Fred (Josh Ruben) is a bitter man. His career as a self-proclaimed horror author – he is really in advertising – is going nowhere, even though he deserves all the success in the world. That according to himself, at least.
Fanny (Aya Cash) is the polar opposite: a best-selling horror writer, fully deserved of the success she has garnered. She is everything Fred wants to be.
One night, after having met by chance in the Catskills, the power goes out, and Fanny heads to Fred’s cabin with a challenge:
tell me a story that scares me.
Scare Me is a delight of a movie. The stories the two come up with grow increasingly bizarre, and the actors clearly have a blast delivering them. Aya Cash, in particular, chews up the scenery, though all credit to Josh Ruben who wrote and directed the film. It takes a lot to keep a ninety movie interesting with only two characters; three if you count Chris Redd’s memorable ten-minute appearance as a pizza guy. Scare Me could have fizzled out as a prolonged sketch show, but instead, the characters have enough depth to elevate the story. Fred initially comes off as a charming, if slightly sullen guy, but as the evening progresses, the facade starts to crack. He is the one who deserves Fanny’s success, he feels, because… Well, who knows why? Mostly because he’s a
nice guy – a codeword for mainstream toxic masculinity for the rest of us.
And Fanny? Her snide notes about Fred in her ever-present journal might seem vicious, but would a male writer be chided for doing the same? Writers observe, she says. That’s the basis of good writing. Maybe the lesson for the rest of us is to never look in an author’s journal. Nothing good can come from it.
Those are all relevant plot-points, but let it be known: Scare Me is above all just a very funny movie. Ruben does a good job at making the small cabin feel like an ever-changing locale through clever camera angles and vivid lighting. That give the actors have a deceivingly large playground to work with, something Cash takes full advantage of. Her performance is one for the ages.
As a horror-comedy with a slice of drama, Scare Me ranks right up there with Satanic Panic. It is a Shudder exclusive, so if you for whatever crazy reason don’t subscribe to that service, you probably should do so right now. Scare Me is itself worth the price of admission.
Letterboxd summary: During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in the dark of a Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear: Fanny is the better storyteller.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||5/6|