The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Horror might be my favorite genre of film. If done right, a horror film can give me everything I'd want from a great film but just with an added layer of spooky. I'm not going to lie though, horror has a huge amount of worthless material that makes the genre look bad. These include countless ghost movies filled with jump scares, spooky dolls that do nothing in the entire film, and found footage movies that give you whiplash more than scares. But sometimes, just sometimes, you get something truly special. Something that knows the genre's weaknesses and decides to poke fun at them while also creating an interesting horror tale on its own. Scare Me is exactly that movie. Let me tell you why this gem should be seen by any horror fan.
I always get nervous when I see the writer and director are also starring in the movie. Mainly because a triple threat like that can lead to a film that meanders or feels like a vanity piece. Luckily, this is not the case with Scare Me. Writer and director Josh Ruben (formerly College Humor) does a masterful job at balancing all three roles without it feeling like a showpiece for his talents. It probably helps that the premise and the setting of the film are very simple and does a great job of pacing it out in a slow but never boring way. As a first feature film, I think Ruben is a talent to watch out for in all three of his roles. Great work!
I love the premise of this movie. Two strangers, during a power outage, try to scare each other with spooky stories while also criticizing and making fun of the horror genre. One's a successful writer (Cash) and the other is not (Ruben) which is where a lot of the making fun comes from. It's almost like an anthology horror movie, but the wrap-around story is always at the forefront. There are no scene transitions to the stories. Each actor acts the story out for one another and it's honestly super fun and impressive to watch both Josh Ruben and Aya Cash perform. My only problem with the story is the ending. While it did build up rather nicely to its conclusion, I still felt it was very unneeded for this type of comedy/horror story. Also, about an hour into the movie, a new character is introduced who I personally liked but it added a new element to the plot that I didn't like as much as what we already had before.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
A movie focusing on two characters telling scary stories really banks on its actors nailing their roles, and this is a perfect example of stellar acting and realistic, fun characters making a great premise even better! Both Josh Ruben and Aya Cash are the major highlights here as they play off of each other effortlessly. Watching both of them telling stories and acting them out might be some of the most fun I've had watching a movie all year. While these two are great, I do have to give major credit to Chris Redd (who was hilarious in Popstar), who's a late second act addition to the cast who adds a little more energy to the movie. While I didn't like the movie as much as I did before his appearance, that didn't have to do with his performance which was hilarious and charming.
This Gem Should Be Seen By Any Horror Fan
SCARE ME (2020)
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
To create the best atmosphere for the storytelling, the movie has a very subtle score. It's perfect for a movie that's pretty much a selection of campfire tales that the actors physically get more and more into. The music does get more thunderous as the stories pick up, but what really sells these stories besides the acting is the sound design. A nice variety of horror movie sounds like slashes, cuts, screams, and all kinds are used during the stories that I thought were perfectly done and really added to the performances of the cast. This is one of the few times I reviewed something where I thought the sound design was the highlight of this section. Great work!
Scare Me is the type of horror/comedy we need more of. One that is fun, smart, and knows how to criticize and poke fun at the genre it's a part of while also showing a true love for it as well. Josh Ruben has created a terrific little movie that is charming as heck, smartly written, and superbly acted by a game cast. I can't wait to see more from Ruben, Cash, and Redd in the future.
SCARE ME - Streaming On SHUDDER
Most of the movie takes place in one cabin's living room where the two characters exchange stories. So the movie doesn't have a ton in regards to effects, but the movie does have brief moments where the imagination of one of the characters will visualize the story in fun ways. You'll see some fun shadow play to emphasize the creepiness and brief shots of creatures that inhabit the tales. Limited, but very well done.