CHATTANOOGA FILM FEST 2020: Scare Package

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Scare Package

Scare Package, a horror anthology film, screened at the Chattanooga Film Dest over the weekend. In the film, Chad, the owner of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium, recounts a series of bone-chilling, blood-splattered tales to illustrate the rules of the horror genre to his newest employee. Each story takes aim at different tropes, paying homage to and subverting the timeless clichés of the beloved genre.

Scare Package is a meta love letter to horror. In the “Cold Open,” or rather, the first vignette directed by Emily Hagins, we see a man with the job of a “cold opener,” an employee who sets up horror movies by flipping the sign on a road to lure road trippers down the wrong path, plant some satanic objects in an attic, and the like.  This vignette sets the tone for the anthology and it travels through the next segments: “One Time in the Woods,” directed by Chris McInroy, “M.I.S.T.E.R.” directed by Noah Segan, “Girls’ Night Out Of Body” which is co-directed by Hillary Andujar and Courtney Andujar, “So Much To Do” from Baron Vaughn, and “The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill” directed by Anthony Cousins.

Each of these vignettes plays with horror tropes by subverting them, exploiting them, or embracing them altogether. From the wrap-around “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” and “Horror Hypothesis,” directed by Aaron B. Koontz, to the vignettes themselves, Scar Package is filled to the brim with classic horror call-backs and more. Yet, none of these elements feel forced or over the top. Instead, it feels like each director is speaking directly to horror fans, like nodding at them in a crowd. But beyond the horror lovefest, Scar Package is ridiculously packed with spurting blood, exploding bodies, a melting gooey man, and just about every kind of gruesome practical effect you can imagine – and some you probably haven’t.

Scare Package

Each and every one of the vignettes in this anthology fit together into the larger work and stand up on their own merits. It’s simple to say that they all take meta horror to the max, but “Cold Open” stands out among the rest by taking it to the next level. It’s humor and surprise provide a unique meta experience that showcases a smart imagining of horror movies and avoids being compared to other meta horrors like Cabin in the Woods – which can’t be said for the final vignette “Horror Hypothesis.”

With all of the greatness in each section of the film, there is one major fault – the racialized jokes from Chad to his new employee Han. Hearing a grown man call another man “Pikachu” and “little panda bear” was beyond cringey and pushed into the territory of how white men infantilize and emasculate Asian men in cinema. It’s frustrating because Koontz’s work on the wrap-around is stellar, but for me, this just breaks those sections. It’s frustrating and relying on racialized jokes in a film where the horror tropes are plenty is lazy. In fact, there is a moment where a racial joke is almost made but is done so to showcase horror’s racialized tropes. That is how it’s done well. Calling an Asian man “Pikachu” is not. Additionally, the appearance of a “horror icon” in the last vignette is out of place and doesn’t fit with the way commentary and parody were used throughout the rest of the film.

Despite the stumbles, Scare Package is a killer anthology. Its b-horror gore effects are out of this world and the way each director’s part fits into a larger whole is what anthologies are all about. But truly, it’s the execution of the wrap-around that secures this love letter to horror as a must-watch when it hits streaming next month.

Scare Package debuts exclusively on Shudder June 18, 2020.


Scare Package
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Despite the stumbles, Scare Package is a killer anthology. Its b-horror gore effects are out of this world and the way each director’s part fits into a larger whole is what anthologies are all about. But truly, it’s the execution of the wrap-around that secures this love letter to horror as a must-watch when it hits streaming next month.