Or, as I like to call it, “Selective Deafness: The Movie”. Even when they establish there’s a killer scarecrow-thing after them, characters seem completely unable to answer someone desperately shouting their name, in some cases jeopardising their own lives. Hey dum-dums! The scarecrow knows where you are anyway! You’re not fooling him by keeping quiet! You’re only doing it because it’s a stupid gimmick to generate suspense!
The ISCFC has a number of projects in various stages of completion. Our trip through the movies of The Asylum is done with forever, thanks to them being scum (and making absolutely terrible movies). We’ve got baseball and wrestling movie threads ongoing. We’ll be returning to ski-based comedies come the wintertime, and our “Endless Bummer” T&A comedy season will be coming back as soon as I can find another good one. But our grand project, the one we’ll never ever finish because there’s too damn many of them, is SyFy Channel original movies. Hats off to them for churning them out, and for occasionally hitting gold (“Dark Haul”, for example, is a genuinely brilliant film with an amazing central performance), and we’ll stick with em as long as they keep doing em.
“Scarecrow” gives us two reasons to celebrate, right at the beginning. First up is the strong cast – ISCFC favourite Robin Dunne is the schoolteacher; his ex-girlfriend and local farm owner is Lacey Chabert, ex of “Party of Five”; and the kids in Dunne’s charge are all solid TV regulars (including Nicole Munoz from SyFy’s “Defiance”). And second is the fantastic scarecrow special effect! Credit where credit’s due, it’s one creepy looking thing, all made from tree roots – give that CGI guy a raise, SyFy.
The plot, unfortunately, isn’t so strong. For school detention, 6 kids get taken on a school bus to a “local” farm (although, too far away for anything like a phone signal) to dismantle a large scarecrow from last year’s local Scarecrow Festival to take to the middle of town, and re-assemble. They’re your average gang – the quiet one, the horny couple, the ticking time bomb (Beth, played by Brittney Wilson, top drawer stuff) – but no sense getting too attached to any of them, if you know what I mean. I mean, they’re all going to get slaughtered! At the same time, a couple who are friends with some of the detention kids go to the farm, and thanks to them falling through the floor of the barn, awake the scarecrow, buried there over a hundred years ago or something. Just putting it in the cellar of your barn seems like a pretty sucky way to do it, but what do I know?
Farm owner Kristen (Chabert) has come back to town to both sell the farm and try and rekindle her relationship with Aaron (Dunne) – but she’s also invited her other ex, Eddie, for reasons completely unknown. I mean, they explained it, but the explanation was so dumb that I immediately forgot it. It’s a fun idea to have the adults be in the cheesy love triangle with the kids around, but this movie isn’t for developing fun ideas – it’s about death!
So the scarecrow stirs, and immediately goes after the humans, although it’s sort of hinted at that he really just wants Kristen, for some sort of family curse reason. Their vehicles are either parked unfortunately (seriously) or their engines won’t start, so they’re stranded, plus there’s a giant ship graveyard nearby. Kudos to whoever found that, because it’s an amazing place to film, even if it makes no sense to have it where it is. Anyway, at one point some of the characters walk all night and still don’t get to any other civilization – how far out of town is this farm?
As well as the previously mentioned selective deafness, which dooms more than one person, they’ve got the “let’s split up” disease. I’ve rarely wanted to reach through the screen and slap a set of characters more – if you have to resort to such cheap tactics to generate suspense, movie, you’re doing something wrong.
It’s very much a film of two halves. All the technical stuff is strong as hell – great locations and special effects. The acting is good too, and the opening scene in the cornfield is a lot of fun. But that writing! I’m far from the smartest movie fan out there, and I could pick holes in this all day. A shame for sure. I’ll leave you with one last scene – they do, at one point, find another local farm and ask the farmer for help. He provides the backstory about the history of the scarecrow, but if you think about it for more than a second…how the hell does he know? And why is he living down the road from a place that has a supernatural scarecrow buried in its cellar? Move, you fool!
Rating: thumbs down