Trick or Treat

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Trick or Treat Movie Poster Image
Trippy British thriller has swearing, violence, and drugs.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 84 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

At a stretch, it could be argued that a positive takeaway is that you should enjoy your life for what it is and that other people's lives are rarely what you think they are. But ultimately this is a story with few positive messages other than holding a mirror up to how we view our own lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Greg openly admits to missing his single, carefree life. He is bored and depressed by the mundane routine of being a new father -- using drink and drugs as an escapism. He previously led a criminal lifestyle but has distanced himself from it. Greg's brother, Dan, is still involved in crime. He is portrayed as being capable of violence, untrustworthy, and a liar. Other supporting characters are also intertwined with illegal activity and are often shown to have violent tendencies. The crime boss is a woman, Miss Ferguson, which breaks from tradition.

Violence

Although the violence is gory and bloody, it's done with a dark humor. Characters are hit and run over by cars, stabbed, beaten with metal pipes, kidnapped, and threatened with guns. A razor blade is held to someone's eye and throat. A flashback shows someone being stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver. A police officer is punched unconscious. Torture weapons are shown laid out. A bloody corpse is transported from various locations. The Halloween setting -- along with some spooky costumes and props -- provides an overall creepy feel.

Sex

Some sexual humor. A character appears naked but with pieces of sushi and flowers covering their breasts and genitals. The same character suggestively rubs their foot against someone's groin. Some kissing. An alleged affair is referenced throughout. Pornographic magazines are briefly seen in the trunk of a car.

Language

Strong language throughout including variants of "f--k," "s--t," "pr--k," "bulls--t," "c--t," "bastard," "piss," "wanker," "d--khead," "twat," "c--ksucker," "c--kwomble," "dips--t," and "bugger." "Hell" and "Christ" are also used as exclamations. Sexual language includes "blow job."

Consumerism

A number of Apple products are clearly depicted including iPads and iPhones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drink, drugs, and smoking feature heavily throughout. A character is seen drinking whilst driving, before hitting into a pedestrian. Characters smoke pot, cigarettes, and cigars. After smoking a joint, a character has a hallucinogenic dream. A character has an IV bag filled with cocaine that they snort from. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Trick or Treat is an exhilarating British crime thriller -- with plenty of adult themes -- that deals with masculinity, fatherhood, and midlife crises. Greg Kielty (Craig Kelly) is a new father who pines for the excitement and carefree life he used to enjoy. When his criminal brother, Dan (Dean Lennox Kelly) unexpectedly turns up needing his help, Greg's "mundane" life suddenly becomes entrenched in murder and violence. The Halloween setting gives the movie a creepy and nightmarish feel, although there's an undercurrent of dark humor to both that and the violence. However, the violence is gory. In one of the more brutal scenes, a man is stabbed to death with a screwdriver and another is run over -- their bloody corpse is a crucial element to the plot. There is some drug use, with Greg smoking pot on several occasions and crime boss, Miss Ferguson (Frances Barber) snorting cocaine. Multiple characters are also seen drinking -- including while driving -- and smoking. There is a strong language throughout, including use of "c--t" and variants of "f--k," and there is some sexual language including a joke about "blow jobs."

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What's the story?

TRICK OR TREAT finds Greg Kielty (Craig Kelly) -- a father of a four-month-old daughter -- jobless, depressed, and missing his old carefree life. But when his brother Dan (Dean Lennox Kelly) knocks on his door in the middle of night saying he's hit someone with his car and has the body in his trunk, the exciting life Greg thought he longed for suddenly seems overrated.

Is it any good?

This film pulls you in so many different, unexpected directions, to call it just a crime thriller is an injustice. Trick or Treat certainly has the look and feel of British gangster movies like Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch -- although the action here takes place in the seaside town of Blackpool. But a better comparison would be to David Fincher's The Game. Like that movie, nothing is quite what it seems. Set on Halloween, there's an overriding creepiness that adds to the mystery. It's also violent, but at the same funny. Add to that the exploration of masculinity and men's mental health and you can see why it's so difficult to pigeonhole it as a crime thriller.

The movie is led by real-life brothers, Craig and Dean Lennox Kelly, who play Greg and Dan Kielty respectively. Greg is a new father who is seemingly depressed and missing his former carefree life. It's to Kelly's credit that Greg remains sympathetic and relatable when he could just as easily come across as simply selfish and immature. For those familiar with British movies and TV, there are a number of cameos throughout. These are often fleeting, which only adds to the unsettling mood of the movie. There's the occasional plot hole, but given the whole movie feels like a dreamlike -- or nightmare -- sequence, they don't deter from a rollercoaster of a movie that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Trick or Treat. How did it make you feel? Was it thrilling or shocking? Are there any consequences? Why is that important?

  • Discuss the strong language in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?

  • How are drinking and drug use portrayed? Are there consequences? Does it glamorize it?

  • The movie touches upon masculinity. Was Greg a sympathetic character? Would you like to see more movies where male mental health is portrayed?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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