You know you’re for a certain amount of cinema drudgery when the film is one of those low budget, no imagination affairs shot almost entirely on someone’s farm. Boasting a cast of about four or five people (one of which is the director who is equally inept in front of the camera as she is behind it) who can’t even stand around convincingly explaining the same things to each other repeatedly, Curse of the Scarecrow unfortunately delivers the tediously bad film its setup promised for most of the 85 minutes you’ll spend squirming with disinterest. Until the heroine decides to impersonate a scarecrow that is.
Finding herself cornered in the barn by the rampaging straw man, June does the least sensible thing imaginable, hastily putting on a flannel shirt she finds discarded on the floor, stuffing it full of hay, and then works overtime attempting to assume a suitably scarecrow-like pose in an effort to trick the real scarecrow. The goofy expressions that June screws her face into provide some of the best laugh out loud moments you’ll find in anyone’s backyard scarecrow movie.
Not to be outdone, the scarecrow himself brings his A game of absurdity when he examines June by sniffing her and pawing at her, as if he had some sort of super sensory powers designed to suss out whether a being was a scarecrow or just a human doing a really bad impression of one.
But why is this scarecrow harassing June who has just returned to her family home to face the demons she’s lived with for 20 years since she saw her parents murdered there. By a scarecrow! As the movie pointlessly tells us via some on screen text at the beginning, a couple of hundred years ago a guy was strung up and left in the fields for the crows to peck and eat to death and he cursed the town and now he comes back every 20 years to kill folks. Even worse is that we are told that he mistakenly thinks the people he’s killing are the ones who done him wrong all those years ago! If only the scarecrow had a better vision care plan!
I was never sure why the movie dumped all that on us right from the start when we then had to suffer June going home and finding all this out for herself later on in the movie. What could have been potentially interesting scenes of the audience finding out the what’s behind all the mayhem with June instead results in the viewer zoning out while June goes over the same dopey origin story we already know.
But it isn’t just June’s rehashing of the old legends that that will prompt eye rolls. There’s also the posse that accompanies June to the house. Karen is her therapist and if June’s impersonation of a scarecrow is ridiculous, Karen’s impression of June’s therapist is downright atrocious. Whether it’s blurring the lines between friend and therapist by going with her and helping her clean out her house, giving an obviously unstable June alcohol or doing some amateurish hypnosis on her that results in Karen having to literally shake June out of it, Karen is more the bad influence friend than medical professional. But at least she dresses better than June’s other friend on the trip, Nancy.
Nancy is a bigger gal and the wardrobe choices she is forced to make do with including ill-fitting sweaters with such slogans as “flawless” and “no regrets” emblazoned on them will make you wince in pain more than any of the minimal amount of blood and gore in the movie. In particular, it is when she is wearing a black and white polka-dotted onesie that makes you think she is an overstuffed Dalmatian sausage that has you cursing the director for being so mean as to do this to the actress playing her. Until you realize the director is also the actress!
Painfully dull at every juncture, Curse of the Scarecrow is full of scenes of these people talking to each, settling into a predictable rhythm of shots alternating between two talking heads, only occasionally broken up by badly staged scenes of violence. At one point it appeared that Karen was accidentally gut shot forcing June to leave her for dead, but later on June showed up to help, only sporadically remembering to clutch her stomach and limp a little. I was never clear if this was some fault of the acting or if maybe she didn’t get shot after all and the scene was just a clumsy mess.
Every bit of the fail that Curse of the Scarecrow unquestionably is, is encapsulated during the climax when Karen and June set the scarecrow on fire with a lit cigarette. Somehow either due to budgetary constraints or regular old bad decision making (I actually suspect it was a combination of both), the movie never shows the scarecrow burning up. There is some smoke and reaction shots from June and Karen who are bathed in a flickering light that I guess is supposed to represent fire, but nothing else, thus depriving the audience of its singular opportunity for a bit of vicarious enjoyment because who doesn’t like to see evil scarecrows stumble around engulfed in flames?
Instead what we get is a paper with a childish drawing of a scarecrow burning up, an unintentionally funny commentary on what we just witnessed for the last hour and a half on screen.
© 2019 MonsterHunter