by Hope Madden
Has there ever been a place as glorious as the video store? The brain trust behind the horror anthology Scare Package clearly understands the secret joys of the independent VHS retailer and their beloved horror wares.
“This weekend is all about no rules, no clothes, and no cell service,” begins Emily Hagins’s surprisingly fresh meta-horror Cold Open. It sets the stage for a really funny way to spend about an hour and 40 minutes.
Chad Buckley of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium (directed by Aaron B. Koontz) is training a new employee, covering the ins and outs of the VHS game and dodging that creepy regular customer. Periodically we get a glimpse at the store’s rentals, taking shape as the set of horror shorts that make up the anthology.
Chris McInroy’s consistently funny One Time in the Woods plays like a good natured Troma flick. So, it’s a bloody, gooey, gore-soaked, viscera-saturated mess with a bright disposition.
Noah Segan (Knives Out) makes his directorial debut with M.I.S.T.,E.R., which boasts the great casting of Noah Segan (how’d he get him?!) as well as Jocelyn DeBoer (Thunder Road, Greener Grass). You wouldn’t call it inspired, but a nice sleight of hand and one subtly creepy bartender are enough to keep you guessing and entertained.
Anthony Cousins’s The Night He Came Back IV: The Final Kill doesn’t offer much in the way of a fresh perspective and feels especially tame compared to the two other meta-horror episodes in the package. The two shorts that bridge sci fi and horror—Courtney and Hilary Andujar’s Girls’ Night Out of Body and Baron Vaughn’s So Much To Do—don’t answer nearly as much as they ask, but they do keep your attention.
The collection is weaved together with love and a lot of nerdy horror know-how. Was it destined for Shutter? Well, that Jo Bob Briggs cameo couldn’t have hurt.
Scare Package sports an excellent use of budget for a fun, campy set of horror-loving films—the kind of short movies that lovingly mock the genre. Most of the episodes offer a knowing lampooning, and each ends abruptly enough to avoid wearing out its welcome.