Written by: Matt Patti | June 17th, 2020
Scare Package (Courtney Andujar/Hilary Andujar/Anthony Cousins/Emily Hagins/Aaron Koontz/Chris McInroy/Noah Segan/Baron Vaughn, 2019) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Scare Package is an ambitious anthology horror film featuring the work of seven different up-and-coming horror directors. It’s also an ode to horror itself, with some segments parodying horror tropes and containing comedic twists that subvert expectations while others stick to regular horror beats and follow the standard formula. Much like the Scream franchise (which is also mentioned in the film), Scare Package examines the “rules” of horror films while sometimes following and at other times breaking them.
Scare Package begins with its first of many short stories contained within itself. After this short horror story plays out, the film transitions to a boy pitching his script (the segment the audience just saw) to an older man. The older man is Chad Buckley (Jeremy King), the owner of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium. Chad dismisses the young man’s script as too confusing, which I’d agree with, and makes his way to his horror shop, which contains many classic horror films on VHS tapes and other horror memorabilia. It is here that the main story takes place, as Chad is hiring a new employee, Hawn (Hawn Tran) and is completing his “orientation” by making Hawn familiar with horror tropes and increasing his general horror knowledge. Throughout this orientation, the other tales in the anthology are presented as films in the store that Chad and Hawn view.
Each entry in this anthology is made by a different team with a different director at the helm. There are seven different directors and 14 different writers working on seven different segments, so the viewer is presented with a vast array of work from different creators. Each work is unique and stands alone, and each has a very different tone. Diehard horror fans will enjoy each segment as they all take a stab at a different subgenre of horror and contain many familiar tropes, sometimes even acknowledging their tropes. The effects work and cinematography are all very well done in each entry, which is impressive given that vastly different teams worked on each. The production value is also very high on each.
As the press release states, Scare Package is a film “made by horror fans, for horror fans.” I, an avid horror fanatic, fall into this category and therefore found myself having a good time. However, to non-horror fans or even horror dilettantes, the film may come off as cheesy, overly bloody/gory, and lacking a strong plot. Horror fanatics will enjoy the bevy of references to classic horror films and the alludes to rules of horror films, but general audiences, even those who like scary movies, may feel a bit left out and become disinterested. The short stories themselves highlight aspects of the horror genre but are neither effectively scary nor masterfully humorous. They are all watchable and enjoyable but nothing remarkable happens in any of the segments. The segments also more often follow horror tropes than parody them; I wish the opposite were the case.
The title Scare Package perfectly captures the essence of this film, although once again it isn’t frightening to me at all. It’s a collection of different short horror scenes that are loosely connected by one overarching storyline and features good work samples from different young creative teams. None of the work is extraordinary, but none are poor, either. A few stick out as more memorable than others and a few are easily forgettable, but still decent quality. As a horror enthusiast I am entertained by each entry in this anthology, but most general moviegoers will likely find them mediocre. The film is truly a great showcase of great horror effects work and cinematography techniques, though. Overall, I think Scare Package is a fun film that most audience members will find serviceable, but horror fans will especially enjoy.
[Scare Packagecomes out on Shudder on June 18, 2020.]