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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 their Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear.

Cast:  Josh Ruben, Aya Cash, Rebecca Drysdale, Chris Redd

Directors: Josh Ruben
Writers: Josh Ruben

Scare Me from writer-director Josh Ruben is a celebration of storytelling and scary stories told by candlelight. Its entire premise relies on you being entertained by spooky campfire stories. The film’s premise is very simple. Fred (Ruben) is a wannabe horror writer, actor and director — who’s decided to take a weekend up in the woods to work on his big hit: a werewolf revenge story. His first morning in the hills he runs into Fanny (Cash) who is the real deal. She has had worldwide success with a best-selling zombie novel. But she is also on a getaway to work on her next project. 

A goblin named Darren

A goblin named Darren

The two meet briefly one morning when they’re both out for a run but it’s later that night when a power outage in the area causes Fanny to wander over to Fred’s place seeking company. When she arrives — more or less inviting herself inside — it’s a night of booze, drugs, pizza and stories with Fanny prodding Fred to test his creative skills. “Scare me, and I’ll scare you,” she says. 

Fred starts with his werewolf story. Fanny pulling at every detail like an overbearing creative writing teacher. Each character decision she pounces upon: “why would the police arrive? How did the mother know how to load the gun?” The tiniest descriptive word choices Fred uses are put under the microscope as well. Fanny is well aware she’s the published writer in the room and she’s not afraid to show it. Eventually, the tables turn with Fanny taking her turn at spinning a scary story and she’s very committed to the role-play involved as she takes to smearing peanut-butter all over he face at one stage in a dramatic-turn.

Imagine if your pizza dude was just like, “yeah, I want to play scary story games too”

Imagine if your pizza dude was just like, “yeah, I want to play scary story games too”

For the most part, Scare Me is relying on the performances of both Ruben and Cash to be enough to entertain audiences. And to give credit, they are both very entertaining. Though the film does a lot to undermine any sense of dread it builds by interjecting a joke into the next scene. Scare Me is very much a comedy first, but it isn’t sure how scary it wants to be either. 

There are some small choices made to help elevate the stories. A shadow on the wall turns to a withering branch as Fred describes the sound it would be making if it was scratching on a window outside. Some small sound effects are also added underneath the actors’ performances to enhance what’s on-screen. Meta moments play nicely for laughs like when Fanny says “if this was a movie this is where the camera would very slowly dolly in.” Of course, the camera does just that, because it is a movie.

Just when things start to wind-down Chris Redd shows up as a Pizza guy and injects a new level of energy into the film, but it’s not quite enough to justify just how long Scare Me is. At 104 mins it’s very long in the tooth. Scare Me would have been a lot more enjoyable if it had hit a snappy 80mins. 

Scare Me has an interesting premise but the film doesn’t reach its full potential. The film is stretched way too long and the ending needed a re-write to achieve something special. It’s still fun thanks to the performances of both Cash and Ruben. And for fans of alt-horror experiences, it’s at least trying something different.  

Scare Me is streaming on Shudder from October 1st.


(Scare Me screener provided for review)