Revisiting his moderately acclaimed short film from 2005, director Brett Simmons returns to the cornfields of Nowhereville with Husk, the full-length adaptation of his killer scarecrow premise. Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, a Made-For-TV effort from 1981, created the sub-genre and is still more effective than any film of the same ilk that followed because of its atmosphere and themes, and a performance by Larry Drake that was so convincing, one might’ve thought he was actually mentally handicapped. Aside from a good idea or two, Simmons’ slasher befalls the same luck as its brethren, opting for familiar action beats and a bland story over originality.
I’ll give Husk this, though: it gets going right away. Driving on a two-lane road through farm country, five friends are inexplicably attacked by kamikaze crows that explode all over their windshield, causing them to crash into a ditch. Coming to several minutes later, the group wakes up to discover Johnny (Ben Easter) missing and they go off to find him in the cornfield. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t the only ones walking through the eight-foot tall maze of produce, and judging by all the abandoned broken down cars with crow carcasses on them, they certainly aren’t the first to break down near there either. Escaping to a farmhouse nearby, the survivors realize that their assailants are scarecrows, and their deceased friends are now among their numbers.
Simmons’ screenplay fails on almost every level, furthering his story with plot devices that make absolutely no sense whatsoever right from the start. Even once the exposition starts rearing its head during the third act, the inciting incident of the crow attack is never explained, even though the film makes the effort to show several cars with remnants all over them. Does the evil inhabiting the farm have control over birds? An even bigger unanswered question, however, is how and why Scott (Devon Graye) suddenly develops psychic powers halfway through the flick. Shortly after he stumbles onto the farm, he begins having visions of the family that used to live there and, eventually, the sibling rivalry that was the catalyst for their predicament. Both of these omissions are confounding, as the film does its best to beat you over the head with barely thought-out rules once the reveal happens (still confused about the field and mask parameters). However, considering the rest of its runtime consists of nothing but chases through a corn maze, flashbacks, and people being carved up by metal nails coming out of the scarecrows’ fingertips (which, to be honest, is kind of neat and creepy), I don’t think assuming they were just thrown in to move the characters from point A to B is much of a stretch.
Husk’s mythology is culled from several better movies, and even stoops to including the most cliché character archetypes out there. Equal parts Children Of The Corn, Scarecrows and The Hidden, it’s as Frankensteinian as possible and is only original in the sense that those three films have never been compounded into one story before.
With no character development, several plot holes, and very little substance, it’s obvious the short film’s structure was stretched like taffy to pad out an eighty-minute runtime and meet a budget. Lacking the proper development it needed, Husk does nothing to break the streak of bad scarecrow flicks we’ve had for the past thirty years, and insists that you be completely brain dead to not notice the gaping plot holes that drive the story forward.
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