11th May2014

‘Scarecrow’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robin Dunne, Lacey Chabert, Richard Harmon, Brittney Wilson, Nicole Muñoz, Kevin O’Grady, Julia Maxwell, Reilly Dolman, Iain Belcher, Jerry Wasserman, Lanie McAuley | Written by Rick Suvalle | Directed by Sheldon Wilson

Scarecrow

I’ll admit I have a soft spot for the scarecrow film. Ever since I was terrified by a TV screening of Dark Night of the Scarecrow back in the 80s, I’ve seen just about every scarecrow-related film going – even those that should probably have never seen the light of day! So of course I HAD to see Scarecrow. Even moreso given that it’s (yet another) Canadian genre film and it stars Robin Dunne, an actor whose career I’ve followed ever since I saw him in Cruel Intentions 2 (yes, I liked that film – even more than the original).

The film sees school teacher Aaron Harris (Dunne) doling out punishment to six students serving detention, including the moody Tyler, Goth girl Nikki, wrestling team captain Daevon, and straight-A student Maria. Their task: help their friend Kristen’s family farm with some grunt work before it is sold. But the cornfields circling the farm come with a legend and Tyler takes macabre delight in recounting the tale: It never sleeps, it never dies, it can t be stopped, hear their cries. The Scarecrow lives to kill us all. Keep it buried in the fall.

When the kids play a terrifying game of cat and mouse in the cornfield with what they believe is a wild animal, Kristen tries to convince them that the Scarecrow is a very real creature of fierce strength and power, rejuvenated by the blood of its prey and proof comes all too soon. As darkness falls over the rustling fields, the last survivors must fend off the flesh-ripping terrors of the Scarecrow. A scarecrow unlike any you’ve ever seen before…

A fantastic creation of CGI (yes, I’m praising the use of CG imagery for once), the titular scarecrow of this film is like a living organism, made up of the very roots of the field from which it is spawned, feeding on blood to gain strength and power. Visually the design looks very striking, making this films scarecrow feel much more malevolent and unstoppable than those that have come before – which really helps differentiate Scarecrow from others of its ilk.

Apart from the two experienced leads – Robin Dunne and Lacey Chabert – the mostly teen cast are pretty forgettable and ultimately interchangeable. Although Brittney Wilson puts in a pretty good performance as the bitchy Beth, who’s more than willing to sacrifice the entire cast to (try and) save herself from the clutches of the evil scarecrow.

Surprisingly, given that the film originated as a TV movie for the America arm of the Syfy channel, Scarecrow is actually pretty gory, characters are mangled by the sharp-fingered scarecrow left, right and centre, and someone is even fed into a giant combine harvester – although it’s a shame the beheading at the very beginning of the film cuts away just as its about to get *really* gory! Although I’m sure the film probably pushed the boundaries of what can and can’t be seen on mainstream US television.

Scarecrow isn’t going to set the horror world alight, but as an example of the small “killer scarecrow” sub-genre this is up there with the best. The film is out now on DVD from Three Wolves.

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