Scare Package feels like mostly gory filler for a film that wants to parody the genre but can’t get over its fanboy citations.
Scare Package (2019) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on April 6, 2023
Rating 2.5 /5
Scare Package makes a big mistake by trying to point out how cliche it is that a horror film has meta elements. The cold open creates a confusing beginning to this horror anthology that wants to poke fun at the tropes of horror movies and make its framing device about people aware that they’re inside a horror movie. Despite the creativity at play in the many gore effects and embracing certain absurdities, Scare Package arrives in rough shape with its sloppy assembly.
It doesn’t help that the framing device does little to signal when the next segment starts, bringing back bad memories of the abysmal Movie 43. The framing is that of a struggling video store that still rents out VHS tapes (no, this movie is not set in the 1990s). Chad Buckley is a horror fan who runs this establishment. He has an annoying know-it-all customer, Sam, who desperately wants to work there. Instead, Chad hires the more competent employee Hyde, a quiet man who puts up with the antics of both Chad and Sam, coming off way more weirdly than they appear. This premise has some silliness, but it mainly revolves around horror movie citations, self-aware subversions, and inexplicably goofball antics. It’s no wonder the film seems to get bored of this premise and flip it on its head for a Cabin in the Woods-style satire.
The mini horror stories peppering the picture throughout are alright, though. Cold Open, despite being a confusing first segment to start the picture with, has a decent awareness of its archetypes and is charming in its weird way. One Time In The Woods almost plays like a Mad Libs of wild horror subversion, switching gears between a transforming mutant and a serial killer with some smile-worthy moments of dark humor. M.I.S.T.E.R., on the other hand, feels like a half-thought commentary on the nature of toxic masculinity and reduces its commentary to a surprise clashing of werewolves and Satanists.
Girls Night Out Of Body struggles to find something in its haunted candy premise but doesn’t come up with much besides some nasty makeup effects. The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill is probably the most hilarious segment for taking place at the end of a horror movie, highlighting how a franchised killer will never really die. So Much To Do is an absurd premise of a spirit coming back from the dead and wanting to watch the finale episode of a show, despite the body he possesses not being caught up and fighting not to have the show spoiled for her.
The film's biggest draw for horror fans will be the surprise inclusion of Joe Bob Briggs, playing himself as the horror movie expert. Unfortunately, Briggs is all business for the horror scenario he’s been thrown into of trying to outrun and outsmart an undead killer. Chad, being a big fan, boasts about how much he loves the guy and further showcases how this film is more of a giddy and hastily written love letter to horror. At one point, Briggs addresses Chad and the audience when talking about the horror movie cliches, highlighting how Chad knows he is inside a horror movie and the audience knows they’re inside a horror movie. Yet the most fun that the film seems to muster with Briggs in the movie is when he calls Chad a moron right before his death.
Scare Package feels like mostly gory filler for a film that wants to parody the genre but can’t get over its fanboy citations. The movie is worth watching for some playfulness in the segments and some decent moments of over-the-top violence. Outside of those elements, however, the film kind of flounders in trying to make a more cohesive anthology, feeling like the first-draft of a goofy riff on V/H/S.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.