Film Review: ‘Scare Package’ Horror Anthology Shows Us The Tropes
by Malissa White
Horror fans rejoice! Scare Package, the newest Shudder Original, pokes fun at some of the horror tropes we love to hate, while serving up some genuinely good gore. Add a few horror references, some laughs, and you’ve got yourself a self-aware meta horror movie in the vein of Scream. Plus, there’s a mystery cameo by a horror aficionado fans will absolutely love.
The anthology offers six horror segments within a connective story. ‘Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium, Horror Hypothesis’, our connective tissue, centers a video store clerk as he trains a new employee and the audience on the world of horror. Their conversation and the video store offer an easy backdrop for the remaining segments. Each segment focuses exclusively on well known horror slashics like Friday the 13th: Part IV and Halloween with a touch of giallo inspiration and monster madness.
Despite how aware of itself it is, the connective story falls short of actually dealing with the tropes they’re showing us. Instead, we’re taken on a short tour of the more basic tropes and asked to watch them play out just as we’ve seen a million times over (complete with a token black character killed immediately). That said, Scare Package is lighthearted love letter to horror all fans can appreciate.
At least the anthology segments do their best to undermine, explore, or poke fun of them. One of my favorites, ‘Cold Open’, kicks off the anthology with a character coincidentally named Mike Meyers as he hopes to one day be part of the horror movies he’s hired to start for others. Writer/director Emily Hagins gives us a warm, genuinely funny cast and story that truly subverts our expectations in a unique way.
Another favorite of the bunch is ‘The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill’. Co-ed Daisy (Chelsey Grant), terrorized by a masked serial killer every Fourth of July, finally gets the upper hand when she captures and attempts to kill him in varying ways.
Definitely the more fun of the concepts shown, segment writers John Karsko and Anthony Cousins do a great job of taking the piss out of slasher survivors. At one point, Daisy’s current boyfriend goes full Billy Loomis and declares that she should put out now that the killer is dead. With enough irreverent humor and a firework ending, it easily set itself apart.
Many of the segments were too short to really capitalize on concepts fully. Either due to lack of budget or lack of time, none suffered as much as feminist body horror segment ‘Girls Night Out of Body’. Written by Courtney and Hillary Andujar and Ben Fee, the segment follows cool LA girls who take horror into their own hands when they taste haunted skull candy.
For all its pros (diverse women! Sleepover hottakes! Giallo inspired color palette and imagery! Dreamy dance murder set to spooky dream pop!), I couldn’t help but see that much of the budget was dedicated to a truly epic motel set. Lack of gore didn’t necessarily work against the story, but I did end up wanting more from these demonic skull babes. And everything on set of course.
Overall, horror fans can’t miss Scare Package. Yes, it borders on schtick. Yes, we’re inundated with Whedon-level movie references. But, we also get a showcase of up and coming horror names. I’m particularly excited for the future work of Courtney and Hillary Andujar, ‘Cold Open’ writer/director Emily Hagins and writer/director Baron Vaughn of ‘So Much To Do’. Those looking for cool kills and great VFX work have plenty to love.
Scare Package is available on Shudder streaming service.