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“Just be good to people. No matter what.”
Genre: Assholes Attending A Sleepover Gone Wrong
Year Released: 2019
Pedigree: First feature film by writer/director Jud Cremata.
Where I Watched: Shudder
Synopsis: Emma and her sister Lilly just moved in with her cousin Taylor after Emma’s parents passed away. And there are two more new faces in the neighborhood; Julie and her dad, Taylor’s new neighbors. So Taylor and her three bitchy friends decide to go get to know Julie the only way they know how; by pranking her. I’m sure nothing bad will happen from this brilliant plan. Did I mention that house was supposed to have been haunted?
Fabulous or Frustrating?: With a few tweaks here and there, Scare could have been excellent. The “strange scary house in the neighborhood” trope is one everybody has heard about, typically back in elementary school. That there’s a new, as-yet unknown family living in that house now? Nice touch. So is the filmed in one take/real time look of the movie, ala Rope or Birdman. Though Scare doesn’t come close to those classics, it’s not a bad flick to put on if you’re looking for horror that doesn’t demand much from you, and gives you bare bones chills with little to think about.
But in trying to slowly build tension by doling out information piece by piece, this story ends up doling out too little, and the tidbits we get are too meager to do much of anything with. We’re given a voodoo doll, loaded guns, a drunken dad, a haunted house and missing child, and a new neighbor who covers her face. Okay, let’s rock. But the story does very little with all that goodness, which is a crying shame.
Example? The revelation of sweet, kind Emma’s past prior to moving in with Taylor’s family is just dropped at our feet. There’s no build-up, just hey – here it is. And forget knowing what happened to her parents, even though there are strong hints early on that Emma’s dad knew about the house across the street. Ditto with the Big Secret of why Taylor’s dad/Emma’s Uncle Vince is a drunk. Plop, here it is. Yeah, okay. Cool, cool. That said, Blake Robbins as Uncle Vince delivers a fantastic performance in that scene. The same can be said for the entire cast, who all bring their A-game to the material.
Scare does have a few things to recommend it. The acting is particularly good for a low budget chiller. The dialogue between the teens is so believable I felt pulled back into sleepovers of yore. And there’s a strong Don’t Be A Bully M’kay vibe, which is a good one for the teen and tween audiences this film is most likely targeting. However, throughout the film I kept thinking about how I’d have done things differently/added bits here and there. That’s no fun, and definitely not scary.
The climax of the film ends up being more Okay That Happened instead of scary. Scare makes it seem like Emma’s back story ties things together, but we’re not given much to work with beyond the basic “important” drop. A very lackluster way of dealing with what should be the biggest reveal of the film. Which is a shame, as there was so much to work with, and the first third of the film felt like things were going to get to a very spooky place.
This is definitely a film that feels like the creators were so familiar with the material they forgot to put a good chunk of it on screen. Even the deaths (or whatever happens) all occur off-screen, making things confusing and unsatisfying. To get down with the kids, Scare is more WTF than OMG.
Freak-O-Meter: 2.5 out of 5 Freaks