Scare Package, available to stream on Shudder, is a multi-director horror-comedy anthology which sets out to subvert nearly all of the recognisable cliches in a meta(meta) way. Whilst there are some sequences and gags that hit the mark the jokes are stretched too far and, for this viewer, ultimately break, turning the watching experience from an initial enjoyment into a slog.
As I have said in a previous review, I believe that anthologies can be highly dependant on their framing device and in this case, the device is a really annoyingly goofy and unfunny video store (Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium) run by the eponymous Chad where he is ‘assisted’ by his new employee Hawn alongside regular (and only) customer Sam. If you’ve seen any anthologies at all you’ll know how this framing works. Needless to say there’s some shoehorning involved to facilitate the other segments within the story.
There are a total of 7 segments to this anthology, plus the framing device – let’s look at each one in order of my enjoyment:
Directed by Emily Hagins
As the title suggests, this segment kicks things off from the first frame, and it’s an entertaining, witty and inventive short. It sets things up and lets you know where you are – this is not a serious horror movie, and we are in meta(meta) territory. I enjoyed this, and thought that I was in for a treat for the rest of the movie. I was sadly mistaken.
One Time in the Woods
Directed by Chris McInroy
This is an over-the-top ‘killer meets creature’ segment that is heavy on the icky and threatens to outstay its welcome, but just about manages to wrap things up before you get sick of it. A fun few minutes.
The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill
Directed by Anthony Cousins
The title of this short kinda tells you what you need to know – this riffs on the ‘why won’t the evil killer just die’ trope and has some inventive death scenes, but for me it doesn’t really bring anything new to the parody / meta(meta) table and ultimately ends up just repeating the cliches over and over. I realise this is kind-of the point, but I got bored, which for a short film is not a good sign!
So Much To Do
Directed by Baron Vaughn
A fairly dull interpretation of the ‘internal struggle after possession’ subgenre. Whilst watching it I just kept thinking ‘why is this here?’ and really detesting the fight scene and the ‘I hate spoilers’ sub-plot.
Girls’ Night Out Of Body
‘Don’t do the thing that the sign tells you not to do, or bad things will happen’. Again, I realise the cliches are deliberate, but you have to do something inventive, new, interesting. This was just annoying – a word I have used already, and will almost definitely use again.
Directed by Noah Segan
At the end of this short I was just left with one feeling – and this can be summed up as ‘huh?’. There’s a twist, but I’m not convinced it’s a good one.
Directed by Aaron B. Koontz
This is the final wrap-up segment, which involves the characters from (and has same director as) the framing story in an overlong, overstretched parody that can best be described as ‘Scream meets Cabin in the Woods’. There’s something in that premise, but this segment just goes on FOREVER and doesn’t just pick two or three of the cliches to work with, it tries (with varying degrees of success) to hit every single one you can think of. I have watched this segment twice now – once within the whole movie and again a few days later as a standalone, and I still think the same – it’s too long, too forced and really stretches the meta(meta) beyond breaking point. I realise I am repeating myself here, but that’s what this movie does with the horror cliches, with rapidly diminishing results.
There are some high points in this film that are worthy of being mentioned – the gore in Horror Hypothesis is quite impressive, as is the Carpenter-ish synth score. Jon Michael Simpson, who turns up as Mike Myers (not that one and yes, that’s the joke) plays his part well and there’s also some good effects in One Time In The Woods.
Overall though this is a really disappointing movie – it starts out well, quickly gets into dull territory and then descends into being really annoying. It’s like being at a football match where your team takes the lead in the first 5 minutes, then try to hold on to that lead for the rest of the game only to concede a couple of goals in the second half – you leave with a faint memory of being happy at one point, but with an overwhelming sadness and ennui. Scare Package only merits a 4 on the Skelpometer.