Reviewed by: JimmyO
John Geddes and Jesse T. Cook
Jesse T. Cook
What's it about
When three snowboarders on a weekend getaway run their car off the road, they find a not so friendly helping hand. It seems that meat is scarce in this neck of the woods, and these three young guys are a perfect addition to the locals menu. Mmmmm… chunky!
Is it good movie?
Scarce is a movie about cannibals that seems to exist purely because of flicks like Hostel. Three snowboarders on a weekend trip get stuck in an isolated Pennsylvanian town. They meet up with some baddies who have a hankering for flesh, of the human variety. And sadly, you are not going to see anything fresh in Scarce aside from the fact it takes place in the dead of winter. You have to hand it to the guys who played the victims. Directors and co-writers, John Geddes and Jesse Cook along with Thomas Webb are put through some real life torture by being chased around by these mad cannibal hunters and they are wearing only a t-shirt and boxers in below zero weather. Talk about suffering for your art. And with that, there are a couple genuine thrills throughout.
The bad guys, played by Steve Warren and Gary Fischer are stereotypical evil folk that chow down on humans. While I didn’t dislike their performances, I did feel that they were so over the top that I didn’t find them all that terrifying. Early on I kept hoping that someone would take an axe to these hillbilly psychos. The problem with both of them also comes from the script. Some of the supposedly creepy sequences and bits of dialogue were just funny, not at all scary. The line where Ivan (Warren) talks about this poor sap passing through his lips and out with his shit was hilarious. The less we could have known about these guys, the better it might have been, because these killers just became tedious. The several close-up shots while they were eating some kind of human stew and the hand washing habits seemed a bit lame and overused.
While I didn’t love the film, I have to mention that I think that there was a lot of heart put into Scarce. And after all, the idea of a food source becoming so hard to find that these people had to resort to cannibalism is interesting. But there was nothing original or fascinating about the characters here. While Geddes, Cook and Webb are likable enough, the script fell into clichés too many times. But the fact that both Geddes and Cook took so much of this film on themselves as writers, directors and lead actors, you have to kind of give them a break. This would have been a painfully difficult shoot. And with the bloody parts, I have to say that the special effects from The Brothers Gore is surprisingly good. Being that this is a low budget horror film, what they achieve with the ick factor is pretty impressive.
The idea of being trapped in a place that is foreign to you while people are planning to kill you is a frightening one. And while this film falls a bit short due to some not so scary bad guys and a script that isn’t scary, it is still worth seeing as a low-budget thriller. You’ve got to hand it to Jesse and John that they were able to get this film made. Not a great horror flick…hell, it’s not even all that good of a horror film. Yet it is still worthwhile to see what can be accomplished with a low budget and a dedicated cast a crew. The fact that they did what they did in this freezing cold weather is impressive enough to recommend. Especially if you have any desire to make a horror film.
Video / Audio
Video: This 16:9 Widescreen Presentation is not bad considering the budget. It sure looks better than many a direct to dvd feature I've suffered through.
Audio: I also thought the Dolby Surround 5.0 worked quite well for those lip-smacking, cannibal chewing sounds.
Now, I have to say that Frostbitten - The Making of Scarce (1:21:53) feels like Heart of Darkness compared to the film. This is a wonderful documentary that details the miserable weather and the constant problems that came with that. I liked this much better than the film itself. And I’ll be honest, after watching this I am really rooting for both Jesse and John to make another horror feature. What this cast and crew had to put up with really shows how much they love this genre. I also feel that this is an important watch for anyone who wants to or already makes low budget horror movies. You really get a sense of how much it takes to make something like this. While this didn’t necessarily make me appreciate the movie itself more, I would highly recommend checking out this DVD for this feature alone.
Next up we have Audio Commentary with the filmmakers John Geddes and Jesse T. Cook. This is a very good listen as they expand a little on what we saw with the documentary. I really liked both of these guys a lot and I am curious to see what they take on next time. Although I really suggest they try something where they might not freeze to death. Seriously, I was wincing in pain watching them trod through this winter wonderland barefoot.
And the Commentaries continue with Production and Set Designers Cody Calahan and Gavin Peacock. I also liked these two, but they are not necessarily the strongest at this commentary thing. It is more a case of them watching the movie and occasionally bringing up a story or two. There are way too many quite moments here. It would have worked better with a moderator.
Finally, we are offered a couple Trailers for “End of the Line” and “Durham County”.
Scarce offers up a few disturbing images and a creepy idea. I loved the fact that it took place in this freezing cold weather. But with all the good, the movie suffers from a couple of not so scary villains and a sometimes unintentionally funny script. The torture sequences sometimes worked thanks to some impressive (for the budget) special effects. But the real reason to check out this DVD is the wonderful behind the scenes which really answers the how and why this film was made.