The 400-Word Review: Scare Package
By Sean Collier
June 17, 2020
There are far more forgettable horror anthologies than there are good horror anthologies.
Those that rise above mediocrity are few and far between. “Creepshow” is the gold standard, of course, and more recent efforts “Trick R Treat” and “V/H/S” did well enough. There are some gems if you go back to the ’60s or ’70s. Unfortunately, most of the subgenre is populated by loosely connected short films — and in many cases, only one or two are worthwhile, their impact snuffed out by others clearly brought in to stretch to feature length.
“Scare Package,” a horror-comedy collection debuting this week on the streaming service Shudder, is not free of some anthology pitfalls; there are certainly weaker entries in the mix, and one or two that feel out of place. But it overcomes those shortcomings with a robust, two-in-one frame narrative that positions the full feature as a loving satire of horror devotees.
To explain the conceit: Chad (Jeremy King), a conspicuously mustachioed, wannabe good ol’ boy, dispenses bygone movie nerdery from the counter of his Texas video store, Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium. The video-store setting allows us to zoom in on assorted televisions and cassette labels, diving into snippets of individual flicks; as the program nears its conclusion, Chad’s world is turned upside down and he becomes the knowing expert in a “Scream”-esque experiment.
That wraparound narrative dovetails with a broader frame story — it sounds clunky, but is handled with aplomb — about side characters in the horror universe. These tongue-in-cheek reflections carry over to the strongest entries in the anthology. The masterfully titled “Night He Came Back Again! Part IV — The Final Kill” plays with the notorious difficulty of defeating a Jason-esque monster; “Cold Open” considers the logic that gets teens in trouble with homicidal maniacs while babysitting.
“Scare Package” has a deep lull in the middle, as a few segments fall short of whatever mark they were intending to hit. Excising even one would’ve strengthened the package, and the length wasn’t needed; cutting a segment only would’ve brought it down to a cozy 90 minutes or so.
The cohesive vision helps override the stumbles; so does a dynamic, “Stranger Things”-esque score from Alex Cuervo and a late-game cameo from a certain horror host (no spoilers, though Shudder devotees can likely guess). Uneven though it may be, “Scare Package” is campy, gory fun.
My Rating: 6/10
“Scare Package” begins streaming June 18th on Shudder.