Trick Or Treat review: a British indie well worth seeking out

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Craig Kelly, Dean Lennox Kelly, Miame McCoy lead the movie Trick Or Treat, and here’s our review of a British success.

An old story this, told many times. Perhaps even, dare we say it, overtold. And yet Trick Or Treat, despite consisting of well-worn staples such as the British crime drama and the straight, white male crisis of masculinity, still manages to construct a smart thriller that remains engaging until the very last.

Set against the bright lights of Blackpool, Craig Kelly plays Greg Kielty, a shuffling, morose mid-life crisis on legs. Unfulfilled with his young family and yearning for the excitement of his youth, Greg’s life acts as a mirror for the gaudily lit exterior shots of Blackpool, a series of shallow amusements swallowed in pools of darkness. When his estranged brother shows up with a body in the boot of his car and pleading for sanctuary, Greg finds himself drawn into the seedy underbelly of the town, those same dark shadows offering a strange respite from the tedium of his domestic life.

There’s nothing particularly new here; several of the plot threads are rooted in 90s Fincher, and the gangster elements employ similar oddball character traits that Lock, Stock used so effectively in the same decade. But with decently written dialogue and a continuously unravelling mystery and a central relationship that works (the Kielty brothers are played by real-life siblings Craig and Dean Lennox Kelly), it all hangs together and hangs together well.

Several familiar faces from British film and TV turn up and put in sterling work too, including Kris Marshall, Frances Barber, Hugo Speer and Jason Flemyng. Each plays a suitably quirky addition to an increasingly strange night for Greg, as every revelation challenges Greg’s loyalty to his family and the life he has chosen. The title, chosen to reflect the film’s time period (the action begins in earnest on the stroke of the witching hour at Halloween) adds a light layer of psychodrama to the proceedings. A smattering of eerie visitations and psychedelic experiences add welcome range to the film’s tone, but are never really fully explored, in what is perhaps the film’s most intriguing, but ultimately disappointing aspect.

What doesn’t disappoint, though, is the ending. As Trick Or Treat barrels towards the typical showdown you expect from a crime thriller, it becomes something else entirely, resulting in a satisfying experience that lifts the film as a whole. Sure, it’s something of a pastiche of elements we’ve all seen before, but through engaging performances, wacky characters and a well-told story, Trick Or Treat composes itself into a mosaic that is enjoyable all the same.

The film is available on demand from June 1st 2020, here.

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