Director: Sheldon Wilson
Writer: Rick Suvalle, Sheldon Wilson
Producer: Jamie Goehring
Stars: Lacey Chabert, Robin Dunne, Nicole Munoz, Brittney Wilson, Carlo Marks
A group of teenagers unwittingly unleashes a 100-year-old family curse in the form of a bloodthirsty killer scarecrow.
Killer scarecrow movies should come around with a frequency no greater than one-tenth that of Halley’s Comet. Once every 7.5 years or so sounds about right. The world of quick and dirty horror movie productions sees things differently, however. Killer scarecrow movies instead pop up at the rate Arby’s franchises multiply in new mini-mall developments. And killer scarecrows are to horror movies what Arby’s is to cuisine. We know better than to indulge in something we will regret later, but we just cannot help ourselves and do it anyway.
Not one to sit idly by and let “Husk,” “Dark Night of the Scarecrow,” three “Dark Harvest” films, and umpteen other cornfield massacre movies thump their sticks against this dead horse of a sub-genre, SyFy pulls out its own bat and joins the party. Unless the plainly titled “Scarecrow” is someone’s first outing with a SyFy Channel creature feature, experience has taught the target audience what to expect (cheesy effects, PG-13 gore), as well as what not to (original plot, acting worth writing home about).
Big city girl Kristen Miller has returned to her Podunk hometown in hopes of reuniting with an old flame, high school teacher Aaron. Complicating things is the appearance of Eddie, another ex-boyfriend whose presence wets the wick of rekindling.
Aaron is busy supervising a Breakfast Club busload of detention-serving teens conveniently including a troublesome couple, awkward outcast, snotty new gal, jock, and virginal good girl. Maria has a quiet crush on Daevon. Calvin likes Beth, but keeps it a secret. Tyler and Nicki cannot keep their hands and lips off each other. As with the adult love triangle, all of these romantic interludes are taken out back and shot in the first act. Half-hearted subplots are proven to be mere time killers when “Scarecrow” turns a corner into pure slasher mayhem.
Centennial celebrations are always ominous anniversaries in horror. The locals here are preparing for their 100th Annual Scarecrow Festival and it is up to the teenagers and their teacher to disassemble the Miller family farm’s scarecrow so it can be used in the festivities. Weirdly, this particular scarecrow is not the menacing creature causing the carnage. The movie’s killer creature is not a Ray Bolger-type in a patchwork pointed hat, but rather a serpentine CGI generation made from tendril-like animated tree branches. There is an inanimate spooky scarecrow on a post, but it exists at the same time as the computerized beastie, so it is not completely clear if they are meant to be the same entity.
Character development abandoned, “Scarecrow” is unburdened from following a plot to focus on tame televised terror featuring running through cornfields, offscreen deaths, and repeated use of the same “dun!” sound effect every time someone comes from behind to inadvertently startle another person. Blood reanimates a dormant creature, cell phones cannot find a signal, vehicles encounter untimely breakdowns, and everyone wears nearly identical and neatly arranged scratch wounds on their faces during ninety minutes of been there done that.
Along with what it puts on the screen, which is not much, “Scarecrow” calls attention to itself with what it does not show. This is the sort of low-budget production that tells its audience how much money it did not have by staging a pivotal car wreck with a cut to black before it hits a tree and by having characters make it to a 100-yard distance before setting off an explosion.
Complaining too much about “Scarecrow” being the movie that it is would be like visiting the aforementioned Arby’s and expressing disappointment in the sandwich. It is intended to be disposable sustenance, not a gourmet experience. Yet even with Lacey Chabert as the seasoned curly fries adding flavor to distract from a mediocre main meal, “Scarecrow” is average at best in the growing pantheon of milquetoast monster movies from SyFy.
Review Score: 45