It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a clearly horrible horror movie solely in order to mock it.
Yes. This fit the bill.
Six twenty-somethings wake up in an abandoned building. They are told that they’re on a game show called Are You Scared? and that they must each face their deepest fears in order for a chance to win some great, unspecified prize. Problem is, these individual challenges really aren’t very fair and tend to end up with the contestant quite dead.
1. There are very few redeeming features about this movie, other than it being an easy way to spend 80 minutes with other friends who enjoy being snarky. There is much to snark about in Are You Scared? One of the more obvious things to point out is how much it totally rips off the Saw franchise.
This is kind of funny because I’m working on another movie review right now where I’m arguing against the idea that two movies with similar setups have to be understood in terms of “original genius” and “hack rip-off.” The problem is, Are You Scared? so clearly is a hack rip-off. It’s not just that these fear challenges might as well be traps set by Jigsaw; it’s that most of these challenges are traps set by Jigsaw. Walking on broken glass? Shotguns and tripwires? Double power drills? A refusal to excise objects out of your own body? These can ALL be found in the first two Saw movies.
For fuck’s sake, people. I’m not asking for the moon here. Just, show me some creativity. There are a lot of ways to horribly kill somebody.
2. Besides a total lack of originality, this movie also suffers from bad acting, bad writing, confused themes, horrible special effects, and a general lack of logic prevalent throughout the entire story. I’d focus on the acting first, but all the actors involved are so uniformly terrible that it’s hard to single out only one as the worst of the bunch. The detective guy who breaks the rules and the random criminal profiler he’s paired with are pretty awful, though. I have honest-to-god seen better acting in both soap operas and Syfy original movies.
Also, the main chick, Kelly. I really admire how fiercely she glares at the security cameras before she rebelliously smashes them with her fists. I totally buy her as a tough girl now.
3. The special effects in Are You Scared? are just about as convincing as the acting is. Hell, even the props are terrible. One girl has a chain around her waist, and it looks like something you might find in the Halloween section at Target. Another person’s head gets, like, twisted off, and it looks like fucking claymation. There is one scene where most of someone’s head gets chopped off, and it’s actually not too bad. I think they spent the entire budget on that one shot.
They sure didn’t spend it on makeup or costumes, anyway. The burn prosthetics on the villain look like an exceptionally bad Freddy Kreuger mask. (The villain clearly wants to be Robert Englund. He fails. He really, really fails.) And even the cops look utterly ridiculous. There’s this one scene with about five police officers, and even though all they’re doing is walking around a room with their guns drawn . . . they’re just hilarious. The costumes and guns look so unrealistic that you can’t even take the fucking extras seriously.
4. Thematically, this movie fails as well. Yes, I said thematically. Mind you, the movie doesn’t really need a theme. No one would have complained if the villain was just killing people because he’s a sadistic fucker. But, instead, the writers try to force two different ideas into the movie at the same time, and together they make no sense at all. There’s this whole face your fears thing, which is a perfectly acceptable horror movie trope. And then there’s this whole mercy killing thing, cause “a merciful death is better than a lifetime of pain.” Or something like that.
As you might expect, overly elaborate, sadistically cruel, impossible to defeat mercy killing traps . . . well, that’s kind of a hard feat to pull off. The whole thing’s a muddled nightmare. It’s like the writers realized that they probably couldn’t steal the entire script from Saw, so they decided to mostly steal but add in some other random elements in the hopes that it would make it, you know, unique.
Unique’s a polite way of putting it.
5. The best scene in this movie . . . sorry, the best idea of a scene in this movie . . . involves the double power drills. Admittedly, the drills themselves are, as already noted, a total rip off from Saw. But the nature of the trap itself, which involves two people instead of just one, is actually kind of an awesome idea. It should be an awesome scene too. Sadly, it’s not, and here’s why:
A. The scene takes too long. They drag it out with unnecessary and highly cheesy slow-mos, intercuts, and close-ups that completely ruin any dramatic tension this scene had going for it. It doesn’t help that, in many of the shots, the drills are like five feet away from the actor’s heads . . . and sometimes not even pointed in the right direction.
B. The other characters outside the room keep looking in, banging on the door, and yelling helpful things like, “Get out of there!” to the two people strapped to the death machine. Seriously, they just keep saying that, over and over again, like the people involved might be like, Nah, you know, this is actually kind of fun. I LIKE waiting for giant drills to stab me through the forehead. It’s not like I’m handcuffed or tied down or anything. I’m totally just chilling here, man. Calm the fuck down.
6. Of course, there are no characters in this movie who are overly burdened by the weight of logic. If I auditioned a few months ago for a scary reality show a la Fear Factor and suddenly found myself drugged and kidnapped in some dusty warehouse with a giant cut on my stomach and no crew or producers or liability disclaimers to sign anywhere . . . yes, yes, I, too, would be totally jazzed about my upcoming celebrity. *Facepalm.*
Also, here’s something that just doesn’t even remotely make sense: near the beginning of the film, the rebellious detective guy leads a bunch of cops to a building where there’s a dead body. (It’s the chick who died in the teaser/first act section.) One of the other cops says that the rebellious detective is the boy who cried wolf. The detective later uses this as a reason to NOT call in SWAT.
Now, clearly, the cops were hoping to find the Big Bad at his warehouse and not just an old crime scene. Nevertheless, getting there too late and finding the body of a murder victim is hardly the same thing as making up stories about a guy who’s been killing people left and right. I mean, seriously? Clearly, the writers never actually bothered to read the story about the boy who cried wolf.
7. Also: I get that the writers plagiarized the Saw storyline right down to Danny Glover’s “I’m-a-cop-on-a-mission” character, but next time, guys, do the world a fucking favor: cut the whole “detective and his annoying profiler/wannabe girlfriend” storyline. They might actually have the worst dialogue in the whole movie (no small feat) and their significance in the story is pathetically minimal. Actually, I’m not even sure it exists.
I simply can’t be bothered to write up an entire recap of this movie, but I am making a Spoiler Section for a few additional notes. If you’re worried about being spoiled for this movie, I have to admit, I’m a little ashamed of you.
8. The black guy dies first. Make of this what you will—prejudice, predictable cliche, time honored tradition—but, honestly, I was pretty damn happy. Because of the six twenty-somethings waiting to die? This guy was easily the most annoying.
9. There are three guys and three girls in the warehouse. The three guys die first. This is about the only surprising thing that happens in this film.
10. These traps are unfair, even for a psychotic serial killer. Never mind the ridiculous time restrictions that nobody could ever actually beat. (Although, admittedly, the way these people tip-toe around, you’d think they don’t know how long a fucking minute lasts for.)
But the entire point of these traps . . . okay, so a dude’s scared of the dark, right? So you make him go blindly down the stairs. He then gets a brief flash of blinding light that allows him to see a gazillion trip wires and a shitload of shotguns in the way of the exit door. So . . . if he wasn’t deathly afraid of darkness, he’d be just dandy in the maze of trip wires and shotguns? How does this even make sense?
11. Main chick Kelly (aka, the girl who’s biggest fear in the world is someone finding out her Secret) is left for last because the Big Bad is also her daddy. Apparently, he was abusive, and Mom and Kelly tried to burn him to death while he was sleeping or something. Except he wasn’t sleeping. He was actually awake the whole time and heard the mom asking Kelly, “Are you scared?” before they set his ass on fire. And, improbably, he survived. He must have an affinity for flames, because when Kelly and Mom fry his ass again, Big Bad Dad impossibly survives again. Why has every horror movie in the last decade ended the exact same fucking way?
12. If you’re frightened that the world might learn your deep, dark secret, you probably shouldn’t tell people holding video cameras that you have a deep, dark secret.
13. If you’re pretending to be asleep while your wife and child are trying to burn you to death, maybe you should, I don’t know, move.
Oi. I need a fucking snack.
Awful. Awful, awful, awful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so boldly and so badly rip off another movie. I’m having trouble grading it. On one hand, a movie that steals so badly from another film should deserve an F. On the other hand . . . I did have fun picking it apart with my sister and my friend Lindsey. I was completely entertained for the 80 minutes I was watching it. Mind you, that’s because I enjoy meanness and mockery, but you can’t do this with every bad horror film. Rest Stop, for instance? That’s so awful you can’t even mock it.
Plagiarizing is bad, kids. Especially if you suck at it.