Any of you guys out there watch television “scare” shows? You know the type: someone gets set up (usually by their friends or family) to become immortalized on a TV program, often because said person either always brags about being fearless, or because of their reputation for scaring others. The stage is set, complete with actors and special effects, and the “stooge” is brought in under false pretenses — the cameras roll, and the unwitting participant gets the beejeezus scared out of them by the set up. It’s good fun, some of the time, although it tends to wear on one a bit after repeated viewings. One thing I know that I myself often speculate on is the wonder of what would happen if they were to pick on the wrong person? I mean, say they freak someone out so bad that fight or flight gives way to the former, and the “stooge” brings some beatdown — or worse — to the actors in the set up; what then?
The upcoming Aussie horror flick, Scare Campaign, tackles that very question, while also addressing the modern question of how much is too much when it comes to extreme entertainment.
Scare Campaign has been on for five good seasons now — producer Marcus is very proud of this fact — but his lead actress (and girlfriend/ex-girlfriend…it’s complicated) Emma is concerned about just how far he pushes things. To accentuate this, in their most recent episode, the subject of their pranking presents a serious threat to another actress by producing a firearm on set.
No one is injured, but it makes Emma confront Marcus over the issue, wanting to depart from the production. Impassioned, he convinces her to do one last show to end the season, and she agrees — but then their manager drops a bombshell: in light of a webseries called MASKED FREAKS drawing so many viewers with their horrific, seemingly (and quite possibly actually) real on-camera murders, she tells them they have one last episode to raise the bar on their “scares” and prove their relevance in the face of such competition. Rewriting his script, Marcus sets up one last stooge, Rohan, for a grand season finale at an abandoned mental hospital…but this stooge turns out to have been a former patient, and when the cameras roll and the recorded voices and mechanical “ghostly” movements begin to play out, Rohan reacts in a way that may be great television, but not so great for the actors and crew that want to get out alive…
The concept sounds pretty simple, but I assure you it’s not as much so as it sounds. Cameron and Colin Cairnes script weaves a pretty interesting if not altogether unpredictable tale that provides a pretty high level of satisfaction. I thought I had the plot of the story figured out by the halfway mark — and I did. However, the revelation I had figured was revealed about two minutes past the halfway mark, and the film still held more surprises. OK, as I said, “not altogether unpredictable“, but when you’re like me and the horror flicks you’ve watched number in the four-digit integers, it’s hard for any script to be completely unpredictable.
That said, even though I deduced a lot of the plot points early, the composition of the narrative and the setups still provided an entertaining movie. The performances were spot-on, in every integration of the characters (both as actors, and as they characters they were “pretending” to be), and the special FX pepper in a goodly bit of bloody, gory goodness in the last reel — a couple of pretty inspired kills brought a big smile to my face, and even the less intense bloody bits were well done.
I apologize that I’m not able to be any more detailed — there’s quite a bit of subtext in this flick that, were I to touch upon it, would give far too much away — suffice to say that, as I said, the film provides an entertaining, bloody hour and fifteen minutes or so in front of the screen (long enough to get your attention, short enough to not overwork the concept) — and what more would you want from Halloween viewing?
SCARE CAMPAIGN Is Being Released By Studio71 On iTunes, Amazon, And Google Play TODAY, October 24th.