Scare Me, 2020.
Written and Directed by Josh Ruben.
Starring Josh Ruben, Aya Cash, and Chris Redd.
Fred (Josh Ruben) and Fanny (Aya Cash) compete over who can tell the best scary stories.
Fred is doing everything right. He’s got an idea. He’s rented a cabin in the woods. Everything is in place for him to write that novel he knows he has inside of him… and then the power goes out.
Turns out power outages are the great equalizer because, much like Fred tried to blow off his driver (a hilarious Rebecca Drysdale) when she wanted to chat with him, Fanny didn’t seem all that interested in talking to Fred when they ran into each other earlier that day. Fanny is a bestselling author and while Fred doesn’t recognize her right away, he knows who she is as soon as she mentions the name of her book. She’s a big deal and while it might’ve been stalker-ish if he had shown up at her cabin, she shows up at his with an idea.
Why not take advantage of this spooky night to tell each other scary stories? They’ve already let themselves be roped into a situation where they’re isolated, alone, and without electricity. Might as well make the most of it.
It’s Fanny who title drops the movie and makes it sound like Scare Me will be a competition in the vein of ‘whoever scares the other person first wins.’ While it might never lose that competitive edge for Fred, Reuben’s film is more of an appreciation of storytelling and what can be achieved with just your body and your voice.
None of the stories Fred and Fanny tell are masterpieces. It wouldn’t make sense if they were, but as much as Fanny talks about horror being derivative and writers stealing ideas from each other, they’re not being judged on originality. They’re being judged on their ability to engage an audience.
On that front, while Reuben occasionally enhances the music or uses a special effect or two, most of the sound effects are created by Reuben and Cash, who throw themselves into the task of performing these stories. It makes the special effects feel earned, like that’s when Fanny and Fred were the most convincing. Their voices made those images appear. It’s also enjoyable to see Fred struggle to come up with a word or misspell a name the first time he types it into Google. These stories aren’t meant to be rehearsed or polished. Mistakes give the situation credibility.
While most of the film is a two-hander between Reuben and Cash, Chris Redd joins the movie later on as Carlo, the pizza delivery guy who decides to hang out with them for a bit. Whether Scare Me needed a third player is debatable, but it definitely didn’t need Fanny choosing that moment to decide they should start taking drugs.
Like Vast of Night, Scare Me understands the power of sound and the film’s pared-back style gives its actors a chance to really play around and challenge themselves.
Scare Me premieres October 1st on Shudder.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★