Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Movie review: Husk (2011)

Scarecrows are scary - fact.  That's why they use them to scare crows away from crops and other stuff.  So a horror film based on one is a good idea, isn't it?  Well, yes, by and large.  It isn't a new idea, scary scarecrows that is, so it's down to the telling to give us a fresh spin on the yarn.

Join the harvest - ah, I get it now.

Six dumb teenagers crash their vehicle in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cornfields.  When they awake from their post-crash concussion, one of their number is missing and the inevitable search within the indomitable fields of sky-high corn leads them to a scary stalking scarecrow.  Borrowing elements from a number of movies such as Blair Witch (eery deserted and scary house), Children of the Corn (big scary cornfields), Jeepers Creepers (invincible killer with scary mask) and a few others, Husk ticks every box.  Stupid American teenagers making lots of bad choices and illogical decisions? Check.  Lots of opportunities for jumpy scares? Check.  Enigmatic, scary serial killer? Check.  Stupid aliens landing in cornfields? Erm, no, we'll leave that to Signs eh?

At only 79 minutes long, we're not going to get an in-depth character study or Byzantine plot developments but what there is in such a short space of time is pretty good.  The back story is told through (conveniently-placed) expositional flashbacks along with some pretty big assumptions made by the mainly dumb cast of unknowns.  It just about clunks its way through the plot.

The setting works well as the cornfield provides a good foil for things to jump out of.  The claustrophobic elements are effective and the sense of danger lurking in every corner is palpable.  It didn't need to take place at night however as the cornfields are foreboding enough without having to add another layer of darkness.

We're not too bothered about the characters, with most of them being entirely unsympathetic.  The obligatory nerdy-type is perhaps the one most people would lend an sympathetic ear to but even then, his stupidity knows no bounds.  On a limited budget, you'd expect limited acting skills but here, the 'stars' do shine in their own way and play to the parts well.  The story is plot-lite, it has to be said.  In 79 minutes, it couldn't be anything else and like Father Dougals sweater, it would be so (very) easy to pick gaping large holes.  But we won't except to say, 'Stay in the goddam house until daybreak'.

We did like this film and any piece of 'horrific' entertainment such as this that can elicit gasps of surprise is on the right track.  With its 18-rating, we were expecting much more gore and scares though and we thought the finished article was no more than a 15.  There was minimal swearing (bollocks), no nudity (boo) and the gore was mainly left to the imagination.  Where 18 came from we'll never know.  It WAS very jumpy though but the ending was 'meh'.

Overall: 6/10.  You won't feel you've lost 79 minutes of your time if you watch it.

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