SCARE ME: One Hell of a Good Time!

Tis the season: the spooky season! Yes, alongside pumpkin-spiced everything and the arrival of cool weather, many a film lover is feeling entitled to a good scare. The early autumn, leading up to Halloween, conjures up images of hayrides and cocoa and spooky stories shared around a campfire. For many of us, our first brush with the horror genre came in the form of the ghost story or the urban legend. There’s a warm familiarity to it and that’s precisely why Scare Me should be a must-watch, this October.

SCARE ME: One Hell of a Good Time!
source: Shudder

Scare Me is written and directed by College Humor‘s Josh Ruben, who also stars in the film. Scare Me debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by horror streaming giant Shudder prior to its festival premiere. The film also stars Aya Cash and Saturday Night Live‘s Chris Redd.

Fred (Ruben) is a 9 to 5 copywriter that dreams of being the next big thing in horror. In hopes of jumpstarting the creative juices on his novel, he rents a remote mountain cabin. There he meets Fanny (Aya Cash), a best-selling horror author who both inspires and infuriates him as the image of the smug success he has yet to attain for himself. During a winter storm, the power goes out on the mountain and Fanny seeks Fred out for company… and for a good scare. The two swap spooky stories and Fred’s mutual admiration and resentment for Fanny starts to build.

The Art of the Spook

As I mentioned at the outset, horror has its roots in frightening fun. The tradition of the ghost story is a tradition of connection, back to basics storytelling, and the desire to entertain. Scare Me has a wonderful grasp on not just the proud tradition of horror, but the community that allows the horror to endure. And it’s just too much fun!

To be a horror fan goes beyond referencing the greats and a gleeful love of gore – though, all of that does contribute. Loving horror is about being involved in the community and sharing that knowledge and fun with others. Scare Me seeks to be nothing more than a good time and successfully pulls off being a love letter to a rich and diverse community. It’s an incredibly imaginative story that approaches the genre from a perspective rarely seen. Sure, it’s solidly a horror-comedy, but horror is not the focus – at least, not in the traditional sense. It walks like a horror movie and talks like a horror movie, but it’s really a film about the people that love horror and what it’s like to share in that.

SCARE ME: One Hell of a Good Time!
source: Shudder

All of that being said, Scare Me is not a shallow piece. Horror, for the whole of its history, has functioned as a social commentator. A lot of our greatest social anxieties have been exorcised through the context of horror and Scare Me is no exception. The film offers criticism of the fraught relationship between women and the horror community, a meditation on online trolls (subtle, but it’s there), and the horrific reality that our insecurities and our dreams are more closely related than we’d like to think. Scare Me makes its point clearly and elegantly, without sacrificing the fun-loving nature of the film. It’s a delicately executed dance and speaks volumes to Josh Ruben‘s filmmaking chops. Really well done.

Small Ensemble, Big Energy

Scare Me is much more than a loving return to the roots of horror. This is just a damn good movie. Heaps of praise go to Josh Ruben as our writer/director/star triple threat for absolutely nailing this. Ruben steals the show as Fred, bringing a fantastic balance of goofiness and sincerity to a really unique character. Fred is the (wonderfully written) apex of the horror community, the social evils addressed in the film, and a combo of monster/Final Fred. It’s a fascinating role and Ruben does the absolute most with it.

SCARE ME: One Hell of a Good Time!
source: Shudder

The entire cast, limited as it may be, has the dial turned all the way up. Physical comedy factors heavily here and each member of the ensemble nails it. Though we’re confined to the space of Fred’s cabin, their performances reach into the imagination and recreate entire horror adventures. Each actor, through their performance and own skills as storytellers, is able to transport the audience even farther than merely enjoying the film. We get to watch these characters transport each other. Honestly, the most impressive thing about Scare Me is how much potential it finds in the limited. A small cast translates to big energy. The confines of a cabin set become the imagination’s playground. The characters in the film pass the time by creating fantastic worlds out of the imagination and Scare Me is, itself, a monument to the imagination. I wish more films had the confidence to attempt this and applaud Scare Me for carrying it off so well.

Conclusion: Scare Me

Scare Me is thrilling, chilling, and absolutely delightful. It evokes perfectly that feeling of sharing ghost stories among friends. Through the spooks and the shivers persists the warm glow of fun and humor. What else can I say? Scare Me is an utter joy and comes with my highest recommendation.

Have you seen Scare Me? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Scare Me arrives on Shudder, just in time for your spooky season watching, on October 1, 2020

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