Year: 2008
Director: Jesse T. Cook, John Geddes
Cast: Steve Warren, Gary Fischer, Chris Warrilow, Thomas Webb, John Geddes

By all accounts, Scarce should bore any avid horror fan to tears. It has a plot that we have seen countless times, and in the end, offers nothing new. However, the film does so many things well that it ends up being an enjoyable slasher film that is better than a lot of stuff I have seen make it into theaters lately.

The film starts badly. In fact, I rolled my eyes more than once and was prepared to shut it off. We see a bunch of college aged guys at a huge party drinking, trying to get laid and spouting of some bad dialogue. However, this only lasts for about five minutes, when we flash forward to the next morning. We meet our three main characters--all typical college guys--who are heading back home from a short vacation of snowboarding in Colorado. They banter back and forth during the drive and eventual hit a huge snowstorm in Pennsylvania. They stop at a diner, where the have an encounter with some locals after asking for directions. Obviously, any horror fan knows where this leads, as the directions they are given are bogus and they end up crashed in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard. In the crash, one guy breaks his leg, so the other two venture out to find help. They get to a cabin where they meet up with a seemingly friendly local who offers them food and place to stay. Well, turns out (surprise!) this local is actually a cannibal, who, with the help of a few of his buddies, kills travelers and harvests their meat to make it through the scarce winters.

The film is the combination of so many films I have seen from, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Hostel to Wrong Turn to Calvaire. However, the production is top notch and the filmmakers know how to create tension and suspense using wide camera shots and angles. Additionally, our protagonists actually are pretty likable, and though they make some dumb choices, we can't help but to root for them. The gore is pretty well done and plentiful enough to satisfy gore hounds. We get chopped up bodies, slit throats, decapitations, and shotgun blasts. The setting of the film is foreboding and I really did "feel" the cold, particularly the last 10 minutes of the film when our main characters are running for their lives during the wind and snow in nothing but their boxer and T-shirts! It is a scene that is many ways reminded me of the highly stylized and effective final scenes of the French film Calvaire and I think is done equally well here.

My biggest qualm with the film is that I HATED the ending. Too many recent horror flicks are using this "twist" to be different and effective, when it is actually becoming a predictable cliché. I was actually pretty invested in the two main characters and really wanted to scream when the film ended the way it did.

Maybe I am becoming too soft in my reviews, but I actually enjoyed this film quite a bit and highly recommend it, despite some the negative reviews I have read elsewhere. If you can get past the beginning (and the end) of this film, it is a very well done and competently directed film that ends up being much better than it had any reason to be.

Fright Meter Grade:

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