SCARE ME (October 20th)
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...
Time was of the essence again tonight (work is hectic right now) but the good thing is that it means I don't have the luxury of spending 27 minutes searching through streaming platforms or the TV channels or my DVD collection for something to watch. Tonight's pick was based purely on loading up Shudder and selecting the first film that popped up. I did a very quick check on my phone just to make sure that it wasn't meant to be utterly awful and was satisfied almost immediately. However, apart from reading the logline (During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories) I made no effort to watch any trailers, read any reviews or even look at any images. I went in with no real expectations at all and I find these viewings quite often are the most rewarding. Oh, I should probably mention the film shouldn't I? It's only just recently been released on Shudder and it's called Scare Me.
After watching this, it feels quite difficult to try and explain what it is about. Because on one hand it isn't about very much but in some ways, it's about quite a lot. I realise this makes little sense at this point. But in terms of the nuts and bolts, the film is about a struggling (aspiring) actor and writer called Fred who heads out to a remote cabin to try and clear his head and get some writing done. He's not the most disciplined though and looks for things to distract him from the task at hand (we've all been there!). He goes for a jog and meets a woman called Fanny, who is renting a cabin nearby and it turns out she is actually a successful author. She's not overly impressed with his claims to be a writer however and the two part ways with seemingly little intention of ever meeting up again. That is until later that night when, after a power cut, Fanny knocks on Fred's window to check to see if he has any power. Inside the cabin, the two have a few drinks and challenge each other to tell each other scary stories. To give away any more info than that would be spoiling things a little...so I won't. Suffice to say things get a bit weird...
I took a quick look at the reviews in a bit more depth after the film finished and wasn't surprised to see that people either seemed to really like it – or detest it. I'm a notorious fence sitter with a lot of these films but I definitely have more positive things to say about it than negative. Scare Me is an odd kind of film, one that I find it very difficult to find something to compare it too. It's almost theatrical in nature, with 95% of the film taking place in one location and the cast can be counted on one hand. I could actually see it working as a stage show. Much of the film is essentially two people telling each other stories and it's their dramatic relaying of these tales that makes it a bit more than just a couple of talking heads. We do get sound effects and a few visual effects too but it's the central performances that stand out. The two leads, Josh Ruben (who also wrote and directed the film) and Aya Cash (from the Amazon series The Boys) really do a sterling job in keeping the energy flowing. The film is a comedy before it is a horror and both are responsible for some great witty exchanges and deadpan humour. At times it feels a bit too much like an improv drama lesson but on the whole, they're able to make the format work. Aya Cash is especially a joy to watch as the salty, quick-witted celebrity author, whilst Ruben is a perfect foil.
I could go into the themes explored in the movie but I won't because a) I don't necessarily agree with the accepted interpretations of some of them and b) because it would probably go some way to giving away the 'twist' that happens towards the end. I was fully aware that the film was not simply going to be two people larking about, telling each other scary stories for 105 minutes (the film could have shed a quarter of an hour to be fair). It had to be leading to something – and indeed it was. It's a little surprising but it's logical enough and it transplants the genre from moody comedy to very black horror-centric comedy.
I do get why it may not be every one's cup of tea. If you don't buy into the format or warm to the characters this will be a rough ride. Even I admit that the drama school theatrics occasionally outstay their welcome. But I generally found it to be quirky, intimate and very funny (with lots of horror references) and it made for perfect viewing for a cold night and a glass of beer (or two). The fact this is Ruben's debut feature makes it doubly impressive too. .