SCARED promo art

(2002, US)

1 and a half stars  

directed by: Keith Walley
starring: Luciano Saber, Kate Norby, Cory Almeida, Raquel Horton, Doug Cole, J. Robin Miller, Paityn James, Brad Lockerman, Kim Ryan, Butch Hammett, Dayna O'Brien, Caitlyn Tyler Cole, Kristina Karford, Tracy Morse

choice dialogue:

“This film could be the Hamlet of Horror Films.”

- er, no.

slash with panache?


[review by JA Kerswell]

  SCARED opens with a pastiche of SCREAM's famous opening scene.

SCARED is at times mesmerisingly awful. It falls at the first hurdle, attempting to pastiche the original SCREAM trio of films. It is rarely funny and is about as scary as an episode of MURDER SHE WROTE (the irony of the film’s title wasn’t lost on me). Actors and crew on a low-budget slasher movie are being bumped off on set by someone dressed as that film’s psycho. It desperately tries to nail the seriocomic tone of Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s initial trilogy but misses the mark at pretty much every turn. Blessed with some good production values and camerawork (it was shot on 35mm) it is otherwise pretty much amateur street in every other aspect. Even worse, it rarely even functions as an entertainingly good bad movie - although it achieves a perhaps first when someone is killed in a toilet stall after having a noisy wank!

Hamlin (Cory Almeida) is the director of the new slasher flick DEATH BLADE. The film’s writer Nick (Luciano Saber) is giving him grief for changing the script. Even worse, the film’s producer Hunter (Doug Cole) tells him there is no more money to finish it after he blows the entire budget on the opening scene. The scene in question attempts to hit the same notes as the opening of SCREAM - only the killer on the phone has a rather camp Southern drawl as opposed to Ghostface’s menacing tone. In a poor effort to show that the filmmakers are trying to one-up Williamson with the post-modern quipping, Hunter blasts Hamlin: “You pitched this movie as the next Scream. The next God damn I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

  A masked killer is on the lose in the fictional film-within-film DEATH BLADE.

Hamlin vows to push on, but on set the next day someone dressed as DEATH BLADE’s masked killer not only murders the actor playing him but also the film’s star Nina (Paityn James). The murders attract both a police investigation and a flurry of interest from the entertainment news networks - not to mention potential investors interested in financing the rest of the movie. Samantha (Kate Norby), who is the director’s ex-girlfriend, is surprised to be offered the late Nina’s role as DEATH BLADE’S Final Girl - but only agrees if her ditzy blond friend Heather (Raquel Horton) is also offered a part.

However, as the production continues more cast and crew end up victims of the mad killer and interest and investment in the movie hit a fever point. Samantha teams up with Nick to try and find out who is behind the mask, but will they solve the mystery before everyone on set dies?

The makers of SCARED are keen to make a comparison with the SCREAM series, but it is hardly a flattering one. Whereas Kevin Williamson’s script sparkled, here it’s as flat as day-old soda. How do you attempt to satirise a satire without appearing like an ever-fading Xerox? Even worse just a rip-off. The cast seems to be shouting all the time and the film has some weird post-dubbing that makes everyone sound like they’ve taken one Xanax too many.

Despite this, SCARED never achieves a level of bad movie-making where it transcends into pure trash entertainment. The narrative lacks cohesion and the tonal shifts are so sudden and jarring that it is difficult to remain engaged. Worse still, the kills are perfunctory with little to no build-up and zero suspense - apart from a climactic chase scene. On the plus side, Raquel Horton was fun as the ditzy Heather and the camerawork showed a certain inventiveness even if the creators of the film flunked on pretty much every other aspect of making a movie. Although, it scores some points for one character telling another to not run away in a straight line as masked killers have terrible peripheral vision! The central conceit of murders plaguing the set of a slasher movie would have been a fun and novel one - had SCREAM 3 and Australian slasher CUT (both 2000) not already done it two years earlier. The film ends in a blooper reel and even that manages to be unfunny.

  SCARED at least features a first: a murder after a noisy wank.

Director Keith Walley was better known for producing higher profile genre fare such as SOCIETY (1989) and BRIDE OF THE REANIMATOR (1990) (a poster for the latter can be seen in one scene). It was perhaps his industry connections that drummed up the money for SCARED to be shot on 35mm. It was produced between 2001 and 2002 and was shot at Sony Studios - which suggests that the makers were aiming for a theatrical release. The poor box office takings for VALENTINE (2001) showed that interest had waned in post-modern slashers. Not to mention it is hard to believe that any major studio or indie distributor would have taken a chance on SCARED once they actually saw it. Although released to other territories under its original title (including the UK on VHS and DVD in 2003), the film was picked up by Charles Band for a Blockbuster video release under the new title CUT THROAT.

The film’s twist ending can be seen a mile away from anyone who has ever seen a SCREAM movie. Having the killer or killers and the survivors all duelling it out wearing the same monster mask and robes was a neat idea, but was so poorly executed that it was difficult to work out what was going on. Whether having the final fight taking place in front of a row of toilets was intentional or not one thing is clear - this film belongs in the crapper.


SCARED is available in some regions to stream via Amazon Prime.


BODYCOUNT  bodycount!   female: 4 / male: 4

1) Female found dead in a bath tub
      2) Male found with his throat cut
      3) Female stabbed in the stomach
      4) Female's body seen
      5) Male stabbed to death with a knife
      6) Female's body seen
      7) Male shot dead
      8) Male stabbed



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