| February 24, 2014

There’s a fine line between science fiction and horror, and Scarecrow falls squarely in the horror column, which would be fine except this is a production of the Syfy channel. I don’t understand how Sci-fi and horror have become the same in some people’s eyes.  There are definitely a lot of crossovers between the genres (Terminator, Alien), but it’s important to understand that they are separate most of the time.  When your killer is a supernaturally animated Scarecrow that mindlessly kills high school kids, you have yourself a horror movie.

This inability to differentiate between horror and sci-fi is why I find it impossible to go to the Sci-fi spectacular (a 14 hours movie marathon) in Chicago anymore.  It’s a group of guys who like to show horror movies and call them science fiction.  But I digress.

All of my reviews of Syfy original movies are starting to sound exactly the same as they all have the same horrible things in common.  Fortunately, Scarecrow doesn’t fall into the same traps as the rest of Syfy’s body of work.  We aren’t subjected to painstaking exposition explaining how the Scarecrow has come to life.  Unfortunately, this film does have about the same level of acting and directing talent as any other Syfy original.  Our leads, Aaron and Kristen (Robin Dunne and Lacey Chabert respectively), have taken a bus load of high schoolers in detention to work on a farm for the day.  Aaron and Kristen have a history because he and his former best friend were both in love with her and it tore their friendship apart.  So, in addition to fighting off a scarecrow monster, they also have to battle the bitter sexual tension bubbling up inside of them.  This is actually one of the more interesting aspects of the film.

The high school student characters are all painfully interchangeable; to the point where I couldn’t tell the difference between the three slender brunette girls at any given point in the movie.  The male students all conveniently fit into their Breakfast Club archetypes as the movie seems to beg you not to care about any of them.  I will give the movie credit for being fearless in its killing off of these kids.  There may not be anyone to root for in this movie, but it’s fun to watch all of these vapid, worthless people get picked off.

Actually, the movie is pretty effective as a horror film.  I liked the look of the scarecrow monster and found it to be pretty creepy.  Although, its size was really inconsistent throughout the film.  Sometimes it would be the size of a person, other time sit would be 10 feet tall.  Also, the rules surrounding the scarecrow were really muddy and hackneyed.  For example, they keep saying that they need to bury the scarecrow because according to legend that’s how it was stopped hundreds of years ago.  That would be fine, except one time it attacks from underground.  Little things like that do a lot to take me out of a film like this.  It’s too inconsistent and confusing to ignore.

Available on DVD from Sonar Entertainment on February 25.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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