The image of the scarecrow awakens a deeply rooted primal fear within me. I’m not exactly sure why, but there’s something about it that makes my skin crawl. As such, movies about scarecrows are a true horrific treat for me. The SyFy Channel released a movie simply titled SCARECROW last year, and I have to admit that it is one of the better ones produced by their studios over the last couple of years. And while not perfect, this flick contains some creepy effects and nice intensity.
If you are not familiar with SCARECROW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:
For generations, it was an urban legend that lived in the nightmares of children. Now, the season to rejuvenate the tale will revive the town’s darkest fears. With the Scarecrow Festival on the horizon, school teacher Aaron Harris is doling out punishment for six students serving detention; their task: help their friend Kristen’s family farm with some grunt work before it’s sold. But the cornfields circling the farm come with a legend: It never sleeps, it never dies, it can’t be stopped, hear their cries. The Scarecrow lives to kill us all. Keep it buried in the fall…
While the kids are playing a terrifying game of cat and mouse in the cornfield, Kristen tries to convince them that the Scarecrow is very real, rejuvenated by the blood of its prey—and proof comes all too soon. As darkness falls over Miller Farm, the horrified prisoners’ hope of fending off the flesh-ripping terrors of the Scarecrow seem like a distant prayer. Scarecrow is coming.
SCARECROW is shot well overall, and its production value looks pretty high. I like the locations used in the filming; the desolate farm surrounded by corn is a great backdrop for building terror. And the boat graveyard, in which the last section of the movie takes place, is perfectly eerie.
The special effects are good, too, especially for a TV movie. The CG that is used for the scarecrow looks good, and there’s some very nice gore throughout. One particularly gruesome scene shows the sliced open thigh of a girl who falls through a rotted floor. The good effects combined with a close-up shot of the wound will make even the heartiest of gore-hounds cringe.
I am impressed with the acting in SCARECROW as well. Granted, it is not super-high caliber, but the cast does a great job nonetheless. Robin Dunne and Lacey Chabert, as the main characters, play off of each other well and portray a solid sense of onscreen chemistry. Likewise, the supporting cast do a lot to lend credibility to this production.
But even though the film is a lot of fun, it does have some glaring flaws. First and foremost for me is the lack of character development. We are never really given many reasons to care about the characters, which in turn tones down the tension quite a bit. Secondly, the legend of the scarecrow is never fully fleshed out. It is hinted at many times, but there’s never any solid conclusion.
Still, SCARECROW is entertaining and fans of lower-budgeted features should enjoy this one. This isn’t schlocky horror, like some of the other SyFy Channel titles; instead, this is a true attempt at bona fide terror. And while the end result might not be perfect, it is certainly worth checking out. I can’t wait to see what SyFy and director Sheldon Wilson do next.