Ask any fan of horror and they will tell you that to be a horror fan transcends mere love of the genre. Horror goes beyond the content of the films, it’s a community. Horror has its own rules and tropes that are gospel to those that speak the language of the films. For horror fans, there is a rite of passage and a ritual to knowing certain films by heart and recognizing titans of the both the films and the broader world surrounding them. Scare Package understands this and delivers a perfectly packaged film as a gift to the community and fans of horror everywhere.
Scare Package is the creation of Aaron B. Koontz (Camera Obscura) & Cameron Burns. The film is an anthology of short horror segments that are brilliantly woven into a larger, overarching story. Seven directors flex their horror skills and enjoy a playground of tropes and twists, including Emily Hagins (First Kiss), Baron Vaughn (you’ll recognize him from Netflix’s Grace and Frankie), Noah Segan, Chris McInroy (Death Metal), Anthony Cousins, and Hillary and Courtney Andujar. Aaron Koontz also lends a directing credit to the film, helming the story that compiles the short films.
Scare Package boasts a diverse cast that does a killer job of bringing this meta horror comedy anthology (try saying that five times fast) to life. In Scare Package, Chad is the owner of the struggling genre video store Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium. Lonely and brimming with horror knowledge, he only has his one regular customer to keep him company until one day an unexpected applicant arrives.
What follows is a fun and gory romp through Chad’s knowledge of horror films, as he on-boards his new employee. As Chad goes through the Rules of Horror, a new film emerges to illustrate the foundations of the genre. Things get interesting when the new applicant suspects that Chad is up to something sinister.
As I mentioned at the outset, part of the appeal of horror is that it is built upon tropes and formulas that make it instantly recognizable to its fans. Shared practices are, after all, a cornerstone of building community. Any horror fan worth their salt could list the rules of horror without much thought. Since the formula of horror has become so familiar, the genre has turned a new corner into a sort of “post-slasher” version of horror that makes fun of the tropes while still building on them.
Scream is probably the first example that comes to mind—a horror film that terrifies precisely because the audience understands very well what happens to characters that break the rules of the genre. Scare Package, however, joins the ranks of films like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and Trick ’r Treat, in which the notion of subverting horror tropes is played for atmosphere and fun versus genuine horror.
Honestly, the thing that works so well in Scare Package is that it bridges the gap between the diehard horror fan and the horror junkie in training. Scare Package is gory and gross and hilarious and horrifying, all at once. It’s a playground for lovers of the genre with nods and homage directed right at the biggest fans of horror. That being said, the emphasis on fun and the presentation of the film makes it accessible. This is the film you show your squeamish friend, younger sibling, or child as an introduction to all that horror can be. To this lifelong horror fan, that’s a beautiful thing.
Scare Package does a really fantastic job of compiling and flipping the building blocks of horror. Every iconic subgenre and expectation is represented and playfully realized. It’s well-written, fast paced, and thorough in its exploration. You’ve gotta love a film that is willing to be silly, and Scare Package embraces its goofy side. Any crude edges and roughness in the film only add to its charm, making it an ideal “popcorn feature.”
Congratulations to Scare Package, a film so lovingly made for the horror community by the horror community. Don’t miss this one!
Scare Package comes to Shudder on June 18th, 2020.
Movie Score: 5/5