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“Scarecrows” brings gritty realism, great practical effects and some well-paced comedy into a retro style slasher with potential cult classic status.

I didn’t have high hopes for Scarecrows since it looked like yet another generic ’80s/’90s type slasher — but I loved the poster art, and that drew me in. I had to get about 15 minutes into the film and then, bam, I was so surprised at how entertained I was. A cornfield full of scary looking scarecrows is the perfect place for sex, drugs and torture, is it not?

This newest group of clueless teens looking for a place to party, really get themselves into a corny mess (yes, silly pun intended), But once they get their asses, naked or otherwise, into the cornfield, the horror kicks in, and I reveled in it all the way to the end.

Scarecrows is an original take on the cornfield serial killer genre, which, despite what you’re thinking, I’m pretty sure is a thing.

What started out in Children of the Corn territory and had only up to go, Scarecrows is the perfect fall horror flick to help fill in the gap between Halloween and Christmas. I can see this being a new Holiday Horror Classic! Talk about an intense and immersive corn maze experience!

Synopsis: While on a hike to find a secret lagoon, a group of friends have no choice but to pass through an ominous cornfield. Unbeknownst to them, they encounter a farmer who despises trespassers and has vowed to kill anyone who crosses his land.

You can see from the synopsis why it seemed familiar. Horny teens on their way to find a place with water to skinny dip in, getting high, trespassing, cornfields, etc. Also, a lagoon, near a cornfield? I thought lagoons are a coastal thing…and cornfields? Well I’m pretty sure there are none near beaches, so that was confusing.

Yet despite Scarecrows starting out as a textbook slasher film, it has its own unique twists and turns and becomes a film absolutely worth watching.

Scarecrows starts out generically: two college age couples out to find a place to play. What made it work is that the actors have excellent comedy timing, and I immediately liked all of them: Ely (Umid Amin) and Ash (Hannah Gordon), even Farbsie (Mike Taylor) who was kind of an asshole and his girlfriend Devon (Maaor Ziv) who was whiney and had her butt cheeks hanging out. The fact that they had good chemistry and I believed their characters kept me in the car with them, instead of tuning out.

When the girls make them stop for a potty break, a finger drops onto the hood of the car. The super bright guys use the wipers, smearing blood everywhere, making me laugh out loud. Well I’m a gore fan, and I love good comedy, so I was in ’till the end! Where did the finger come from?

We as the audience already know it came from one of the scarecrows in a nearby cornfield. We are shown the crows picking at the scarecrow, stealing the bloody digit off of a human covered in burlap and hung in the field to die. But the hapless teens don’t know that yet, so all we can do is laugh at their jokes, cringe at every bad decision they make and go along for the gruesome ride.

Scarecrows is directed and co-written by Stu Stone (who played Ronald Fisher in Donnie Darko). No stranger to moviemaking, he manages to sew together a successful balance of comedy and true horror. This film is funny, but brutal. The killer farmer (Jason J. Thomas) is a silent, stoic bad guy, who is deadly serious about no one trespassing on his land.

Once one of the scarecrows go up, they never come down. The scenes where he sews their mouths up… ouch! This is due to the spectacular practical effects, no CGI! I love the scarecrow faces too – the makings of nightmares. I can picture masks of these being popular in the future!

The other reason it works is that we can’t help but think it will end like other horror films, and well, I’m here to say it does not. Our main girl Ash, who is played terrifically by Hannah Gordon, does her absolute all to survive. The final shot in the film is one of my favorite horror endings ever. It is so dark, bleak and hopeless.

If you only ever see one horror flick dealing with a cornfield killer, this is the one to see! There is even a possibility this could have a sequel. There is a back story as to why the farmer is such a terrible guy. I’d love to see that elaborated on.

Scarecrows stars Hannah Gordon, Mike Taylor, Maaor Ziv and Umed Amin. Directed by Stu Stone and co-written by Stone and Adam Rodness, it rises from the cornfields to premiere on VOD December 11th and on DVD February 1st from Uncork’d Entertainment. See it if you dare!

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