Scare Me: An Awesome Anthology Without the Segments – Shudder Review

A great horror comedy about two writers in a cabin.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Fred (Josh Ruben) is an aspiring writer and struggling actor. He rents a cabin to focus on writing, being driven to the cabin by fellow aspiring writer Bettina (Rebecca Drysdale). Getting stuck with writer’s block, he goes for a run and meets injured jogger Fanny (Aya Cash). It turns out that Fanny is the author of a very popular horror novel. Initially dismissive of Fred, when the power goes out on the mountain, Fanny comes over and the two start to drink. Fanny challenges Fred to a contest of telling scary stories that the two come up with on the spot. They’re briefly joined by friendly pizza guy Carlo (Chris Redd), but the night may end up being scarier than anticipated.

Yes, her shirt has the “got ’em” game hand on it.

END SUMMARY

As I have said before (including last Sunday), I tend to really like horror anthologies. Horror stories are often best when they’re broken down into short segments and it often gives directors their first chance to be in a feature, since many anthologies are made up of multiple films stitched loosely together. One of the most common framing devices is that of people telling each other scary stories, because it allows for a lot of variety in the horror and is a thing that many people enjoy in real life. This film is not that, but is also almost exactly that. In a twist that would not work if writer-director (and Collegehumor alum) Josh Ruben and Aya Cash were not so damned talented, this film does not cut away from the main characters to help us visualize the tales. Instead, we actually watch two very gifted performers act out the stories as they, often collaboratively, come up with them. 

Josh Ruben is great at the exaggerated movements.

In order to make the scenario really work, the two are given some fairly decent character development. Much more than you’d expect from a horror film. Fred is instantly unhappy about Fanny deriding him about not being a real writer, but she constantly proves that she is much more talented than he is. She treats horror as a way to address real social issues through metaphor, while Fred is more focused on spectacle than substance. Throughout the movie, he’s caught up trying to impress her and get her approval, but also can’t take real criticism of his inherent biases and simple ideas. At the same time, when they’re adding to each others’ stories, they seem to really get into it and almost display a bond that goes beyond the fact that they’ve known each other for a day. They come off as genuine people. 

Aya Cash is the Worst, in the best way.

I will add that putting Chris Redd in the film for the end of the second act was brilliant. He’s a breath of fresh air just as the story is starting to get a little stagnant and it pays off. It helps that the characters also decide this is the perfect time to get high and that all of them are really, really good at playing coked out of their mind. It gives the comedy a big kick up which sets the stage for the darker third act. 

Chris Redd on cocaine is… very similar to Chris Redd on SNL

Overall, I really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It’s such an interesting take on an old premise that showcases the versatility of some talented performers. I’m very impressed with Josh Ruben as a director and I look forward to his adaptation of Werewolves Within.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Boys (Season 2): No Subtlety, All Awesome – Amazon Prime Review

The Boys are back and America is in trouble. Those things aren’t related.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 2)

After the events of Season 1, the Boys are now fugitives. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) survived his encounter with Homelander (Antony Starr), who impregnated Billy’s wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), resulting in their son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti). Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and the Female (Karen Fukuhara) are all underground. Hughie’s paramour Starlight (Erin Moriarity) is still a member of the Seven, along with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), Homelander, Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), and newcomer Stormfront (Aya Cash). They’re now being directly overseen by Mr. Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), the head of Vought International. The Boys have to deal with both the superheroes and the newly-minted supervillains, while also finding a way to get themselves out of trouble with the law.

Also, Homelander is not a good dad.

END SUMMARY

I really don’t want to spoil things in this article, but it’s almost impossible to talk about one of the best parts of the season without spoiling it, so I’m going to briefly say the following:

This show took a big swing this season and it paid off. If you didn’t like the first season of the series, you might still like this one. It ratcheted the social commentary up to eleven and it was merciless. Rather than just satirizing superheroes and the superhero film industry, this season satirized America and American politics. The performances remain excellent, the show’s violence remains over-the-top enough to be almost comically entertaining while also being devastating when the narration calls for it. The dialogue isn’t the best, but it’s a bit better than the first season.

They also focused the cast of characters a bit better.

Without spoilers, I really recommend this season even if you weren’t thrilled with the last one.

***SPOILERS***

This season’s about America’s relationship with white supremacy. It’s not subtle. Stormfront, a character named after the former largest white supremacy publication in the US, is revealed to be a racist who murders minorities for fun and claims they died of other causes. However, when she first appears, she just seems confident, outspoken, and in favor of “law and order.” Naturally, she uses the internet to make herself more popular and to fully muddy the truth of any of her actions. Later, when Homelander murders someone on film, she’s able to shift public opinion back towards him by use of these troll farms and masterful public relations. She and Homelander become romantically involved, with her being one of the only people capable of standing up to him and capable of making him submit to her wishes. But the real revelation is that she’s not a new hero. In fact, in the 1970s, she was operating in the South as a hero named Liberty who was removed from circulation because she kept murdering minorities. She’s just been rebranded as “Stormfront” and given a heavy internet cult following. Moreover, the Liberty persona was not her original self either. She’s actually a Nazi and the first person given superpowers by Compound V. 

Why would a Nazi like a tall, blonde, ubermensch… ooooooohhhhhhh.

By intertwining her history and existence with Homelander’s, the show gives us a strange commentary on the relationship between the USA and racism. Homelander’s formation was based on DNA from Stormfront. In other words, his existence always contained traces of racism. Then, she rebranded herself based on the American image and used it to secretly try and destroy African-Americans, but eventually she risked getting exposed and had to go underground. Now, thanks to the internet, she can rebrand herself again. By marketing herself just right, she can be out in public and tie herself directly into the supposed movement to support America. In other words, she’s made it so that people supporting patriotism are supporting racism and those that condemn racism are accused of being unpatriotic. This is, of course, only a fictional world and none of this is happening right now in reality. No one kneeling to protest racism, for example, would ever be accused of being unpatriotic, particularly since the right to protest was one of the most fundamental ensconced in the Constitution. 

Naturally, she loves having her boobs lasered.

Overall, though, this show does a great job of giving some commentary about the nature of racism in America. I look forward to seeing Season 3.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.