TREATERS (OCTOBER 27TH)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
I'm relying on the lottery of Lovefilm randomly selecting titles from my rental list (yeah that's right, I've got everything on the same priority level) to help supplement my '31 Days' selection. I'm notoriously bad at making decisions regarding what to watch so the unpredictability of it all suits me well. However when I opened up the envelope the other day to discover Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Rings it was a bit underwhelming. I'd seen the former on Netflix the other day and stupidly not taken it off my Lovefilm rental list. And the latter...well, I really had no interest in seeing it at the cinema but had stuck it on the list because...well, I don't know why. Well that decision came back to haunt me. I watched it last night and I literally don't have the motivation to write about it. It's not terribly bad or anything it's just so utterly pointless and mundane. It just should never have been made and I feel kinda dirty for watching it. So I'm not going to write about that. Instead I am going to write about an eight minute Halloween themed short called Treaters that has just been released and quite frankly, is much more deserving of my (and your) time.
Cast your minds back to the opening scene of 'The Dark Knight' if you will, where a group of masked assailants engage in a bank heist. It's filled with tension and twists and turns. Now imagine that but instead of hardened bank robbers, picture a trio of kids. And instead of a bank, imagine a candy shop. There, that's basically what Treaters is!
The movie begins with a couple of mask-wearing kids (Hockey Girl and Wolf Boy) killing time, awaiting the arrival of another child who goes by the name of 'Treater'. They've never met him before (Hockey girl has encountered him online) but when he arrives, adorning a rather grim clown mask, he soon assumes the role as group leader. The trio head off into the night to attempt to break into a candy store and steal as much as they can shove into their rucksacks. However, things don't go exactly to plan...
Produced by Treehouse Digital, this is a short movie that really aims to capture the fun of Halloween. Whilst a lot of us horror fans like to indulge in some of the more gruesome and dark material the genre has to offer at this time of year, there is still an important place for something lighter and more playful, and Treaters manages to hit that sweet spot.
First off, it looks fantastic. It manages to encapsulate that almost storybook feel that Amblin movies of the 80's made so successful. R.L. Stine would lap this stuff up. It's dark and moody but brimming with an undercurrent of youthful energy and fun. And although it's cliché for film reviews to hark on about lighting, it really does deserve a mention here. Treaters isn't afraid to keep things threateningly murky and exterior shots include an ominous fog that's reminiscent of classic horror fare like Friday 13th. It may have a 12A rating and generally be suitable for older kids, but it still operates within the realm of horror. Once inside the candy shop, things get even creepier too and there are some great set-pieces and visuals to be enjoyed. The sheer attention to detail is obvious and it's some of the small touches that really bring a smile. Like the framed picture of the scowling candy shop owner that we catch a glimpse of when the trio enter for the first time. The candy shop itself is a joy to behold too. Fantastically oversized rotating pumpkins, cobwebs and skeleton and jars of sweets as far as the eye can see. You can almost taste the sugar and feel the giddy rush of excitement. It's very rare that you find a short that impresses so much on a technical and film-making level. Aesthetics, direction, score, editing, acting, story. It's all top notch.
Alongside the short itself, Treehouse have a host of behind-the-scenes videos that give the viewer an intriguing sneak peek at the film-making process. After you've seen a few of them you only appreciate the film even more. The sheer amount of effort and love and goodwill involved is tangible and it's all reflected in the finished film.
And it's this sense of spooky fun that almost emanates from Treaters pores that makes it such a success. Although it's only 8 minutes long, it's a great little thrill-ride, filled with tension, jumps and laughs that perfectly capture that sense of Halloween hi-jinx that most of us experienced when we were a lot younger. I must admit I wasn't really feeling in the Halloween mood just yet, but this film has just changed that. Check it out yourselves for free here, it's a real treat.