US (dir. Brett A. Simmons)
Cast: Devon Graye, Wes Chatham, C.J. Thomason, Tammin Sursok, Ben Easter , Michael Cornelison , Josh Skipworth , Aaron Harpold , Candice Rose
Synopsis: When a murder of crows smash into their car windshield, a group of young friends are forced to abandon the vehicle, leaving them stranded beside a desolate cornfield. Hidden deep within the cornfield they find a crumbling farmhouse – but they soon discover that instead of a sanctuary, the house is actually the center of a terrifying supernatural ritual that they are about to become a part of…
Review: Beginning with a typical horror movie car breakdown sequence, “Husk” has a promising start for a slasher film. However by the midway point it unfortunately suffers from a severe identity crisis, as it drifts from sub-genre to sub-genre all the while cannibalizing other, similarly themed films – from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” to “Children of the Corn”. While the film isn’t short on savage scarecrow attacks, brutal slasher-kills (albeit off-screen ones), it does become increasingly repetitive with the whole setup of going into the cornfields, getting killed, coming back as a zombie scarecrow and going on a violent rampage. Mercifully, we are spared any post-modern, scarecrow related joking – the characters all seem to take their situation pretty seriously.
“Husk” is pretty compact, with things starting to roll right from the get go: group of teenagers are on a road trip, hit a bunch of crows and wreck the car, start disappearing in the cornfield. Simple enough. With the movie being as tight as it is, you hardly get to really feel for any one character, though none of them are really memorable anyways. Happily, you don’t feel the need to want to kill any of them personally, they just seem like an average group, no cliched stereotypes to speak of. No jock, no nerd, no slutty girl, no brainy girl etc. This actually works to the film’s advantage because every single character is on an equal playing field. The cast is a group of relative unknown actors and this definitely ensures no one character will be the last to go, or even the first to go for that matter. In fact this was one of the few rare movies involving the killing of a group of friends where I could hardly deduce the order in which the characters would be offed. SPOILER ALERT! We also get a rare lack of a final girl, only final boys in this one! A delightful surprise I must say.
To sum up the story in the most concise way possible, zombie scarecrows attack and kill people who are then re-animated as possessed zombies for one night in which they participate in some rather unpleasant self-mutilation before heading back to the cornfield to assimilate with the rest of the scarecrows. Oh, and there is also a vague back story about two brothers with a Cain and Abel complex who initiated the whole supernatural killer scarecrow situation when one brother killed the other in a jealous fit of rage because he was better than him at doing farm stuff, or some other equally banal reason for murder. By the film’s mid-point we are explained the whole pattern the scarecrows follow in their sequence of killing and reanimating victims by one character using a chess metaphor (insert face palm here) – at which point the movie pretty much shoots itself in the foot.
The saving grace of this film is the vicious and unrelenting scarecrows who don’t just stop at grabbing you with their hay-stuffed, nail-studded hands, but relentless pound on car doors and rip through victims like mad. The rustic Americana from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” also makes a resurgence here (and is used to great effect), however this highlights the fact that so many of the film’s better parts are cannibalized from others. Perhaps this would have worked better as a short, instead of an hour and twenty minute mix tape of “Children of the Corn” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
And minus a thousand points for the part where one of the guys says “Corn! It’s everywhere!” Yes, how unexpected… in a goddamn cornfield… which is full of corn.