Director – Brett Simmons
Cast – Devon Graye, Wes Chatham, C.J. Thomason, Tammin Sursok, Ben Easter, Michael Cornelison, Josh Skipworth, Nick Toussaint
Release Year -2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The first entry in After Dark’s “Originals” series, Husk is a film I was looking forward to simply because it was going to give me a modern day take on one of my favorite horror sub-genres: killer scarecrows. Six years after the Sundance Film Festival success of his short film version of this film, writer/director Brett Simmons has now delivered his full-length feature version of his killer scarecrow story, and while I admit that I went into the film with mostly-positive expectations, this film fell short of the awesomeness that I expected.
While traveling on a solemn country road a group of five friends suffer a near-fatal crash along a large cornfield. When the friends awaken they notice one of the crew is missing, and seeing the corn field as the only possible place he could have run to(most likely for help) they enter the dense cornfield in search of their friend. Little do they know, the cornfield hosts a dark and murderous history, and they will experience the horrors firsthand.
I never seem to learn my lesson with these After Dark films. While some of them have been great like Frontier(s) and The Gravedancers, most of the entries have been of the undesirable result, but nonetheless a film about killer scarecrows had my devout attention despite it being an After Dark film. The story takes off quick, a positive given the film’s 83 minute runtime, and it does not take long before the scarecrow action kicks in. The setting, a cornfield with an old farmhouse in the center, is perfect for a horror film, and given it is the usual setting for these films it is a big reason behind why I enjoy them so much. Our characters trying to survive the scarecrow onslaught as they search for their missing friend and try desperately to find a way off of the farm is not a new idea, but it worked for the most part if you enjoy simple and cheezy horror. Sadly, while the simpler elements of the film did their job, the story came with numerous faults that kept the experience from being anything but mediocre at best. Numerous plot-holes plague the storyline, and most of them are of fairly ridiculous variety that I really could not ignore and look past. Aside from that the story just felt bland and never really developed into anything exciting, just people running from scarecrows and having ridiculous psychic powers all of a sudden.
Brett Simmons’ direction was so-so, with his positives equaling his negatives. I loved his atmosphere, and he used awesome sets to visually sell this film to the viewer. The cornfield pretty much did the job itself, but the old farmhouse was excellent and in the scenes it was used we were exposed to pretty creepy scenes thanks to its atmosphere. His usage of the scarecrows was great, and they delivered some good creep as well thanks to their look and how Simmons executed them. I found it a bit odd at first that the scarecrows were of a fast running type and now the slow Michael Myer’s-esque type we usually get in scarecrow films, but I quickly got over my distaste and found the tactic unique in its own right, although I still prefer my slow-moving scarecrows any day. Simmons’s direction seemed to always lose its flair despite his awesome scarecrows, and it came mostly in his execution of everything else. The character performances were mediocre, and his execution of the characters themselves lacked in providing anything interesting for me, and honestly had me a bit bored despite this being a fairly quick-paced 83 minute watch.
Overall, Husk is another mediocre film from the After Dark crew that despite the new tagline of “Originals” still fails to deliver a solid watch. The scarecrow action is good and is sure to provide a few good chills, but in the end everything else was not worthwhile and left this film an unrecommended “at your own risk” mediocre watch at best.