Thursday, August 19, 2021

SCARE ME (2020) (Acorn Media Blu-ray Review)

SCARE ME (2020) 

Label: Acorn Media International 
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Cert. 15
Duration: 104 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.00:1)
Director: Josh Ruben
Cast: Aya Cash, Chris Redd, Josh Ruben, Rebecca Drysdale 

When advertising copywriter Fred (Josh Ruben, director of Werewolves Within) rents a winter cabin in the woods to kick-start his horror-writing career he discovers that hit horror author Fanny (Aya Cash, The Boys) has also rented a nearby cabin, where she is working on the sequel to her critically lauded debut novel 'Venus'. 
Their initial chance encounter while jogging down a dirt road doesn't exactly create sparks, but later that night during a power outage Fanny pays an unexpected visit to Fred at his cabin, which she immediately notes is considerably smaller than her own. Mutually bored and looking for a distraction they agree to tell each other scary stories to pass the time, a sort of competition. Each acting out stories of bloodthirsty werewolves and ghost dogs for each other, and these scenes are delightful as they attempt to one-up each other. The way it plays out is in a single location is a very stagey set-up, and this could quite easily be adapted to a stage play, but is also quite an entertaining film as they spar using their macabre imagination and storytelling wits. A nice touch is that occasionally their imagination will bleed into reality with sparingly used special effects and even a full-on musical number. 

As the night wears on Fanny increasingly comes of as sarcastic and demeaning, while Fred reveals himself to be intensely insecure and fraught with envy of Fanny's seemingly overnight success, which causes a fun bit of tension between the pair. Later in the night a pizza delivery driver named Carlo (Chris Redd, Saturday Night Live) briefly participates in the storytelling fun with his own stories. As the now trio of storytellers indulge in alcohol and a few snorts of nose-candy they throw themselves even further  into their scary tales, but soon the fictional frights turn into real-life terror as emotions begin to run high during the final leg of the film.

I adored this indie bit of moviemaking, it's a celebration of scary storytelling that is witty, smart and also filled with tasty bits of tension, anchored by two fantastic performances from Cash and Ruben, who get a tasty assist from SNL alum Chris Redd as a pizza delivery guy and Rebecca Drysdale as a Uber driver who also has literary aspirations. 

Something that added to the fun of this one is the rubber-faced antics of Ruben and Redd as they get into their storytelling and take on the personas of the characters they create. Redd has an super expressive face and Ruben has this wonderful exaggerated jaw line that he uses to great effect, especially when portraying a Golem-esque troll in one of his stories. Cash plays things a bit more straight and restrained, but she loves burning Ruben, making snide comments about his lack of craft, drive and dropping digs about his toxic masculinity. 

Scare Me is a super-cool little indie, this is how you make a low-budget horror, keep it focused and sharp, and while it might not appeal tot he gorehounds it is a well-crafted and tasty bit of comedy that turned up the tension for a creepy and effective thrilling finale, with a fun stinger. 

Audio/Video: The Shudder Original horror-comedy Scare Me (2020) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Acorn Media International in 1080p HD framed in 2.00:1 widescreen. 
Audio on the Blu-ray comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround with optional English subtitles. It's a solid dialogue driven presentation with the score from Elegant Too (Hot Fuzz) benefits the most from the surround, with more subtle atmospheric touches like the cracking of an ever present wood fire helping to create the soundstage. 

Acorn offer up a fun selection of extras that compliment this playful yet potent horror thriller, beginning with an Audio Commentary with the  Director Josh Ruben & Cinematographer Brendan H. Banks, an 18-minute episode of the Make Cool Shit! Podcast, 5-minute Music Video, 4-minutes of Outtakes, and a brief 4-minute Q&A with Aya Cash and Josh Ruben that digs into their horror knowledge. 
The single-disc release arrives in an oversized keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork, the same artwork is featured on the disc. Unfortunately the wrap features not just that ugly UK ratings icon, but also a Rotten Tomatoes icon on the front as well, which I could have done without. 

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with the  Director Josh Ruben & Cinematographer Brendan H. Banks
- Make Cool Shit! Podcast Episode 1: Scare Me (18 min) HD 
- "Feel the Music, Feel the Light" Music Video (5 min) HD 
- Outtakes (4 min) HD 
- Q&A with the Cast of Scare Me: Aya Cash (1 min) and Josh Ruben (3 min) HD 

Triple-threat writer/actor/director Josh Ruben is 2 for 2 with his first two feature films, both are entertaining cabin-in-the-woods tales that deftly melds horror and comedy, but they are quite distinct from each other, and while I prefer Werewolves Within, this smaller more personal indie flick comes highly recommended. Acorn Media seems to be the go-to distributor in the UK for these Shudder Originals on home video, and they have loads more on tap including Random Acts of ViolenceTigers Are Not AfraidBelzebuthnand Terrified, so keep an eye out of you're a fan of the Shudder Original films, most of which range from pretty cool to fantastic. 

Screenshots from the Blu-ray: 


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