Title: Husk

Director: Brett Simmons

Starring: Devon Graye, Wes Chatham and C.J. Thomason

Routinely overlooked by critics and award shows, horror movies have been showcased and honored over the past five years with production company After Dark Films annual film festival Horrorfest. Brett Simmons isĀ  one of the latest screenwriter-directors hoping to make a name for himself in the horror genre with his new supernatural thriller ‘Husk,’ which is one of the entries in this year’s festival. While aiming to stay away from making a purely slasher movie, and instead focusing on what people would do if a scarecrow suddenly came to life to take control of their bodies, Simmons’ final outcome unfortunately won’t scare audiences into being afraid of the decoy.

‘Husk’ follows five friends, including Scott (played by Devon Graye), Brian (portrayed by Wes Chatam), Chris (played by CJ Thomason), Brian’s girlfriend, Natalie (portrayed by Tammin Sursok) and Johnny (played by Ben Easter), as their car breaks down on the highway during the midst of their road trip. After discovering that Johnny is missing from the car, Scott and Brian journey into the corn field on the side of the road to not only find him, but to look for help as well

The two are thrilled when they discover a house in the middle of the field. However, they become dismayed when they find Johnny unresponsive in the sewing room, creating a scarecrow mask. Brian further becomes agitated when Chris finds them and tells him that Natalie is missing. While the three look for Natalie and try to fight off a now violent Johnny, Scott has visions of a family who once lived in the house. The three are left to figure out how the family relates to them not being able to enter the field without being attacked by scarecrows.

The supernatural horror film tries to take a unique approach to the scarecrow genre, as Simmons made the corn field haunted, instead of the house. Having the scarecrows hiding and only attacking Scott, Brian and Chris in the field finally answers the eternal question of why victims in horror films stay in one place and don’t try to run away from their attackers. Viewers will also be interested enough to wonder what happened between the family from Scott’s visions in the field, and if their violent tendencies towards each other created the scarecrow’s need to overtake people’s bodies and collect their souls.

However, ‘Husk’ ultimately fails to live up to the legacy created by After Dark Films and Horrorfest (also known as the ‘8 Films to Die For’ horror festival). While After Dark thrives on creating unique, high-quality films for Horrorfest, Simmons disappointingly failed to deliver a distinctive, developed and frightening scarecrow plotline. While it’s intriguing to see Scott, Brian and Chris fight the scarecrow, the fact that Simmons heavily focuses on the action sequences becomes redundant. To make the story more interesting, the writer-director should have better explained why Scott is having the visions of the family and how these visions are related to the scarecrow attacking the group of friends.

The lack of chemistry between the group of actors, particularly main performers Graye, Chatam and Thomason, also brought down the intrigue and suspense of ‘Husk.’ Even though Simmons failed to provide the actors with much of a backstory for their characters and a shared history and camaraderie, Graye, Chatam and Thomason still didn’t try to connect with each other, and seemed to care more about perfecting their action sequences. Since the film also doesn’t heavily feature a message reflecting a problem of today’s society that audiences can relate to, like ‘Children of the Corn’ did with children feeling the need to revolt against adults, ‘Husk’ would be more relevent if the actors connected. The audience surely won’t care what happens to Scott, Brian and Chris since the actors don’t seem to care what happens to them.

Overall, ‘Husk,’ which is based on Simmons’ Sundance acclaimed short film of the same name, failed to live up to its high expectations. Simmons had the potential to create a unique horror movie, as the scarecrow was able to secretly attack Scott and his friends in the field in order to take control of their bodies and souls. But Simmons mistakenly decided to focus entirely on cheap actions shots in lieu of developing an intense, emotional story, leaving audiences wondering why scarecrows are so frightening in the first place.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Husk Movie Poster
Husk Movie Poster

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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