‘Why? Why would somebody take his eyeballs?’
At a high school Hallowe’en party in 2015, pumpkin-masked Patrick ‘Trick’ Weaver (Thom Niemann) – a mystery kid everyone remembers as quiet and kindly, but who turns out to have no history or family – freaks out and stabs classmates, before he’s brought down by a poker-thrust.
He further rampages in hospital, and takes a Michael Myers-like dive into a freezing river – though no body is ever found. The next year, at the next town down the river, it seems that Trick comes back in another mask to kill again … and, every year thereafter, again and again, picking up a devoted internet following and also a clutch of increasingly obsessed enemies, including Detective Mike Deenver (Omar Epps), Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair) and survivor girl Cheryl Winston (Kristina Reyes). Also trailing along in the bloody wake are Troy (Max Miller), the blowhard football player who took credit for cutting short Trick’s first massacre, Dr Steven (Jamie Kennedy), who has to stitch and clean up after successive years’ kill sprees, and crusty local Talbott (Tom Atkins), who keeps the holiday spirit going with dusk-till-dawn movie screenings (the PD Night of the Living Dead features again) and a horror maze suitable for being infiltrated by the killer as in all those Fright/Horror/Blood-fest films of the last few years.
Directed by Patrick Lussier, who also co-scripted with actor Todd Farmer, this has a few unusual wrinkles as it almost rationalises the supernatural slasher business of many a bogeyman franchise, functioning almost as a series with several fairly elaborate prologues set over the years before the bulk of the movie plays out in 2019, with familiar horror scenes strung between a jumble of mystifications and dropped clues. It’s a rare slasher movie with too much going on under the mask, with Kennedy’s presence a clue to the Scream-style underpinnings of the notion of a celebrity urban legend killer – as too many characters blunder to their deaths while sub-plots unfold in which almost everything turns out to be not what it seems … but not especially intriguing either, since too many reveals still don’t come up with much in the way of surprise. One murder sequence involves a crane swinging the heavy gravestone of a previous Trick victim, which even the investigating officers deem a ridiculously elaborate stunt.