Saturday, October 19, 2013

Husk (2011)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

With Chris (C.J. Thomason) in the driver’s seat, five friends take a backroad trip to a lake house for a vacation. Chris, Johnny (Ben Easter), Scott (Devon Graye), Brian (Wes Chatham), and his girlfriend, Natalie (Tammin Sursok) prepare for a weekend of fun, but the friends encounter an unexpected dilemma after a flock of crows smash into the windshield. The crows block Chris’ view of the road, causing him to crash into a ditch.

After the crash, the group notices Johnny’s bizarre disappearance. Scott and Brian take a trip into the cornfields near the road to search for Johnny and call for help, while Natalie and Chris wait at the car. In the middle of the cornfields, Scott notices an unusual scarecrow, but Scott feels a sense of relief, when he spots a light in the lone farmhouse at the back of the cornfields. Scott and Brian investigate the house, and in a room upstairs, Scott and Brian find Johnny. But something is horribly wrong with Johnny. With his pale face covered in blood, Johnny, without saying a word, sits at a sewing machine with one peculiar goal: under the influence of  an unknown evil force, Johnny relentlessly works at the sewing machine to transform himself into a scarecrow.

Meanwhile, Natalie is startled by sightings of a small child and a smelly scarecrow laying on the ground with real teeth. Fearing the worst for Brian, Natalie runs into the cornfields to warn her boyfriend with Chris reluctantly trailing behind her. Before Natalie can reach Brian, Natalie is attacked by a scarecrow. Hearing her screams from the house, Brian rushes into the cornfields with Scott to save Natalie. Who’s influencing Johnny, and why are scarecrows determined to attack and kill everyone in the cornfield?

No real complaints about the cast here. Nobody is good or bad enough to receive individual mentions, so I’ll jump right into the story.

Husk features an intriguing story for good and bad reasons. The good? I’ll tell you this, every time the light bulb popped on and popped off, I was on the edge of my seat. During the sewing machine scenes with the victims, a light bulb in the upstairs room pops on, if someone is in there sewing themselves into a scarecrow. But when the light goes out, all hell breaks loose. You name it, and it happens during the “lights out” scenes. Murder, struggle, fights, panic, mayhem, everything. It’s like a rush of chaos during the darkness, and it’s almost impossible to look away.

The Bad side? Plot holes:

-WHO is controlling the human (Natalie, Johnny, etc.) scarecrows?

-If the human scarecrows are dead, then who brought them back to life? Why are the evil forces ordering the zombified humans to transform themselves into scarecrows?

-When Scott and Brian find Johnny at the sewing machine, they’re able to walk into the room with no problems. BUT, when Chris is trapped in the sewing machine room with zombie Natalie, Scott and Brian can’t break the locked door open?

-The survivors aren’t safe in the cornfields, because the evil scarecrows will attack anyone, who steps into the cornfields. But the survivors are perfectly safe in the same house, where their dead friends are transforming into scarecrows? Okay then.

The plot holes above are annoying, but Scott’s psychic ability? Oy vey. For some unexplainable reason, Scott has visions of the past, and he can clearly see what happened in the house years ago. A farmer shared the farmhouse with his two young sons. Alex (Nick Toussaint) was his father’s pride and joy, but Corey (Josh Skipworth) was the outcast/screw-up, and Corey was physically abused by his angry father. One day, Corey murdered his brother out of frustration and jealously with a pitchfork, and to cover up the murder, Corey turned Alex into a scarecrow. Scott believes Alex’s spirit is trapped within the scarecrow. On top of that, Alex’s spirit has the ability to jump from one scarecrow to the next, and Alex will murder and transform anyone, who wanders into the cornfields. And the father took his own life with a shotgun to the head.

Well, that’s a nice backstory, but the backstory doesn’t explain Scott’s random psychic ability. Sorry, but you can drive a truck through that plot hole, so it’s not so easy to ignore.

I’m sure a lot of people will hate the ending, but I actually enjoyed it. So Johnny, Natalie, and Brian are all scarecrows now, and Chris sacrifices himself so Scott can escape. Scott FINALLY runs a clear path to the ditch. Before Scott reaches the road, he collapses. Scott is still trying to catch his breath, and while he’s laying on the ground, Alex (in another scarecrow) lays down next to him with this devious smile on his face. Scott looks up, and he spots two motorists (a man and woman, presumably husband and wife) with flashlights searching the wrecked car. The man spots Scott, Scott tries to warn the man about the scarecrow next to him, but Scott is to gassed to speak. Running up to Scott, the man is inches away from the scarecrow…..and the screen cuts to black.

Yeah, this ending will piss a lot of people off, because they’ll see it as a weak cop out, but I’m not one of them. It’s a wonderful diabolical cliffhanger, because you know what Alex is capable off. He can kill anyone, and jump to another scarecrow, if someone destroys his current scarecrow. The motorists have NO idea what they’re walking into, and Scott can’t speak, because he’s still trying to catch his breath. Plus,  I could feel a sense of relief, when Scott finally reached a safe spot, but Husk pulls the rug out from underneath you, when Alex shows up. The tension during this scene is unreal, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities. What’s going to happen first? Is Scott going to catch his breath in time to warn the motorists? Or, is Alex going to pop up out of nowhere, and kill the couple, with a defenseless Scott on the ground? Good stuff.

It’s a tough one, but I’m going with a positive score for Husk. Yeah, the plot holes are annoying, and you’ll see a handful of stupid “Let’s split up!” moments, but during the one hour and twenty-three minutes runtime, I was HOOKED into this film. The end results will disappoint most people, but I couldn’t fight or suppress my anxious feelings. Who’s going to be the next scarecrow? Who’s going to fight back? Who’s going to make a run for it by themselves, and leave the rest of the group behind? I had to know everything. It’s like going through a spooky haunted house. The grand finale could disappoint you, but you’ll never forget the ride to the end.

Plus, director Brett Simmons deserves a lot of credit for creating the perfect creepy and eerie atmosphere for Husk, especially during the nighttime scenes in the cornfields. Husk is worth a try, if you’re looking for something different in the horror genre, but don’t raise the bar too high for this one, or you’ll be disappointed.

Rating: 5/10

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