SCARE ME is a quirky little horror comedy focusing on two horror authors who spend the evening in each other’s company at a log cabin in the woods. Fred works at an advertising agency by day but is a budding writer and actor with dreams of writing a a terrifying werewolf revenge film. Fanny is a successful horror author working on ideas for her next work after the critical acclaim her novel Venus garnered. Both are spending time away in the sticks to work on their projects but when a power cut leaves them without electricity for their laptops, Fanny decides to join new acquaintance Fred at his cabin. With little else to do, she suggests they tell each other scary stories and thus begins the night that will change both their lives forever.
When I sat down for SCARE ME, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s certainly not your average horror comedy and the difference is what brings the attraction but also its curse.
Right from the very beginning, the film is big on telling stories with the small group of various characters it features, and it’s these interactions which provide the humour. Whilst The Boys star Aya Cash is humorous in a more straight-to-the-point way as serious novelist Fanny, writer, director and star Josh Ruben is the utter goofball extraordinaire as Fred. With a wide range of voices, mimicking scenes from horror films of the past, Fred is a complete horror nerd and his energy and enthusiasm is simply infectious. He might not be the sharpest tool in the box, and his lack of experience in writing may put him at a disadvantage, but his heart is in the right place as we see the duo banter back and forth. Things really turn up a notch later on in the film when both Fred and Fanny are joined by SNL star Chris Redd as a pizza delivery guy Carlo who surprisingly doesn’t seem weirded out by their shenanigans.
The deconstruction of horror tropes to the structuring of horror scenes and stories makes for a curious watch as Fred and Fanny try to scare one another, with each story seemingly topping the one before it. It’s an interesting angle, and whilst it’s not a rib-tickling comedy or actually horrifying by any means, it does raise a smile as the cast go all-in on acting out their spooky stories. Like an intimate play or panto, the film seems to build up in a slow-burn style as we get to know more about who the characters are though the ending is more abrupt in nature than you might expect.
Whilst I kind of enjoyed the movie to some degree, it does become a drag through the middle as it seems to repeat itself a bit too much with very little story development. Thankfully, we have Carlo’s entrance which is the injection of excitement which is needed but even that is short lived and does little to change the trajectory of the film. SCARE ME is less about the storyline but more on the performers and the actors who make it happen. I haven’t a bad word to say about their performances and all delivered their characters with great passion in what is essentially a light-hearted comedy with a touch of horror that analyses the trials and tribulations that any author must go through, horror genre writer or not.
Something else that the film comments on is inequalities experienced by working individuals, be it creatives or the wider working world. However, the way in which this is approached leaves a bad taste in the mouth and in some way sends up the character making the comments. Aya Cash’s character in hit superhero TV series, The Boys, also addresses sexism in the workplace but the script in that is much more effective at getting its point across and does it in a way that doesn’t ridicule someone else in the process. In SCARE ME, Fanny comes off as a bit of an arrogant arse at times, berating Fred as a typical “white man” and using other terminology that denotes him down to the colour of his skin and gender. Despite these sour exchanges, Fanny has a confidence about her that is admirable, pushing Fred to explore his thought processes behind his storylines. Fred comes across as so incapable in comparison that he even has struggle lighting a fire that Fanny does with ease. It gives off the vibe that Fred is very inexperienced as Fanny takes charge, a flip on your traditional movies where the woman usually takes the backseat as the male character dominates. Whilst Fred doesn’t deserve the tiresome “white male” bashing, he is guilty of expecting success without putting the legwork in. Fanny is constantly writing notes, approaches her work from fresh angles that haven’t been done to death, and actually reads works by others, whereas Fred thinks his bare-bones werewolf story is enough to make him a successful writer. The longer into the night they chat and tell each other stories, the more Fred begins to realise he’s not as clever as he first thought and begins to see the mindset needed to be a professional novelist whilst nursing his dented pride.
Whilst aspects of SCARE ME create an entertaining atmosphere as though you’re right there in the cabin with them, ultimately the movie doesn’t quite live up to expectations. This is definitely a film to be appreciated for the performances of its stars but offers little else other than opportunistic jokes, some of which work better than others.