween at another New York town and this puts Detective Denver in a Samuel Loomis mindset, believing the blame falls on Trick who he very much believes is still alive and, most importantly, an embodiment of pure evil. When Trick personally went after him and two federal agent next Halloween in yet another New York town, Denver is kicked out of the FBI when the attack resulted to two federal agents dead, thus further fueling his increasingly crazed obsession on apprehending the elusive killer.

And in we go to the present; with Halloween right around the corner again, Denver remains alert for Trick's return and he soon gets what he wants when a body's found in Benton with its blood used to write the detective's name on a wall. It seems Trick, now a modern urban legend of sorts, is back to his old home town and he's ready to raise his usual brand of hell through bloodshed and mayhem, now with an added goal of finishing off those who stopped him in the past.

I can try to be forgiving for Trick (2019) as I really wanted to like this movie. It has potential, I can see that; the opening stab-a-thon was a nice juicy start and I do like the fact that this movie is attempting to make us think that there's more to our killer than just being another guy in a store-bought Halloween mask. Hell, I would even say that the twist in the last act was kinda clever, if only everything else about Trick isn't so boring.

The problem first rears its ugly head when the film decided to shove its double-digit killing skills in our faces for the first half hour, right after it somehow reenacts an abridged version of Halloween (1978). (Kids goes on random killing spree, taken to clinic, kid goes on another killing spree, gets shot multiple times and falls off a window only for their body to disappear. Everybody else is seeing the comparison, right?) The movie basically fast forwards itself to the present by showcasing a kill or two (Or three. Or four...) each year while the script proceeds to be feed us all the usual pretentiously cliched doomsayer /disgruntled cop/Ahab archetype quotes, something that could have been done for the sake of showing off how "cool" Trick can be as a killer. Usually, I'm okay with slasher villains snuffing out random folks to boost up the killcount but Trick (2019) handles this mostly in a lazy and hardly creative manner, seeing a good bulk of these murders are just showcasing offscreen disemboweled victims and our killer going crazy with the knife stabbing. That's twenty something minutes wasted on lazy murders where it could have been used for more creative exits like that one decent SAW (2003) - inspired noose set, or something useful like, I dunno, proper character and plot development since a part of this movie is trying to be a mystery thriller? (What good is a mystery when there's hardly anyone interesting?)

The rest of the movie fares little better; right after it is made evident Trick is back to his home town, the story cycles through a stalk-kill-chase loop that doesn't go anywhere new, still interjected with one or two predictable scripting that further kills any actual sense of dread and scare until it all accumulates to its goofy yet okay twist reveal that tries to be relevant with its talk of internet fame and the nature of violent criminals. Would have worked if I gave two shits about the story at that point.

This leaves Trick (2019) feeling overly shallow and contrived as a proposed "slasher-noir", absolutely lacking any genuinely likable traits to stick around for, this including our killer whose only bankable features are that he kills fast, his face is painted and his knife has his name carved on it. There is this supposed mystery behind Trick's apparent supernatural nature but all they did to imply this is to make him teleport. Teleport. Have you seen Valentine (2001)? Night School (1981)? Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)? Especially Jason Takes Manhattan? Them teleporting slashers are old hat, my friend, so the least the producers could have done is try to play more around other supernatural tropes rather than making a limber Micheal Myers clone.

To be fair, Trick (2019) is at least competently shot, though some of the shaky cam effects get pretty damn annoying at times. A few of the murders do get my seal of approval, like one that involves a tombstone. It's absurd scripting is also near parody (Just how much Loomis can you get, Mr Detective?) so I guess the film could still work as a bad yet cheesy fun slasher to chortle at, so long as one will overlook its underlying mystery thriller jig. I can't hate this enough to call it garbage, but I ain't that forgiving neither, so do what you want with Trick (2019). It's your damn money.

Now, if you would excuse me, I have a meeting with more competent murder mystery slashers. I think I'll start with Knife + Heart (2018)...

1 male repeatedly knifed on the gut
1 male repeatedly slashed with a knife
1 female repeatedly knifed on the gut
1 male had his throat cut with a knife, bled to death
1 female knifed to death
1 victim seen dead with a bloodied face
1 male had his throat slashed with an angled bonesaw
1 male gutted with an angled bonesaw
1 male knifed on the gut, throat sliced with a knife
1 female knifed to death
1 male repeatedly knifed on the back
6 victims mentioned found dead
1 female seen with her throat mutilated
1 male seen murdered
1 female seen murdered
1 male seen murdered
1 male decapitated with a weighed steel cable noose
1 female knifed to death
1 male seen murdered
1 female had her head smashed off with an industrial crane-swung tombstone
1 male knifed to death
1 male knifed on the head
1 female found disemboweled
1 male knifed to death
1 male found disemboweled
1 female bled to death from a cut throat
1 male knifed on the gut, falls and lands unto a car
1 male shot on the head
1 male knifed to death
1 male repeatedly knifed on the gut
Total: 35

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