There’s something about an anthology film that immediately triggers some apprehension. Whether it be in short or long format, the ebb and flow of each individual film in an anthology can make or break its overall success. With some, you can tell when films are just slapdashed together. There’s a lack of consistency. No form of communication between the directors and writers within the project itself, so the tone and theming run off into the sunset ne’er to be seen again. In the case of SCARE PACKAGE, all of the creators manage to avoid those pitfalls, creating an overall hilariously gory, cohesive product that many will regret missing out on if they decide to pass rather than press play.
SCARE PACKAGE was written and directed by Emily Hagins (“Cold Open”), Anthony Cousins (“The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill”), Chris McInroy (“One Time In The Woods”), Courtney and Hillary Andujar (“Girls’ Night Out Of Body”), Aaron B. Koontz (“Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”, “Horror Hypothesis”), and the directorial debuts of actors Noah Segan ( “M.I.S.T.E.R.”) and Baron Vaughn (“So Much To Do”). Koontz and Cameron Burns developed the concept and, through a combination of everyone’s efforts, managed to interweave all of the respective films seamlessly into the overarching plot surrounding Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium while also providing a fun examination of tropes within the horror movie genre.
SCARE PACKAGE leans into their Meta narrative from the get-go. Presented with the daunting task of setting the tone, director Emily Hagins’ segment, aptly titled “Cold Open”, cuts a hilarious, self-aware rug by focusing on stock character Mike (Jon Michael Simpson). Mike is the guy who provides the plot-based situations that set up horror movie premises. However, he wants more for himself. And, as goals tend to sometimes goes, he gets more than he bargained for one Halloween night. As an opener, it lets everyone know that this anthology is going to be many things: hilarious, a bit fucked up, full of gore and bloody goodness, and trope-tastic.
What “Cold Open” accomplishes in hooking the viewer in continues with the segments that follow after. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would snort as hard as I did at a man literally melting onscreen like I did during “One Time In The Woods”. “M.I.S.T.E.R.”, which serves as Noah Segan’s directorial debut, follows after. While it takes a little while to figure out what’s going on, the furry reveal at the segments climax is unexpected and hilarious. There’s a bit with a bar of chocolate that will have dog owners everywhere snorting. Courtney and Hillary Andujar’s “Girls’ Night Out Of Body” melds the slasher genre with gleeful sleepover fun that is further emphasized by the quality production design. Anthony Cousins’s “The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill” in gloriously bloody and self-aware fashion pokes fun at the trope of the horror movie villain that never dies no matter what anyone does to them. Baron Vaughn’s directorial debut “So Much To Do” unexpectedly kicks you in the face with its supernatural, yet relatable take on our obsessive spoiler culture.
What I greatly appreciate were how seamless the transfers were between segments, with “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” serving as that connective tether to keep the audience rooted in the world we’re taking in. With each transition cleverly crafted into the overall plot of “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”, it also made it that much more believable that everything was playing out within a Video Rental store. Everything comes together to take us to the final segment, also directed by Koontz, titled “Horror Hypothesis”. Reminiscent of Cabin in the Woods, the essential horror movie trope characters have been kidnapped from their respective lives and placed into a research facility. While the segment itself is good and self-aware of the craziness happening, the decision to include a celebrity cameo (which I’ll keep mum about to avoid spoilers) came a little left field and did take me out of what was going on. Others may not have the same problem, but I’m not certain the segment was elevated by the cameo. However, that cameo aside, this segment proved an excellent wrap-up, especially with an arc featured in “Cold Open” coming full circle before credits start rolling.
If you’re seeking this out purely for the scare factor, this might not be the film for you. SCARE PACKAGE fully embraces the comedy side of its horror-comedy label with a refreshing aplomb. There are moments of comedy in certain segments where you may judge yourself for laughing so hard that you drop your soup into your lap (I’m not speaking from experience. Nope. Not at all.) However, whatever comedy is present is equally balanced out by gory practical effects that involve literal melting skin, skull explosion blasts reminiscent of Scanners, and literal body splitting that will make your groin muscles go, “Nope!”
SCARE PACKAGE is a film that’s best watched with friends. While it is still an enjoyable experience to watch by yourself, there is so much hilarity and shenanigans happening onscreen, that you’ll want to share it with as many poor hapless souls you can get your hands on. It has everything: gore, ritual sacrifices, comedy that will have you questioning your mental state, and VHSes galore. So, you will not want to miss this.
SCARE PACKAGE will be available for streaming on Shudder starting tomorrow, June 18.