PLOT: Two writers stuck in a cabin during a power outage pass the time by telling each other scary stories.
Scare Me is such a unique experience. On the one hand, it’s not particularly scary, but that’s not exactly the point. However, the accomplishment of creating an engaging story together while it is essentially two, sometimes three, people trying to entertain each other is impressive. In the television realm, this would be called a ‘bottle episode’, and what Scare Me is able to do within the same four walls for 90 minutes is more than what a lot of the movies I’ll watch this month can do, in terms of storytelling.
The film starts with Fred, an aspiring writer heading to a cabin to spend a distraction-free weekend with his creative thoughts. His plans change when a storm knocks out the power and his neighbor, Fanny, a successful writer, invites herself over to weather the storm together. The two of them, at the behest of Fanny, spend the rest of the night trying to top each other by telling scary stories.
I identify so much with Fred, and frankly, it’s more than I wish I did. Fred, by his own account, has a steady, if not completely creatively-satisfying job in an advertising agency. He wants more, maybe even thinks he deserves more, but doesn’t do what is necessary to get more. He’s self-destructive when he’s not complacent and when faced with a strong woman, younger than he is and more successful, he is resentful, bordering on violent. He thinks Fanny has had everything handed to her, but to our knowledge, she’s the only one of the two that has ever even finished a story.
We never see Fred put a word to a page, not even scribbling in a notebook the way we see Fanny do throughout the film. Even in the stories he tells, Fred is unremarkable; he relies on tropes he’s seen in films that are better than anything he could ever hope to write. Fred is waiting for the world to meet him half-way, not even realizing that his own failures and shortcomings are self-inflicted.
Scare Me is not your typical horror film, but it is an extraordinary love letter to the horror stories we love, while also commenting on the writing process, gender politics, and coming to grips with personal responsibility. It is wonderfully performed by its leads Aya Cash and star/writer/director Josh Ruben, and while most of the film is hard to call a horror film, the end does reach a terrifying climax.
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10