Year:  2007
Director:  Jed Weintrob
Cast:  Angela Bettis, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Devon Graye, Ben Cotton, Christopher Titus

Joan Burrows (two time Fright Meter Award Winner Angela Bettis) returns to her hometown where, years earlier, she was the sole survivor of a sadistic, brutal serial killer's rampage in which she witnessed her best friend tortured and ultimately killed.  It's her niece's graduation; however, the joyous atmosphere of the small town quickly shifts as teenagers begin showing up murdered in the same manner in which the serial killer that Joan thought she killed all those years earlier killed his victims.  Could it really be him, or is someone recreating the carnage with the hopes of succeeding in what his/her inspiration failed to do before: murder Joan?

Scar really boils down to being part Saw/Hostel and part name any teenage slasher flick from the 80's.  However, despite its obvious influences, Scar ultimately is not a bad little genre entry.  With a somewhat original concept of the killer trapping his victims in pairs (usually they are best friends or in a relationship together) and then taunting them through a series of "rounds" where he tortures each of them individually until one of them breaks and gives permission to kill the other, Scar does possess some pretty intense, stomach churning scenes of torture.  The use of flashback to gradually reveal the horror inflicted on young Joan and her friend is effective at building tension and anticipation and these are perhaps the best scenes in the film.  When the film shifts to present day, it often becomes typical teenage slasher film fodder abound with genre cliches and underwritten characters and situations, which is certainly where the film falters.  Bettis is a terrific actress, but her older Joan, who should be a character replete with dramatic opportunity, instead meanders from scene to scene virtually unresponsive and severely flat.  This is no fault of hers, but instead the writing, as the climax of the film does allow her to show the glimmer of brilliance that she has delivered in the past.  Other characters, who have hints of interesting back stories, are one-dimensional or completely forgotten about all together, as is the case with the creepy Iraq-war veteran father of Joan's niece's love interest (a standout performance by Devon Graye).  Additionally, Scar implements some eye-roll inducing implausibilities to drive the plot to its climax that are completely unnecessary; the characters could easily have ended up in the same place without these absurd suspensions of belief.  

Still, despite the glaring flaws, Scar ultimately still surprisingly ends up being a slightly better than average horror flick. There are enough highly effective, well constructed scenes that buffer the film's faults, including the blood drenched climax. It's also appreciated that the film is able to juggle the balance between all and out torture porn and stalk-and-slash film as effectively as it is able to; there are scenes very reminiscent of the golden age of the teenage slasher flick only to seconds later transition impressively into the characteristic dark and gritty torture scenes that have defined the last decade or so of the mainstream horror film.   Ultimately, if one can forgive the weak characterizations and the few instances of improbability, Scar should prove to be a worthwhile passing of an hour and half that definitely will cause some instances of  and squirming at what is unfolding on screen.  

Fright Meter Grade:

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