Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Master P’s Don’t Be Scared.
Don’t Be Scared is a slasher movie and it’s about as “by the numbers” as a movie can be. Julius Curse shows up to a party, talks to a female friend of his, gets into a bit of an argument, and then three frat bros find him outside and beat him to death with a shovel. They act like killing him was an accident, but I’m not sure what they expected when they hit him with a shovel. Three years later the same house is having a Halloween party and some teenagers decide to resurrect him by way of a seance. The story going around is that he was a burglar that was heroically dispatched by aforementioned frat bros. I’m not sure why they aren’t in jail for this, but whatever. The seance works, The Curse is resurrected, and he starts killing people. He does this for a while and then the movie ends. Plot over. This is a slasher movie.
When I picked this up I was expecting this to be a very specific type of movie. Based the DVD cover, the title, and the fact that it was directed by rapper Master P, I figured this would be some kind of a spoof. It looks like it could be a spinoff of the Scary Movie franchise. I figured this would be competently shot, but unfunny and boring. As I sat there watching it though it slowly sank in that they were serious. This was supposed to be scary. This was supposed to resemble an actual movie. Damn, did it miss the mark.
Where do I begin with this heap? Let’s start with the cast: They suck. Every single one of them. The only names worth mentioning are Master P himself and Lil’ Romeo. You guys remember Lil’ Romeo, right? Everyone else is just a cookie-cutter disposable slasher movie protagonist or a horrible person. There’s the three racist frat dudes who we know are also murderers and there’s the one womanizing guy named “D Train.” Those are basically the only characters that have anything close to a personality. I couldn’t tell you a thing about anyone else if I watched the movie eight more times. I’m not even sure if there’s actually a main protagonist, but that has more to do with movie’s broken narrative structure than with the actors.
In broad strokes this is about as “by the numbers” as they come, but it was crafted with a clear lack of understanding of what those numbers mean and how they add up to actual scares. The killer is brought back via an incredibly arbitrary and contrived method. He takes the mask and Halloween costume of one of the characters and follows around trick or treaters for a while, but this goes nowhere. It’s a total missed opportunity which I’ve already seen capitalized on in Terror Train, but here all it accomplishes is wasting the viewer’s time. When the kills start to happen they pop up sort of randomly and they’re generally pretty boring. A lot of this movie just feels like the filmmakers are wasting time and there’s no real narrative spine to the film. Even the way that the killer is dispatched in the end is ridiculously anticlimactic. It was set up earlier but still feels like a dues ex machina.
The pacing is by far the worst part of this extremely awful film. We open with a long credits sequence that shows scenes from inside of a local haunted house. That is followed by a long sequence of people at a party. After the jump ahead to three years there’s yet another long haunted house sequence. We end the movie on people leaving the house in slow motion. It looks as though they used every scrap of footage they had because they weren’t sure if the movie would make it to feature length, and it’s still only 75 minutes long.
On a technical level this flick is a train wreck. There’s no style to the camerawork and the entire movie looks like it was shot over a weekend with whoever was lying around. The music is the best thing about the film, since it actually sounds creepy and of professional quality. The sound mix, however, is abysmal. You can tell they only used the original audio from the set because the volume dips in and out of audibility. There are times where it’s loud and other times it’s nearly impossible to tell what anyone is saying. Given how terrible the dialogue is, that probably isn’t such a bad thing.
Don’t Be Scared is generic, incompetent, and boring. It doesn’t even look like a real film and with a running time of 75 minutes it still manages to drag on forever. The characters are cardboard cutouts, the script is a complete mess and in many ways the movie flat out feels unfinished. Don’t be scared? Don’t worry, I doubt anybody would be.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.