Monday, June 22, 2020

Streaming Reviews: Scare Package (2019)

Streaming Reviews: Scare Package (2019)

Platform: Shudder

Directed By: Courtney Andujar, Hilary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn

Starring: Jeremy King, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn, Toni Trucks, Chase Williamson, Joe Bob Briggs

    Scare Package reminds me a lot of the member berries from the series South Park. Member Halloween? I member. Member the Freddy car from Nightmare on Elm Street? I member. Member Joe Bob Briggs? I member. You get the picture. Scare Package is a collection of different horror stories all framed around a horror film obsessed video store clerk and his new employee. Sometimes less is more. Just because you can blend in every '80's horror into a self-aware smoothie doesn't mean you should. The major factor of enjoying Scare Package comes down to two questions: Do you like meta jokes? And I mean LOTS and LOTS of them. Do you like movie references, and not subtle ones but like name checking horror movies and also the troupes used?  If you do, you will most likely love this movie. If, you like me, feel like the Meta-horror genre is over-done. Not to mention a lazy writing device that isnt nearly as clever as the writers thinks it is, you my friend are in for a long hard ride. The movie even lampshades the over-used Meta-troupes fairly early in the film, which I STRESS isnt the same as being clever about it. I repeat acknowledging the shitty Meta jokes isnt the same as subverting them or doing anything different with them.  I truly think that in small doses I could have let this slide but it just hammers the point in just about every minute of the run-time.

    So, I had been warned by other reviews that this film lends more on the comedy side of horror, which for me personally isn't a deal breaker. In fact, its tricky but horror and comedy can be a perfect marriage. For example, 2010's Tucker and Dale Vs Evil is a brilliant film because it subverts and deconstructs the slasher genre without relying on name-checking movies, overt references and of course fourth-wall jokes. And, its a laugh-riot with stellar performances. That film works as well as it does because it can do this kind of self-reference genre troupes but it still feels very much its own movie. Scare Package never feels like it stands on its own feet and has anything super original to say.

   The segments within the framing device are really something. They all take fairly big swings, some range from "Oh, that was at-least interesting" to, "Um. What?" Again, I hate to be a buzz kill but all of the stories, even the more solid entries could have used a polish writing wise. Some have fun and even interesting concepts that just miss the mark. Lets take MISTER for example. I loved the idea of fusing toxic manhood and the supposed "alpha status" with werewolves but, again the themes are never taken far enough to be interesting or memorable. The chocolate bar gag was pretty clever, I will give them that. Probably my favorite segment was So Much to Do written directed and starring Baron Vaughn. This is a seg-way into what I think whats about the film, because  I dont get enjoyment from crapping on a film, especially one clearly made by horror fans. As I said the film is probably more comedy than it is horror, and, I admit there are some pretty funny jokes and gags throughout. Damned if i didnt get at least some chuckles here and there. Now onto what I think this film really has going for it, the effects. Wow. The filmmakers truly celebrate the art of practical movie magic and that love is strong. Goopy gloopy messy and gallons of blood, this is a gore hounds wet dream. And, despite the flaws, each segment has a high energy feel and I dont get the sense that the filmmakers are simply phoning it in. Truly these filmmakers took their love of video renting, 80's horror and over-the-top comedy and stitched together an anthology. But, again it comes down to the film feels wildly unfocused feels the need to bash us over the head with its influences. At just shy of an hour and fifty minutes the film over stays its welcome. The final wrap around segment just goes on for an absurd amount of film which starts to get indulgent and boring.  Look, I'm all for fun even outrageous cinema but you need a skill set to pull it off. Its not to suggest the film is devoid of talent, far from it, it just tries way too hard and comes off annoying.

   Scare Package begs the question is Meta horror over done? For every New Nightmare, Scream and Cabin in the Woods that uses skilled writing to take apart the horror genre, filmmaking troupes and cliches and re assemble them into something exciting Scare Package does not. Again, my problem isn't with the heart and passion or the effects but with how much the film falls back on the same joke over and over. Its like References: The Movie. Some people love this movie and hey, more power to you. I was that '90's kid that always had an fistful of video tapes from my local mom and pop and I like to think I am extremely knowledgeable when it comes to films in general especially horror.  I have seen literally thousands of them from all over the globe. I dont say this as a brag but to say I am certainly this films target audience but it failed to connect with me. Even the nostalgia for mom and pop rentals and Joe Bob (his cameo is epic btw) wasnt enough to make this an enjoyable movie.This is currently streaming on Shudder if you still want to check it out.

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