Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeremy King, Noah Segan, Toni Trucks, Chase Williamson, Baron Vaughn, Zoe Graham, Byron Brown, Chelsey Grant, Luxy Banner, Josephine McAdam, Aaron D. Alexander, Allan McLeod, Jocelyn DeBoer, Melanie Minichino, Johnathan Fernandez, Dustin Rhodes, Haley Alea Erickson, Jon Michael Simpson, Mac Blake, Hawn Tran, Frank Garcia-Hejl, Justin Maina, Gabrielle Maiden, Les Best, Holt Boggs, Spencer Greenwood, Atsuko Okatsuka, Kelsey Pribilski, Tristan Riggs, Peggy Schott, Candice Thompson, Brian Villalobos, Andre Williams
Written by: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Cameron Burns, Anthony Cousins, Ben Fee, Frank Garcia-Hejl, Emily Hagins, John Karsko, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn
Directed by: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 108
Date: 06/19/2020

Scare Package (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

So Much the Meta

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dropping on June 19, 2020 on Shudder , the anthology horror film Scare Package pays homage, like so many other recent movies, to horror of the 1980s. But this time, rather than thinking of Craven, Raimi, and Carpenter, the movie wants to recall those special fun bad movies that we all rented back in those days, things like Night of the Demons and Monster Dog . This approach sometimes hurts the movie, as it plays around with over-the-top gore effects and deliberately bad performances, but it nonetheless has a charm, especially for folks that carry a nostalgia for that time and those movies.

The wraparound segment, "Rad Chad's Horror Emporium," directed by Aaron B. Koontz, is actually pretty fun. It's set in a large, mostly deserted video store run by fast-talking "Rad Chad" (Jeremy King). His only customer, horror nerd Sam (Byron Brown), is constantly trying to get Chad to give him a job, and is nonplussed when Chad instead hires Hawn (Hawn Tran). The trio hang around the store, talking and arguing about movies, with the rule that a movie must always be playing. Thus we get our other titles.

First up is "Cold Open," directed by Emily Hagins. In it, a minor horror movie character who is stuck with dumb, unappreciated jobs, hopes to someday be something more... perhaps even a hero. So he pushes his way into a typical movie scene — two teen girls babysitting on Halloween night — and things take an unexpected turn. I wish this one had laid out its "meta" rules a little more clearly, and perhaps toned down the acting a bit. (It tries a bit too hard to be funny.)

"One Time in the Woods," directed by Chris McInroy, begins with a group of campers who are approached by a frantic man claiming that he will soon "change." He does begin to change, and one of the campers slaps silver handcuffs on him, stopping him, mid-change. So, he's now just a pile of blood and guts with eyes and teeth. This one may make you laugh just in the way it keeps getting stupider and more disgusting, but with a kind of bonkers energy.

Next up is "M.I.S.T.E.R.", and the directing debut of Noah Segan, best known for his roles in Rian Johnson's films, especially his hilarious turn in Knives Out . (He also co-wrote.) Segan plays what appears to be a henpecked husband who stumbles upon a meeting of men complaining about their own withered masculinity. Of course, there's a fun, monstrous twist.

In the video store, Hawn finds a shelf labeled "post-modern feminist slasher body horror," which has only one title on it. That is Courtney and Hillary Andujar's "Girls' Night Out Of Body," about three women who head out for a night of partying in a hotel room, but one of them has stolen a demonic sucker from a convenience store (which was labeled "Not for Sale"). They must try it, of course, and the results are surprising, with some nifty makeup effects. The directors are twins that have worked as artists and production designers on some well-known movies, and their segment is the best-looking out of the bunch.

Anthony Cousins's "The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill" is another highlight, taking on the old slasher film tropes, such as that anyone who has sex gets killed. In this one, the unkillable killer is strapped down and the heroic, typed teens are attempting to end his reign of terror forever, but of course, nothing works. And the side effects of their attempts are even funnier.

Baron Vaughn's "So Much to Do" is another one that needed a little clarification on its rules. A man is captured by some cloaked figures, branded with a symbol on his forehead, and buried. He emerges as smoke and takes over the body of Franchesca (Toni Trucks), and starts watching his favorite show at her house. But Franchesca doesn't like spoilers and re-emerges to kick some behind. I guess this one is an attempt to poke fun at those who like to ruin shows and movies. It's a little unfocused, but Trucks is great.

Finally, things come around again to Rad Chad, and his story unexpectedly morphs into "Horror Hypothesis," directed once again by Koontz. This segment, the longest, is another meta attempt to unpack the slasher movie (much like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and The Cabin in the Woods ), with Rad Chad providing commentary and trying to fit all the pieces together, i.e. who is the "final girl," etc. It's not exactly brilliant, but it's consistently amusing thanks to its incredible gore effects, a fun cameo, and an ending that borrows from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter . Otherwise, there are quick references to Re-Animator and Hellraiser , and the electronic score — like so many other movies — pays homage to John Carpenter.

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