Scared (2002)

Scared (2002)

Shhh… don’t scream.

A group of young filmmakers start shooting their first independent slasher film but soon find out that life is imitating art a little too much when cast and crew start to turn up dead on set. Someone is taking their love of slasher films a little too far.

 

Coming a couple of years after Scream 2 and Scream 3 had already done the ‘slasher film within a slasher film’ lark and done it fairly well, Scared is left picking up whatever pieces are left to try and assemble together some form of original teen horror…and fails badly. The alternate title, Cut Throat, seems to have been more of a suggestion to the audience than an exercise in renaming.

Scared features a whole batch of ideas which have just been rehashed and rehashed and rehashed and rehashed….you get the idea. When one of the characters says that their film, Death Blade, “is the next Scream” then you know where all of the inspiration for this comes from. It even references I Know What You Did Last Summer just to be on the safe side and cover all of the big hitting 90s slasher bases.

The film-within-a-film plot is beginning to grind on me a little as it just gives writers an excuse to throw in a load of false scares or smarmy dialogue to prove that they’ve seen their fair share of horror films. You know what is going to happen: there’s going to be plenty of “is it the film we’re watching or is it the film they’re watching?” moments thrown around as red herrings. Someone dies – oh wait that’s just the character they’re playing in the film-within-a-film. Someone dies – oh wait now that’s actually them dead for real. Rinse and repeat. Having to second guess takes the fun out of the film. Why do you want to emotionally invest in characters that are so happy pretending to kill each other?

There is a load of unsympathetic characters that we’re meant to root for and cheer on when the killer is around. However you’d be hard-pressed to like anyone here, least of all the really annoying blonde chick (who, speaking of which, is supposed to bare all in films like this – oh wait that was the 80s – even dumb chicks have more sense than to take their clothes off nowadays). You won’t recognise anyone starring in this and you’ll instantly forget everyone starring in this too. Some acting isn’t too bad but on the most, it is like the first day at drama class.

The slash side of proceedings is pretty bog standard too. We get some routine half-lit stalk scenes which lack any sense of tension or suspense. Most of the kill scenes take place off-screen anyway so we’re robbed of any truly decent make-up effects or gory set pieces. At least the killer wears a decent scarecrow mask, just like the getup from ‘Death Blade’ – but at no point does anyone suspect that the killer might be linked to the film by virtue of his costume.

There is one scene where the script does at least show some cleverness and this is when the director, producer and writer are having their little talk early on about one of the scenes they’re filming. But the script never manages to make this a regular thing and the rest of the dialogue is as inept as the delivery. Its kind of funny watching these no-named actors really going for gold in their performances when I’m sure all of about a dozen people have ever had the misfortune of watching Scared. Going from the number of external reviews and user comments on IMDB, I’m in the small minority of unfortunates.

Just to add salt to the wound, the script tacks on a contrite but obligatory twist finale when the killer is revealed, despite making a lot of other previous stuff absolutely meaningless in the process. The number of possible suspects that the killer could be gradually dwindles down throughout the film anyway. If you’re going to kill off most of the cast before the finale, why bother keeping everything so secret?

 

There’s nothing in Scared that you won’t have seen done better in any of the Scream films. It’s just your usual dumb teen horror which thinks it’s a cut above the rest by being clever and using the film-within-a-film plot to no effect. Devoid of scares, decent kills or suspense and atmosphere, you really do wonder why some people bother to invest their own time into making something so ordinarily pointless.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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