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Film Review: “Scare Me” Is More Parody of Horror Than Decent Ode to It

Written by: Adam Vaughn | September 30th, 2020

Film poster: “Scare Me”

Scare Me (Josh Ruben, 2020) 2 out of 4 stars.

Director and lead actor Josh Ruben goes all out on the comedy side of Scare Me, a story of a writer named Fred (Ruben) who journeys to his cabin in the winter woods, where he meets Fanny (Aya Cash, Amazon’s The Boys), his cabin’s next-door neighbor. Together, they spend an evening over a fire, trying their hardest to “scare” the other with scary stories. The film instantly establishes an upbeat, comedic tone, with Ruben self-directing the action to hilarious effect using a simplistic setting and story, with minimalist locations and cast. Ruben and Cash spend the duration of the film driving the action, and the use of sound and editing to waver between reality and fiction creates an interesting and bouncy pace. Each has an energetic performance, both trying to outdo the other with their “scary storytelling.

The film parodies the conventional horror film archetypes, using comedy to both utilize and riff off the stylistic techniques of the genre. Scare Me maintains this tone for the duration of the film, with plenty of intentional on-the-nose commentary of scary movies. Were there more supporting cast, the film’s tone would mirror the type of upbeat, ironic humor found in films such as Scream or The Cabin in the Woods, yet the unfortunate truth to Scare Me is it is limited to following Fred and Fanny’s journey, which, while fresh and charming, tends to wear the movie down through repetition. To some degree, the introduction of Saturday Night Live‘s Chris Redd spices up the film, adding variety, and naturally boosts the comedic pacing, yet Redd’s performance falls right into the tone of the first hour of the piece, without leading the film anywhere else.

l-r: Aya Cash and Josh Ruben in SCARE ME ©Shudder

At the end of the day, Scare Me promises a twist and turn into the realm of horror, led by a funny and energetic exposition and tone. Yet director Ruben doesn’t seem to ever get past the premise to take the film anywhere exciting, or surprise us with any plot points that raise the stakes for the characters. While the film delivers a clever and witty concept, it runs with it from start to finish, and by the finale of the film, the film’s last ditch effort to come across as creepy does not deliver the luster it deserves. For fans of the genre that are looking for a funny and easy break from the slashing and scares, Scare Me will certainly change it up during this upcoming Halloween season. But for fans looking to go deeper, you will find there’s very little to be found.

Chris Redd in SCARE ME ©Shudder

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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