Scare Me

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Scare Me Movie Poster Image
Mostly effective horror storytelling has violence, language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Creativity is a big theme here. But the overall theme is men being threatened by powerful women, and while the movie takes that scenario to its extreme, no real lessons are learned.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As a successful, smart  author, Fanny is somewhat admirable, but she has her bad side, too, and her story doesn't come out well. On the whole, most of the behavior is less than admirable, and one character gets away with cheating/stealing.

Violence

Man threatens a woman. Character (accidentally) stabbed with fireplace poker. Blood. Story about an accidentally poisoned dog. Other verbal horror stories.

Sex

Graphic spoken sexual references. Reference to women "baring breasts." Reference to a "miniscule erection."

Language

Strong language includes many uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "p---y," "bitch," "d--k," "pissing me off," "erection." Plus exclamatory uses of "God," "Jesus."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults snort cocaine, smoke CBD, and drink beer constantly. Reference to cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Scare Me is a dark comedy/horror movie about two writers telling scary stories during a power outage in a snowy cabin as fears and desires escalate. It wears out its welcome (and feels a bit show-offy) after a while, but it's mostly fun and clever. Much of the horror is spoken rather than shown, but it still gets pretty intense. A character is accidentally stabbed with a fireplace poker, and there's some blood. A man threatens a woman. Spoken stories include tales of various slayings and assorted spooky stuff, as well as some sexual references. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "bitch," and more. Adult characters drink beer throughout, and there are scenes of CBD smoking and cocaine snorting, as well as a reference to cigarette smoking.

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What's the story?

In SCARE ME, ad man Fred (Josh Ruben) rents a remote cabin so he can write his first screenplay, a werewolf movie, in peace and quiet. While out jogging, he meets his neighbor, Fanny (Aya Cash), who's already published an acclaimed horror novel and is working on her next. When the power goes out (and the battery on Fred's computer is spent), Fanny shows up at his door and suggests that they pass the time by telling scary stories. She orders a pizza and commands Fred to begin. Fred starts but quickly realizes that he's outclassed by Fanny, who has no end of questions and better ideas. As the stories continue -- and pizza delivery driver Carlo (Chris Redd) gets involved -- darker fears and desires start to emerge.

Is it any good?

It goes on too long and ends up pretty much where you'd expect, but this playfully scary film is still great fun most of the time, with energetic comedic performances and clever sound and camerawork. Written and directed by Josh Ruben -- who also stars as Fred -- Scare Me feels like it must have originated as a series of improv games, with the wild, springy actors hurling lines and ideas like fastballs. Even in the movie's quiet moments, Ruben plays with horror movie cliches, such as hearing a noise in the basement, opening the door, taking one look, and closing it again without investigating. Cash's arrival ramps things up quite a bit; she's a smart, prickly delight.

But when Redd turns up with the pizza quite a ways into the movie, things start to feel a little too busy -- and a little like showing off. The movie wears out its welcome. Still. Ruben makes the spoken stories wonderfully visual, with shadows, sound effects (both studio-made and mouth-made), characters racing around the cabin, and rhythm-precise cutting, and these tricks go a long way into making things feel more dynamic. Moreover, Scare Me is brave enough to explore male-female power struggles -- specifically, the ways that men can feel threatened by more powerful women -- and to maneuver that into the movie's true terror.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Scare Me's violence. Even though most of it is spoken rather than shown, does the movie still seem violent? How did the violence make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like being scared?

  • Are alcohol and drug use glamorized in this movie? Do the characters make them seem cool? Are there consequences for using them? Why does that matter?

  • Why do we like to tell stories? Why is great storytelling so hard?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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