If you’re a fan of Aya Cash’s turn as a dark character on You’re The Worst, that’s a big plus in Scare Me. She stars as Fanny, a successful horror novelist holed up with a frustrated wannabe screenwriter, Fred, the film’s writer-director Josh Ruben. Both have come to rented mountain cabins to write. Hers is bigger. When a power outage derails solitary plans, they converge to tell each other scary stories by a flickering fireplace, eventually getting a fun assist from Chris Redd as a pizza delivery guy.
It’s an interesting set-up for a single-location horror dramedy-thriller, stage play or a creepy Halloween improv show. The performances, quick cuts, music cues and sound effects enhance the telling.
As act one unfolds, Fred’s first effort is energetic with a nice creepy touch or two, even if his werewolf ideas are a little clichéd. Fanny’s acerbic questioning adds spice. When it’s Fanny’s turn, she proves her nuanced creative talents as she acts out a darker psychological tale with creepy accents, grim deeds and a building dread. Soon they’re telling and acting out shared tales with occasional story conferences to hone details.
The more elaborate pieces bolster the energy and counter the claustrophobic setting. The film is surprisingly engaging, and there’s a dark character story underpinning it all with a few creepy surprises.
Reuben’s performance and his versatility match Cash’s, and both get great mileage out of expressions and close-ups. Oh, Cash sings too. Briefly.
If there’s a fault it’s that Cash’s character could have used just a tad more dimension for the flick to realize its full rewards. There are hints, but an additional layered brush stroke here or there would have done it. Still, it’s a worthy October diversion that’ll pass a shut-in evening.
Wicked Rating: 7/10
Director: Josh Ruben
Writer: Josh Ruben
Starring: Aya Cash, Josh Ruben Chris Redd, Rebecca Drysdale
Release: October 1, 2020 (Shudder)
Runtime: 103 minutes