Scarecrow (2002)

Lester Dwervick has everything in life a depressed, dimwitted loser could ever hope for. At school, almost everyone picks on him and despises him. Called names and tripped in the cafeteria, he doesn’t even get any relief when he’s in class because the teacher is ragging on him for having a promiscuous mother and living in a trailer. Then, when he approaches her outside of class to apologize for not paying attention, she insults him.

Home life isn’t much better as his mother is a drunken slut who brings different guys home all the time. Even when he’s at work, he is the butt of jokes.

Lester even gilds the lily of his miserable existence by insisting on drawing terrible pictures of birds. He is so blatantly pathetic that when he accosts a cheerleader on the street, hands her a picture he drew for her and asks if she will go to the prom, you are actually kind of laughing with the cheerleader’s bullying boyfriend when he tears up the picture and dumps on it Lester’s head.

You can’t really argue when one of his mother’s johns laughs and asks why he doesn’t draw something normal like monsters or cowboys. He also stomps on a picture Lester drew for the only girl (Judy, the sheriff’s daughter) who stood up for him. I guess everyone in Emerald Grove is an art critic!

Things reach a critical mass when Lester is out one night and sees a drunken Judy kissing one of the bullies. A devastated Lester runs back to his trailer only to see some white trash guy dog styling his mom and a shouting match ensues, followed by this guy chasing Lester into the nearby cornfield and choking him right underneath a scarecrow until poor old Lester is finally put out of his misery. (Despite the blocks upon blocks of strip malls shown for no reason a various times in the film, the town is portrayed as being so small that everyone ends up in the same cornfield right near the same evil scarecrow.)

Proving yet again that God works in mysterious (and in this case, freaking awesome) ways, instead of finding peace in heaven as you would assume most losers’ souls would once they’ve been bullied to death, Lester’s soul ends up inside that dang scary looking scarecrow! And in a moment that you can’t help but laugh at and love, that scarecrow first comes to life by doing a somersault through the air! Crud, can we sign up Scarecrow for the US Men’s Olympic gymnast team? He would kill it on the floor exercises!

But you know what he’s going to kill first? A bunch of bullies, teacher, mom’s boytoy, his boss and even a guy who works at a cemetery! I’m not even sure what Cemetery Guy did to Lester, but it didn’t stop Scarecrow from taking a shovel to the guy’s neck!

Apparently shot in eight days for only $250,000, Scarecrow feels like it would have been a lot more fun if there was more time and money to improve every part of it. The story fails first of all with the silly depiction of Lester’s existence. It was so over-the-top that the film threatened to become a self-aware comedy, but since it didn’t, you were left wondering if any of it was to be taken seriously.

Then once Scarecrow appeared and starting killing people, the rest of the film was a jumbled mess with no build up to any of the murders, murders that didn’t make any sense (like Cemetery Guy) and poorly thought out or non-existent action scenes involving Scarecrow. Why establish that he has all these great physical abilities when you barely showcase them?

The look of Scarecrow was good and was scary enough, but the characterization of Scarecrow left a lot to be desired. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of a scarecrow monster talking to people, but I know that having him spewing one liners and then laughing at his own dopey jokes is a terrible idea. Having your monster clowning around doesn’t really work here since there was about Lester to convince us that this was really his personality underneath all that smelly straw. He was a socially backward wimp, but now he’s got a snappy quip for every murder he commits?

While the acting isn’t the absolute worst you’ll ever see (can anyone really top the great Stever Barkett or his son Christopher in that department), it is bad enough to detract from the film. The movie also felt like it wasn’t really put together by someone who knew what they were doing as we are subjected to numerous establishing shots of the cornfield as well as a number of transition shots of the clouds moving through the sky and the previously mentioned strip malls. None of it adds anything to the film except to just call attention to how needless the shots are.

The film even padded things further by including a totally unnecessary framing device of a guy telling his two friends this story, complete with surprise ending that is the exact opposite of a surprise.

Add in the ending of the film after Scarecrow has been defeated where we catch up with Judy and her friend where something sinister is apparently going on, but for the life of me I don’t know what it was supposed to be (Is Lester’s soul now inside Judy? Did Judy get a lobotomy?) and you have a film that just didn’t have the talent or vision in front of and behind the camera to be anything more than a terrible microbudget affair.

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