Featured DVD Review: Scarecrow
Scarecrow is a TV movie that debuted last year on SyFy channel. Time to lower expectations. It is directed by Sheldon Wilson, who previously directed Mothman, which was better than expected for most of its running time. Will this be one of SyFy's pleasant surprises? Should I have lowered my expectations even more? Or is it so bad it's entertainingly bad?
The film begins with Chad and Marcy running through a cornfield to an abandoned barn. They are there to play a prank on Tyler and Nikki, for revenge for a previous prank played on them, but Marcy is not happy Chad choose this farm. It is rumored that this farm is haunted by a killer scarecrow. The pair go to the barn for a little roll in the hay, but while climbing the ladder, the ladder pulls away from the loft and the pair crash through the floor into a hidden basement. Marcy is cut really bad and would likely have bled out within minutes, except her blood is absorbed by some tree roots in the basement. The roots move away from Marcy and she freaks out. When Eddie tries to see what happened, he's killed by a strange creature.
We then move to the local school. The teacher, Aaron Harris, is taking of group of students on a Saturday detention. They are going to the same farm that we saw in the prologue. Over the next few minutes, we are introduced to the students. There's Calvin, the shy artist; Daevon, the popular jock; Tyler, the bad boy; Nikki, the bad girl; Maria, the first timer; and finally Beth, the new girl. When they get to the farm, Tyler and Nikki try to scare Beth telling her about the legend of the scarecrow. "It never sleeps, it never dies, it canít be stopped, hear their cries. The Scarecrow lives to kill us all. Keep it buried in the fall." They are here, because the farm was the site of the original Scarecrow Festival, but it is being sold. So they are taking the original scarecrow down and moving it to town for the 100th anniversary of the original festival. There is another complication here besides the killer tree root scarecrow we saw in the prologue. The farm belongs to Kristen Miller, who is Aaron's ex-girlfriend. When we first saw him, he was pining for her, so he has clearly not gotten over the breakup. She dumped him to go to the big city, but she's back to see her family's farm, and perhaps to stay, if she and Aaron have a chance of getting back together. However, Aaron took the break up really badly, so he's doesn't want to go through that again. Worse still, Kristen called Eddie, another ex-boyfriend, to help with the job. Eddie and Aaron were best friends, but Kristen dated Eddie before she dated Aaron and that resulted in a falling out between the two.
Fortunately for the viewers, we can't spend any more time on the love triangle at the moment, because Calvin is found strung up on a scarecrow. It was a prank by Tyler and Nikki, but while Aaron yells for Tyler, Beth is grabbed by something. The adults go chasing after Beth while Calvin decides its time to leave. After Kristen finds Beth, but is grabbed as well (and later rescued by Aaron) the rest decide that's a smart plan and head to the farm house. At first Calvin still thinks this might be an elaborate prank by Tyler and Nikki, but after we see Nikki's dying body thrown through the window, they know it's not.
We are only about 20 minutes into the movie, but that's enough of the plot. In fact, the plot is mostly pointless in the movie and is could really be summed up as "There's a monster trying to kill a group of uninteresting characters." We don't get to know enough about the character to care, but the film still decides to pad the running time with characters talking to each other. I think these scenes were meant to be character development, but since almost none of it amounts to anything in the movie, it just wastes time. The CGI "scarecrow"(which is more of a collection of roots than a real scarecrow) isn't bad, but it is also not very scarey. We see too much of it early on and the film is scariest when it is just a force grabbing the people. The acting is better than expected with Lacey Chabert and Robin Dunne doing well as the adult leads. Many of the kids were good in their limited performances, including Brittney Wilson, who was born in Chilliwack, which is the next town over from where I live. (There's also a cameo from Jerry Wasserman, as Farmer Exposition. It's a thankless role, but he's a pro.)
There are no extras on the DVD, there are not even subtitles.
Sadly, Scarecrow is bad in a way that is not entertaining. It's not so bad it's good, it's just boring. The DVD has no extras, so the value is even lower. Even if you are Lacey Chabert in a horror movie, you have better options out there. (In My Sleep, for example, is a better purchase.)
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-02-19