This year, instead of doing it’s annual “Horror fest”, After Dark films has opted to do a series they’ve titled “After Dark Originals”. Instead of buying up films that were already made, and simply distributing them, they’ve taken a more controlling position over the projects. From the initial filming, to post production, the ADO series are films that were developed for, and by After Dark films. One of the high profile offerings from this series is a film titled “Husk”. Unfortunately, it’s already been hyped to be something that it could never possibly live up to. Much like the claims surrounding the first “Hatchet” film, people are already talking about “Husk” as if it’s the second coming of “old-school American horror”. As we learned in the case of “Hatchet” this creates expectations from fans that can’t possibly be met. When you make such a bold claim, you fill the heads of your potential viewers with images of films they grew up watching, and those that hold very special places in their collective hearts.
I don’t feel it’s entirely necessary to break down the plot for you. If you’ve seen a horror film between 1974 and 2011, you’ve probably seen something identical in nature. There are some kids on a road trip, and some sort of jump-scare causes them to veer off of the road leaving their vehicle inoperable. Strange things begin to occur around them, and for some odd reason they are more interested in getting closer to the mysterious danger, than staying the fuck away, like any human with some form or fashion of a logical thought pattern. Soon, after venturing into an eerie cornfield, and investigating the broken down remains of the house from “Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, the dimwitted “teens” start to get picked off one by one.
I understand that director Brett Simmons set out to make a film that pays homage to the classics, but as we’ve discussed before, there’s the correct way to film an homage(The Super, The House Of The Devil), and then there’s just lazy filmmaking. Sometimes when a director/writer/producer realizes they have a stinker on their hands, they start tossing around hyperbole like “It’s a throw-back” or “It’s old-school”. What they really mean is, it’s a bad movie, and they hope that you’re gullible enough to buy in to their marketing ploy. Every possible horror cliché, vehicle, exposition, even camera angle is utilized here, and to basically no effect.
There’s no real plot to speak of, other than your basic “TCM” fare. Replace the psychotic family with what seems like a gang of ninja scarecrows, that are apparently good at everything but scaring crows, and you have “Husk”. They do give the scarecrow a sad back-story, and a seemingly supernatural explanation for his existence, but the dots are never fully connected, and aside from a few unexplained ghostly visions one of our main characters experiences, it’s not paramount to the film as a whole.
The one thing I will give “Husk” is that the “possession” angle was a bit unique. If it were put into the hands of a more competent writer, it may have salvaged an otherwise forgettable, and ridiculous film. Some of the special effects are okay looking, but with all the furious fast-motion hand-held camera work, you don’t really get to see the carnage, or even the scarecrow it’s self.
This was a pretty big miss for the ADO’s first outing. I hope that it gets better from here. In the interest of full disclosure, I did watch “Husk” as it aired on the SyFy channel, so it was in it’s censored form, but It’s pretty rare for SyFy to do any censoring other than blanking out the F-Bombs, and blurring out the nipples. They aired “Wrong Turn 2” in almost it’s full glory, so I highly doubt anything was cut from this film that would have heightened the experience. There is no amount of gore or nudity that could have made this an enjoyable film. Perhaps Brad Simmons will ease up on the handi-came and clichés next time around. You can clearly tell that he has proper love and respect for the genre, but as we’ve learned time and time again, that doesn’t always carry over into someone’s film.