Thursday, August 4, 2011

Husk (2011)

     There isn't much original in Husk (2011).  It has a small cast of characters in the late teens to mid-twenties age range, bad things happening in a haunted cornfield/farmhouse, and oddly inserted flashbacks to explain the plot.  Even given how familiar it all seems, Husk somehow works.  It overcomes a young and inexperienced cast and having to hint at gore rather than show it (a budgetary constraint, no doubt).
     Another weakness that Husk turns into a strength is its short running time.  It clocks in at about 82 minutes, which means that there is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 minutes of filler left on the cutting room floor.  Director Brett Simmons does his best to keep the story moving forward – the momentum is slowed by the first clumsy inserts of the backstory – and make something out of a story so simple as a magical scarecrow is going to kill you in the cornfield.
     Husk was one of the movies I left sitting in my Netflix queue when I quit the service.  Whatever algorithm they use picked it as the horror film I would most like to see.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it, though I don't know how much was due to judging it as a low-budget genre film.  I do know that it looks better and is less distracted from the story than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) or A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remakes, and I'm sure at less than 10% of the budget of either of those.  I would still recommend Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) – a TV movie devoid of any type of gore but with more dangerous things hinted at than the murderous scarecrow – over Husk, but I think Husk is the type of film that makes good use of the horror/suspense genre's easy conceits and plays them for more than can be expected.

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