Films claimed to be shot in one long, continuous take are often wondrous technical achievements, from Hitchcock’s Rope to Sam Mendes’ war epic 1917. Most of these contain several hidden cuts in order to preserve the illusion and to make it logistically easier to achieve.

source: Shout! Studios

Rolling a camera for 90 minutes uninterrupted is indeed an impressive feat and the latest effort is Jud Cremata’s chilly Let’s Scare Julie. Cremata says the film is indeed filmed in one shot; the crew made four different Let’s Scare Julies over four nights and what’s hitting our home screens on October 2 is the version they deemed overall the best. As a technical feat, Let’s Scare Julie is indeed impressive, but impressive does not always a good film make.

A Prank Gone Wrong

Let’s Scare Julie focuses on Emma, who has just moved in with her cousin Taylor after the death of her and her sister Lilly’s father. Emma is severely asthmatic as we learn after Taylor and her friends scare Emma in an attempt to go viral with a prank video. The girls then have the idea to scare Julie, a reclusive girl who lives in a house across the street that may or may not be haunted. The prank goes horribly wrong after only two of the four girls return. Is there something supernatural going on here or is it just a very elaborate attempt to scare Emma even further?

Strangely, a film called Let’s Scare Julie and previously known as Let’s Scare Julie To Death, features very few actual scares. The film takes place almost entirely in Emma and Taylor’s house, the first 25 minutes taking place in Emma’s room and because it’s all done in one take, it’s forced Cremata to stick with one character, in this case, Emma, who stays behind. We never see what horrors actually unfold in Julie’s house, which is probably supposed to make us feel at unease, but instead, it just lacks tension.

source: Shout! Studios

Like most one-shot films, Let’s Scare Julie is a chaotic feature; editing creates rhythm and guides you through a film, but without it, a film will unfold in a hurry. Often, this suits horror films, and the last 20 minutes of Let’s Scare Julie racks up the tension nicely, but otherwise, the film fails to utilise its format properly. Simply, not enough happens that’s scary or exciting.

Bullying Is The Real Horror Here

Cremata clearly has a lot to say about bullying and the different nature of bullying today. Bullies aren’t necessarily the mean kids at school anymore who will call you names or stick your head in a toilet, but can now be your own friends, who are trying to achieve fame on your expense or by forcing you to do something you don’t want to. Or they could be the girls next door who are looking for easy thrills and a bit of internet fame with dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. Cremata balances the mundane and supernatural here with admirable enthusiasm, but Let’s Scare Julie remains too muted and uninteresting to really get its point across.

All of the characters are thoroughly unlikable; they all lack basic human decency and again, the film’s chosen format feels limiting rather than expressive and artistic. We’re thrown into a time and a place with this group of girls, but none of them are allowed any nuance or character development because we only observe them for 80 uninterrupted minutes. It doesn’t help that the entire premise consists of them doing something morally wrong, even if its all fun and games and supposed to be innocent.

Good Effort By Young Actors

Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson is likable as Emma but lacks the heightened emotions horror often runs on. She goes from a little freaked out and worried to normalcy and relative passiveness too quickly. There is no panic, no hysteria, and most importantly, no fear. Emma is our eyes into the whole situation, we see everything through her so if she doesn’t experience or show fear, we won’t feel it either and ultimately, this might be Let’s Scare Julie and Cremata’s biggest misstep. All the other actresses fair well but aren’t given much to do with their seriously limited screen time.

source: Shout! Studios

The cast is delightfully women-heavy, with the only men being Emma’s Uncle Vince (Blake Robbins) and Julie’s Dad (Bill Timoney) and the film occasionally portrays the fragility and complexity of female friendships. There are themes of peer pressure and the inherent need to please, but these aren’t explored enough to make it a running theme.

Let’s Scare Julie: Did It Scare Us?

While Let’s Scare Julie attempts to do something different and something impressive, its focus on style and technical aspects over scares and story hurts it too much, rendering it a weirdly boring and bland horror film. Its final act manages to bring along some frightening images and a decent jump scare or two, but it never becomes more than a film with a gimmick and some cool masks which may have become iconic if the film was scarier.

What did you think of Let’s Scare Julie? Did it scare or fascinate you? Let us know in the comments! 

 Let’s Scare Julie hits VOD on October 2, 2020.

Watch Let’s Scare Julie

Powered by JustWatch


Does content like this matter to you?

Become a Member and support film journalism. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about cinema – get access to our private members Network, give back to independent filmmakers, and more.

Join now!

Similar Posts