Well it’s that time of year again. The holidays are long behind us, visions of a nice warm summer are already consuming our thoughts, and the good folks over at the After Dark label are releasing their new batch of films. The first of these films I’ve had the (ah-hem) privilege of seeing is HUSK. How did I see HUSK, you ask? A screener; no. Early press pass to its theatrical release; no? No I saw HUSK on the SyFy channel, and if that don’t summarize this film to a “T” then nothing does!!
First let me explain the difference between the After Dark Horrorfest and Originals monikers. The new After Dark Originals (ADO) is their new film series that takes the reigns and doesn’t just simply acquire already made films. According to their website these original films are
comprised of 100% original scripts and not from acquired, previously created films. After Dark takes complete control of the development of the films, from script to post production in partnership with SyFy and Lionsgate.
Makes sense, right? I mean they’ve consistently illustrated over the last few years that they know what makes a (ah-hem) solid film (please note the sarcasm). But regardless, at least they’re making the effort to put out some original content (ah-hem). And this brings us to the film HUSK.
HUSK is the story of five twenty-something’s who’re driving through the corn belt on their way to someplace else. We get the typical dialogue when suddenly a murder of crows (yes that’s what a group of crows is called) slams into the car crashing it into a ditch on the side of the road. Confused and slightly injured the group gets out of the car and tries to figure out what to do next. Johnny (Ben Easter) seems the least injured and decides to go out and find some help at the nearest gas station. But instead of taking the road RIGHT NEXT TO THEM Johnny instead dives into the very dense corn field to find the gas station. Hey; maybe he needed to find an ethanol station?
When the others realize Johnny’s been gone for a long time they also decide to jump head long into the dense corn fields and search for him. Our group consists of couple Natalie and Brian (Tammin Sursok & Wes Chatham), the geek Scott (Devon Graye), and the everyday guy Chris (C.J. Thomason). Scott and Brian jump into the corn fields first and when Natalie, who’s on some kind of pills, has a mini panic attack she and Chris join in the corn-filled fun. Now can I just point something out here? Though I’m not from the corn fields of Nebraska (I grew up in South Jersey and now live in Austin, TX) even I know that corn fields are extremely dense and dangerous to travel through. It seems to me it’d be extremely easy to loose one’s sense of direction and end up lost for a really long time. So how is it that even though our twenty-somethings have no idea where they’re going or heading, they all end up at the same farmhouse (buried in the corn fields) practically exiting the corn field at the same friggin’ location!!
Soon after they get to the farmhouse they start getting attacked by a scarecrow with nails hammered through it’s fingers. I know this film is under the label of After Dark Originals … the key word being “Originals”, but from the moment this flick starts you’ll be plagued with deja vu. There’s not an original bone, or straw, in it’s floppy scarecrow body. Writer-director Brett Simmons has nothing new to add to the sub-genre of the “killer scarecrow” and let’s face it, this sub-genre has the potential to be really creepy. But the potential here is wasted and the execution is poorly done. When Brian and Scott first get to the farmhouse they of course just walk right in yelling for help. They walk upstairs and find a dazed Johnny at a sewing machine, nails hammered through his fingers. After Johnny finishes sewing he simply collapses, but instead of running over and trying to help him, Brian and Scott get preoccupied with a strange noise and seem to completely forget about him. Good friends.
Then it happens; Simmons writes himself into a corner and needs to come up with something to further progress the story. Hhmmm; what to do … what to do. Hey I know; let’s unexpectedly and without explanation give one of the main characters visions about the farmhouse’s past and how this whole mess with the killer scarecrows began. Really? This is the best Simmons could come up with? So geeky Scott, suddenly starts experiencing very detailed visions about the history of the farmhouse and what created the deadly scarecrow (which you quickly realize isn’t a scarecrow at all). This turns out to primarily be a ghost story … and a silly one at that. The characters are constantly running around blindly in the corn fields never getting lost; the film breaks it’s own “rules” about the scarecrow not being able to leave the corn field (it leaves plenty of times to go into the farmhouse); it’s full of characters doing stupid things (Chris finds the keys to the car at the farm, gets in, and guns it through the dense corn field until he slams into something, wrecking the car); and it’s full of ridiculous dialogue (“We’re surrounded; we’re surrounded … the corn is everywhere”).
Thankfully the acting is above average for an After Dark film premiering on SyFy, but it’s nothing that will blow you away. Everything here is very routine and there’s nothing original going on. This is pretty much the standard After Dark flick that we’ve all come to expect over the last few years. Standard story, standard characters doing the same standard things, and the same standard dialogue. Add to this an extremely convenient way of progressing the plot and you’ve got yourself a 90 minute eye rolling waste of time. After Dark Originals? More like After Dark Typicals. Skip this one.
Director: Brett Simmons
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer