Scare Me - Scare Me(Blu Ray) [Acorn Media - 2021]
Scare Me is a rather knowing take on the whole ‘cabin in the woods’ thing. It largely focuses on two people telling horror tales, and it’s a wordy and at times witty horror-comedy- with two impressive leads and a few creepy/ jumping moments. Here on Acorn Media is a recent Blu Ray release- taking in a commentary track and a few other things.
Made in 2020 Scare Me is the first feature-length from actor-turned-director Josh Ruben- the Washington born 'n' bearded 30 something also wrote and plays the lead in the film. And it’s certainly a very well scripted and acted film, with some good use of the interior of the cabin- though there are more than a few issues….and I’ll get onto those later.
The film takes place in the snowbound Catskill's- where a few isolated log cabins are rented out. We start off focusing in on Fred (Ruben)- as he tries to keep awake, while been driven to one of the cabins by Bettina(Rebecca Drysdale) – a chatty and obnoxious taxi driver. He’s dropped off at the deep snow surrounded cabin, spending time on his own, and there's something off about his behaviour. One morning when out jogging around the frozen lake Fred meets Fanny(Aya Cash) a quirky, if snappy and at times smug horror writer, who has just made a huge smash with her take on the Zombie genre. The day drifts into the night, and Fred is just hanging out at his cabin doing not a lot- suddenly the power goes out-and Fanny comes knocking, fairly soon the pair agree to start trying to creepy each other out, by telling rapidly more detailed horror tales.
The cabin interior is used well enough, with good use of shadow and firelight. Both Ruben and Drysdale, are clearly very talented and skilled actors, and Ruben's script is full of horror film references. Early on there are a few generally creepy moments- but as it moves on the tales and the format starts to get rather tired, with the scares/ creepiness becoming less and less. At around mid-way point we get the addition of Carlo(Chris Redd) a buoyant and cheerful pizza delivery guy. Briefly, this adds a few sly sparks of interest to things, though ultimately, we drift back to the rather stagey stories- which are edge with sound effects and lights. The film runs one hour and forty-three minutes, and it does certainly feel that length- with the premise stretched on way too long. I initially enjoyed what Ruben was trying to do with Scare Me- been fairly curious to see how it would unfold, and what the two characters were really all about. But by the hour mark, I’d lost interest, with the remaining forty or so minutes feeling like a slog. I certainly respect what Scare Me is trying to do, and I did enjoy/ appreciate references and the early part of the film
On the extras side, we get a commentary track from director/writer/ actor Josh Ruben and Cinematography Brendan H. Banks- this is a nice chatty and informative track, with the pair discussing shot set-ups, locations, on-set stories, shooting schedules, scriptwriting and character building, etc. We get Make Cool Shit, an eighteen-minute podcast discussing the making of the film, around two-minute quick-fire Q & A with each of the two leads, the music video for a song in the film, four minutes of outtakes, and a photo gallery- so a good selection of content.
Scare Me often feels like an extended episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Yes, it’s full to brim with horror film references, and at points is decidedly witty and clever, but it ultimately feels too stagey and too knowing for its own good, with not enough real chills, scares, or really any edge to be had.