Thursday, September 15, 2016

In short: Scare Campaign (2016)

Warning: spoilers for obvious plot twists ahead!

Their network side producer presses the boys and girls of Scare Campaign, an Australian network TV horror-themed prank show that has already gone one step too far during their last production if you rightly believe actress and obvious horror film heroine Emma (Meegan Warner), into making an even more sensational and “real” final episode for their fifth season. The kids today, we are informed, are all into an Internet snuff show named Chekhov’s GunMasked Freaks, where people wearing 2010s horror movie masks murder victims with the hardware store stock they’ve strapped to their cameras, and while real murder is (alas, the producer clearly thinks) still off the table, things in Scare Campaign need to become rather different if the show wants to stay on air.

To nobody’s surprise, this season finale might just turn out to be the series finale for lack of warm bodies in the next one.

While Scare Campaigns certainly isn’t a bad way to waste eighty minutes of one’s life, watching it mostly provoked some thoughts about plot twists, or rather, about how difficult getting them right truly is. On one hand, if you don’t play fair with the audience and drop some random crap at them that doesn’t fit into what they’ve seen before, your plot will feel arbitrary and pointless. If, on the other hand you play as fair as Cameron and Colin Cairnes’s film does, you risk becoming too obvious, annoying an even just mildly genre-savvy viewer because they’ll know exactly what will happen. Scare Campaign certainly falls too far into the second camp, not so much playing fair with its audience than pointing it quite openly at what’s going on.

Which can still work in a film that has much else going on beyond its plot, but Scare Campaign is a very straightforward horror thriller whose only claim to subtext is some clichéd rambling by the chief “Masked Freak” about The New Media that really isn’t leading anywhere. Targets, this is not.

Still, the film is technically competent, and perfectly watchable. It’s just nothing more than that.

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