By the narrowest of margins, I’m going to recommend Trick.
It was barely compelling enough for me to see it through, largely based on a gutsy performance by Omar Epps as FBI agent Mike Denver, a haunted man tracking a Halloween-masked serial killer.
Epps is the big fish in this cinematic small pond and acquits himself as a true professional, elevating a maxed-out credit-card budget and a ponderous script to a level that is almost entirely serviceable.
Nutshell: Anonymous adolescent Patrick (“Trick”) Weaver (Thomas Niemann) becomes an internet celebrity after flipping his mask and stabbing a bunch of classmates at a Halloween party. Despite being gutted by a fireplace poker, falling out a five-story window, and getting shot several times by Denver and Sheriff Jayne (Ellen Adair), Trick’s body is never found.
Coincidentally, teens in neighboring towns are similarly slaughtered on subsequent Halloweens, leading a determined Denver to ponder the possibility of a copycat killer—or one that’s seemingly returned from the grave.
Director and co-writer Patrick Lussier is an industry lifer with editing credits that date back to MacGyver in the late 1980s. It’s not surprising that Trick is competently crafted in terms of action and pace, and there’s more than enough blood and guts to pacify the psychos.
However, if you’re paying attention at all, there are plot holes aplenty, and when some characters we barely know reveal themselves to be key figures in a vast conspiracy, the effect is more confusing than clarifying.
Mostly what you get with Trick are familiar bloody tropes taped together in haphazard fashion, in the hope that genre fans will recognize and appreciate a very modest tribute.