31 Screams in October, Vol. 3, #8: Scarecrow (2013)

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Movie Review
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8. Scarecrow (2013)

Director: Sheldon Wilson

Starring: Lacey Chabert, Robin Dunne

Generally speaking, I’ve learned to steer clear of most movies made for the Syfy channel. They tend to all be the same cheap, badly-acted, badly-written nonsense that you’re more likely to laugh at than anything else. Some are made this way on purpose… which is okay, I guess. This one doesn’t seem to have been made with those intentions. What, then, is the draw for a movie like 2013’s “Scarecrow”? Maybe jump scares are your kind of thing. Maybe unkillable monsters do it for you. Perhaps you’re a Lacey Chabert fan. Whatever it is, the appeal of “Scarecrow” has little to do with its plot or the characters which populate it.

After a quick opening scene where a couple of idiot teenagers accidentally unleash something horrible from underneath a barn, we are introduced to the main cast of characters. Here we are witness to one of the more unorthodox methods of detention I’ve ever seen. Teacher Aaron Harris (Robin Dunne) takes six delinquents by school bus out to a cornfield. Evidently, their punishment is to collect the scarecrow and bring it with them to the town’s Scarecrow festival.

It’s then that it dawns on you that this movie isn’t even bothering with simple, helpful details such as the actual name of the town. The reason for the festival, however, is made clear. It seems that the town suffered many deaths a century ago, resulting in a legend being passed on through the years, and even a nifty rhyme to go with it: “It never sleeps, it never dies, it can’t be stopped, hear their cries. The Scarecrow lives to kill us all. Keep it buried in the fall…” Catchy, huh?

The kids in detention are all just cannon fodder. The real human story here is a love triangle that exists between Aaron, former best friend Eddie, and the woman who drove them apart, Kristen Miller (Lacey Chabert). The farm where most of the movie takes place belongs to the Miller family, although Kristen is in the process of selling the property. A deal which likely will fall through after the events of this movie. We’ve just barely been introduced to Kristen by the time the Scarecrow shows up and starts attacking people. Gradually, the group catches on to the idea that the creature is deliberately seeking out Kristen, only attacking others when they impede its progress. Conversation with an old man reveals why: It was Kristen’s ancestors who originally defeated the creature, burying it underneath the barn.

There is one instance of a radical personality transformation. This happens with the character of Beth, who starts off as a likable, virginal character before undergoing what must be a complete psychotic breakdown, after which she becomes convinced that the only way to save her own skin (perhaps literally) is to feed Kristen to the Scarecrow. Naturally, no one in the group is on board with this, except perhaps for Kristen herself. If it really is her the monster wants, Kristen is the type who doesn’t want other people dying for her. If wishes were horses, Kristen, you wouldn’t be the main character in a horror movie!

Everyone, including Eddie and eventually even Aaron, falls victim to the Scarecrow until Kristen is all alone. After having tried several methods of killing the creature only to see it return and kill her friends, Kristen leads the Scarecrow onto a boat. Remembering the rhyme, Kristen destroys the boat (escaping at the last possible instant for dramatic effect!), thus “burying” the Scarecrow at sea. This would seem a more or less natural conclusion unless you start to consider the fact that, several times during the course of the film, the Scarecrow can be seen coming up through the ground. Kinda defeats the purpose of burying it when it can pull that stunt!

“Scarecrow” is, like most made-for-Syfy films, a turn-your-brain-off movie. As such, it ends up as one of the better ones they’ve produced (not that that’s saying much). I like bloody horror movies, nonsensical plots don’t necessarily bother me, the running time is perfect… and, yeah, I am fond of Lacey Chabert. I also like the not-so-subtle references to other horror movies, such as “Night of the Living Dead” or “Jeepers Creepers 2.” But even I’ll admit that the bad CGI on the Scarecrow diminishes its ability to promote fear. So, “Scarecrow” is a mixed-bag. But it’s okay. Not great, not bad, but okay. Worthy of a watch, and a welcome departure from all of Syfy’s dumbass shark/giant insect movies.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    Something a little different anyway, right? Good with popcorn and friends just for fun, especially in October!

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