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New Release Review [Shudder] - SCARE PACKAGE

scare package review
Horror anthology pokes fun at the genre's tropes.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Emily Hagins, Anthony Cousins, Chris McInroy, Aaron B. Koontz, Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn

Starring: Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn, Chase Williamson, Jocelyn DeBoer, Jeremy King, Dustin Rhodes, Toni Trucks, Hawn Tran

scare package poster


More so than arguably any other genre, horror has its recognisable tropes. Lovers being murdered just after, or sometimes during sex. Would be victims fleeing from zombies/werewolves/masked killers while wearing high heels. Cars refusing to start just when an escape vehicle is desperately required. But such tropes are part of why we love bad horror movies almost as much as the great ones. Horror/comedy anthology Scare Package pokes fun at such clich├ęs through a variety of shorts and an extended framing narrative.

Writer/director Emily Hagins - now a horror veteran after making her debut at the age of 13 with 2006's Pathogen - kicks things off with the most effective of the shorts. Meta with a capital M, 'Cold Open' follows Mike Myers (Jon Michael Simpson), a horror movie character sick of playing bit parts. Mike wants to be the hero for a change, but try as he might to change the narrative of his latest movie, in which he's meant to terrorise a pair of babysitters, things follow the traditional script as Mike causes bloodshed against his will. Hagins' film plays out in similar fashion to Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, and it sets a smart, witty tone that the rest of the shorts never quite meet.

scare package review


Next up is 'One Time in the Woods'. Director Chris McInroy's short is by far the most enjoyable of the bunch, centred around a bunch of campers who encounter a man melting into a mass of goo, along with a backwoods killer. The icky practical effects recall the good old days of Screaming Mad George and there a couple of nice, cringey one-liners.

The directorial debut of actor Noah Segan, 'M.I.S.T.E.R.' has an intriguing setup, with a hen-pecked husband joining a misogynistic self-help group whose members are actually werewolves. It's all over far too quickly however, failing to explore its timely milieu.

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Twins Courtney and Hillary Andujar, best known as production designers, combine their talents for 'Girl’s Night Out of Body', a mix of body-horror and feminist revenge movie that suffers from its brevity. Unlike many horror shorts, it boasts a traditional three act structure, but it's all rushed through too quickly for the viewer to get really invested in its unique premise. It's the one short here that really should be expanded into a feature.

scare package review


Anthony Cousins' 'The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill' has fun at the expense of the trope of the final girl's refusal to ensure the masked killer is really dead. The FG here (Chelsey Grant) is determined to make sure the killer she's captured and tied up is finished for good, but somehow her friends keep dying regardless. This one is more of a skit than a short, but never quite raises the chuckles it sets out to.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - The Ground Beneath My Feet ]

The weakest of the bunch is actor Baron Vaughn's directorial debut 'So Much To Do'. This one sets out to make fun of spoiler culture, and while it has an effective punchline, it's messy and unclear just what exactly we're watching. It involves two characters who swap bodies, yet one behaves as though they're still in their original body. Maybe I missed something but I couldn't wrap my head around this one.

scare package review


All of the above are held together by the Aaron B. Koontz directed framing narrative 'Rad Chad's Horror Emporium'. Set in a video store run by geeky blowhard Chad (Jeremy King), it recalls '90s Kevin Smith with its slacker vibe and movie references. This morphs into the final short, 'Horror Hypothesis', also directed by Koontz. Chad finds himself held captive in a mysterious facility where experiments are being conducted by scientists who wish to find a way to outsmart horror's tropes. Featuring an appearance by a horror community icon, it's a fun end to the portmanteau, somewhat making up for the trio of weak shorts that preceded it.

Rare is the horror anthology in which every segment is a success, and Scare Package is no different. There's nothing outstanding here, but there are three fun segments that just about outweigh the weaker shorts to make this a worthwhile Friday night watch for less discerning horror fans.

Scare Package is on Shudder from June 18th.




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