Scare Us is the latest instalment to the sub-genre of horror anthologies, which introduces us to six horror directors over five short gruesome stories.
Horror anthologies are always hit or miss. Sometimes there’s so much to love about them and you’re left wanting more from a certain director. Take the original V/H/S, for example. The opening segment from V/H/S, Amateur Night, eventually got a full feature adapted from one tiny short story. These kind of anthologies often require some kind of consistency throughout, but they sometimes don’t hit the mark and they drift between good and not so good. Scare Us is the type of horror anthology which has some very strong points, such as the layout of the narrative and the uniqueness of different sub-genres of horror within each of the characters stories. But, because not every story is compelling, the whole film loses its genuine horror value.
Scare Us is a horror anthology directed by six different directors (Charlotte Lilt, Carl Jensen IV, Ryan Henry Johnston, Ryan Kjolberg, Tom J. McCoy and Jordan Pillar). After the initial Scare Us title card we’re introduced to a group of writers in the back of a bookshop. They live in the small town of Sugarton where there is a killer on the loose. The assigned writing task for this session was for each member of the group to write a personal story that scares them. A very convenient subject matter considering what’s going on in the town in real life. In turn, they all go around and read out their terrifying tales. Each of the stories are short, but definitely not sweet.
Naomi’s (Michelle Palermo) story, Night Haul, is first and is based around the idea of her feeling trapped. What’s interesting about each of the stories is that the main character in everyone’s short story is themselves. Naomi plays a character who’s just found out her husband has cheated on her so she is on the way to her self storage box to collect her things. The self storage unit is closing shortly so she only has a short while to get what she needs before the lights go out. However, the darkness is the least of her worries as something sinister is just around the corner.
Night Haul is effective in making the audience fear and is definitely one of the stronger stories in the film. Although, it would have been nice for a more in-depth introduction to Naomi’s character as I don’t feel any empathy towards her in real life or when she plays her role in her story.
Untethered is the second story and it is told by Mikey (Ethan Drew), a teenage boy whose father is a sheriff and is investigating the murders in Sugarton. Mikey’s story focuses in on his trauma from living with a father who investigates murder cases – exactly like in real life. In his tale, he stumbles across a box of graphic images that his dad has laying around the house from previous murder cases. His curiosity always gets the better of him and he always wants to see more even though he is traumatised by it. Mikey’s constantly plagued by gruesome thoughts and it is driving him crazy. These images make their way into his dreams, but he believes that something is haunting his family right inside their home.
Untethered is by far the most unsettling story, as we can clearly see that Mikey is drawing the inspiration directly from issues that are going on at home.
The third story is told by Diego (Michael C. Alvarez). Dead Ringer features a hitchhiker whose journey to his destination goes horribly wrong. Dead Ringer feels incredibly tense at times, especially with a terrifying soundtrack in the background. But, it’s way too short and predictable. There isn’t a sense of mystery of what will happen – it seems inevitable. If this story was 10 minutes longer, I could definitely see it being a strong standalone short film.
The Resting is Claire’s (Charlotte Lilt) story, based around family legacy. The Resting, again, is another very cliche story. The build up of Claire’s character moving into a home where her mother died is functional and it sets the scene well. As the story goes on, the ending is pretty much already predetermined. I do enjoy films where a mysterious neighbour tries to make friends with the new residents of the house, it’s just all too familiar.
The last story is Peter’s (Tom Sandoval) story. Peter is the owner of the bookshop and the leader of the writing group. He believes that he has saved the best for last. His story, After Hours, unsettles the entire group to the point they all run away out of the back of the bookshop. Peter begins to tell a story of a familiar case that they all are aware of, about a killer who previously taunted the town of Sugarton. With their currently being a killer on the lose in their town again, they are all unbelievably spooked by Peter’s story as it feels all too real.
If you’re one to sit through horror anthologies like The ABCs of Death, Scare Package (a personal favourite) and the V/H/S series, then Scare Us is one to add to your watchlist. It is unique and does mix various sub-genres of horror into each story. However, if you don’t particularly enjoy horrors or haven’t seen any of the anthologies listed, then I wouldn’t recommend it. Some of the stories are definitely very creepy, but as said before, you need the entire narrative to work or it doesn’t feel cohesive enough. It should be consistently good and not have ups and downs. Only some of the characters are likeable too, and, for an anthology to work, you need to at least feel some sort of empathy for them or you find yourself not caring about their fate.
Scare Us will be released on digital in the UK on June 13, 2022. The film is now available to watch in the US.
Don’t miss our monthly updates with film news and exclusive content! You’ll only hear from us once a month. #nospam