Scare Me is one of the most inventive Midnight movies I have seen during my years at Sundance. A wildly original and incredibly entertaining film filled with meta humor, thrills, and three terrific performances.
Fred (Josh Ruben) is a struggling writer who is hiding out in a cabin in the middle of the woods to find inspiration. Fanny (Aya Cash) is a cocky, successful horror writer. The two spend the night in Fred’s cabin during a blackout exchanging horror stories back and forth. But as the night goes on, Fred and Fanny begin to commit more and more to their stories, making them seem more alive.
Cash and Ruben (who also wrote and directed the film) give two lively and impressive performances. For about 90% of the movie, Scare Me is just those two on screen telling each other a scary story. But this isn’t an Are You Afraid of the Dark? scenario where they light a flashlight underneath their chin around a fire, these are full on performance pieces. Fred and Fanny act out every character of every story that they tell, from werewolves to creepy grandpas to trolls, changing voices and editing story beats as they go along. Cash and Ruben deliver on every note, effortlessly changing tones from horror to comedy while also really becoming the characters in their stories. It was an absolute blast watching these two performances. Chris Redd also has a great supporting turn as a pizza delivery man who is a huge fan of Fanny’s work. He’s a lightning rod of energy and comes in at a perfect moment when the movie was leaning towards redundant.
Scare Me is a very claustrophobic film, as most of the movie is set in this one cabin. What Ruben does best is slowly build the tension in cabin. Fred is jealous of Fanny’s success and her creativity. Her stories are for original, more interesting and just overall scarier than his and as the night goes on, this begins to boil over. More than just a Midnight horror-comedy, Scare Me is rooted in themes of ego and insecure masculinity while also looking at the creative process. Ruben’s script is dynamite and never hits anything too hard on the nose.
The finale of Scare Me was a bit disappointing and the only thing keeping the movie from pure greatness. Though still cool, it was a bit predictable and wasn’t as thrilling or fun as I wanted. For a movie that was so inventive and unique in the story it was telling, I felt the ending should have been one the blew us all away.
Scare Me is a movie unlike any I have seen before. A number of other horror movies are referenced throughout the film and you can see where Ruben got some of his influences. But Ruben also made something original and fun. He and Cash give two sensational performances and this is a movie that has just as many laughs as it does thrills. Perfect Midnight movie fun.
Scare Me is playing the MIDNIGHT category of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Follow Kevflix on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, and on Facebook by searching Kevflix.