Review by Sean Boelman
Envisioned by Aaron B. Koontz and Cameron Burns (Camera Obscura), the new anthology horror-comedy Scare Package is the ultimate send-up to midnight movies. Like any anthology film, it has its ups and downs, but thanks to an earnest passion for the genre, these filmmakers come together to make a mostly enjoyable final product.
The movie features seven segments united by the frame of a horror-obsessed video store owner. As the film’s resident Joe Bob Briggs rip-off (or homage, depending on how you look at it), Jeremy King is a ton of fun to watch, especially when he gets a segment of his own in the blood-soaked and meta humor-filled finale.
Weirdly enough, this anthology starts and ends strongly, with its weaker segments coming in the middle. The first short parodies horror movie cold opens, and while unsuspecting viewers may be caught off-guard by this ridiculously self-aware introduction, it will hook genre aficionados (who are clearly the prime target audience of this movie anyway).
Unfortunately, the center segments are largely one-note, many of them based on a single gag. For example, a Halloween parody starts off in a way that is a lot of fun to watch, but eventually becomes tiresome after its repetitive humor continues to drag on and on. There are a lot of these good ideas that just don’t quite work on paper.
Other segments show a lot of potential, but don’t have enough time to explore their ideas fully. In what is probably the funniest short, a bunch of different horror tropes and archetypes come together in the woods, and mayhem ensues. But sadly, there’s too much going on in too short of a period of time for it too have much of an impact.
There are three shorts that feel legitimately intelligent, almost too self-serious to find themselves in a goofy horror anthology like this, but as a result, they also stick out as the least entertaining of the batch. It’s a shame because, given a better home, those filmmakers show an insane amount of talent.
On a technical level, the filmmakers lean pretty hard into the retro video store look, and it’s pretty effective. Although each of the directors brings their own stylistic flair (Courtney and Hillary Andujar’s hypnotic segment is particularly gorgeous), the movie as a whole has that throwback feel that fans want.
Scare Package isn’t an entirely consistent anthology film — there’s certainly a few duds — but it’s destined for cult status as a wacky homage to the horror genre. Shudder truly was the perfect home for this, as it’s a movie made by horror fans for horror fans.
Scare Package streams on Shudder beginning June 18.