Directed by Lucy Townsend
Written by Diana Townsend and David Hardie
Starring Alice Maguire, Tom Child,
April Hughes, Martin Challinor, Ben Gilbert, Jessica Sargent, Rowena Diamond, Jake Francis, James Bush, Emily Carding, Richard Warrick
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Rural Britain was made hilariously terrifying back in 2007 with Edgar Wright's notoriously funny Hot Fuzz. With a beautiful juxtaposition of simple village life with high octane action and shamelessly graphic horror, it was a film that succeeded in a risky gamble. Scareycrows, an indie film from director Lucy Townsend, certainly takes its influences from a movie like Hot Fuzz, but also introduces a supernatural element. This further ingredient should have made it even more unlikely for this movie impress, but impress it does with an ingenious combination of low budget horror theatrics, slapstick comedy, and a premise which is as wacky as it is enjoyable.
A yearly tradition in a seaside town turns homicidal when an army of scareycrows start wreaking havoc with the locals. Stemming from a myth about scarecrows being used to fend off French invaders that may or may not have come alive, the town celebrate this story by putting an array of straw-filled dolls outside the various establishments. One group of teenagers gets caught up in the fray (or, ahem...fr-hay) whilst coming to the conclusion that whilst the legends may be true, they may also have played a part in the violence which has erupted.
Told with cheeky comedy and a penchant for gore, Scareycrows achieves that so sought-after balance between horror and jokes that makes this a sharp and charismatic watch. The script does not shy away from the adult themes meaning that there is plenty of swearing and genuine reaction without the usual tepid responses in a story like this, allowing the sense of dread to build as the tension escalates. Brilliantly violent sequences are used to add a shock factor alongside the action and laughter, whilst the mystery surrounding the seemingly terrifying antics that are going on is left largely unexplained, which is a wise choice.
Alice Maguire is a fantastic lead, coping well with her character Amy's romantic scenes equally as well as the frenetic chase scenes later. April Hughes is excellent as Cassie, a spooky weirdo, whose opening scene involving an unfortunate cat is brilliantly delivered. Her later moments as a ghostly presence amongst the town's teenagers adds a phenomenal dimension to the story. Tom Child is good as Ryan, the boyfriend with a secret and Jessica Sargent is also decent as the worrying girlfriend whose partner has gone missing early on in the film. There is a wonderful performance by Martin Challinor as Declan, a hairdresser who steals a lot of scenes. Shout out to two other smaller parts; firstly James Bush as Josh, whose rock star flamboyance deserves a full movie of its own, and Richard Warrick as a community support officer - whose closing of a door is quite possibly one of the funniest things I've seen all year!
Some of the delivery can feel a little wooden or hammy but this at times enhances the farcical nature of the tone. This is then more than made up for in filmmaking which is wholly impressive. The use of music is well chosen and Townsend engages in some really great framing and pacing which capitalises on the thrilling nature of the plot, written by Diana Townsend and David Hardie.
Audiences may find Scareycrows takes a little while to get going, and the initial preamble superfluous, but as a whole the structure of the film works really well. The tidy running time and outrageously thrilling final third make this an incredible achievement for a low-budget British film. It has a charm and boisterous fun about it that is wickedly entertaining.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Scareycrows below...
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