“Scare Me”

LOUISA: 2 STARS

This film was screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.


LOUISA SAYS:

Two horror writers, one a successful bestselling author (Aya Cash as Fanny) and another a frustrated scribe (Josh Ruben as Fred) searching for inspiration for his first novel, are stuck in a secluded cabin in the woods during a power outage in “Scare Me,” writer – director Josh Ruben‘s unusual horror-comedy hybrid. The two strangers pass the time by telling each other scary stories, each trying to outdo the other. When it becomes clear that Fanny is simply the better storyteller, tensions reach the boiling point and Fred must confront all of his insecurities.

The film is an ode to the lost art of telling scary stories — except these aren’t good stories. There’s one sort of intriguing yarn but the other tales are so boring. Do you really want to hear more stories about a werewolf or a haunting from a dog? This isn’t a traditional horror film and it’s not really scary (nor even that funny), but it remains watchable because of the two leads. They are magnetic together onscreen, their timing boosted by an undeniable chemistry.

“Scare Me” has one of the best yet simplest ideas for a film I’ve ever seen. Rubin uses his limited budget in the cleverest of ways, leaving most of the terror up to the audience’s imagination. The film is lit by flickering candles and firelight, and the mood is set with menacing camera angles and a sparse soundtrack. It’s a fun concept and it’s well directed, but there’s just not enough substance to make it suitable as a feature-length film.

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