The humble scarecrow. Not as much a horror film staple as you might think. In fact, the creepiest scarecrows of recent years actually appeared in television essentially for children – Dr Who. So I give the makers of ‘Husk’ some credit for attempting to bring back the scarecrow subgenre. And the scarecrows are, initially, quite scary. The film as a whole however, isn’t that good. However, I am going to talk about it for the next five pages so who’s the loser here? (Hint, it’s me) Also, Spoilers will obviously follow.
One Of The Best New Dr Who Episodes Ever
(Mostly Because Of Jessica Hynes, aka, Daisy From Spaced)
Horror film characters are never the brightest bulbs in a box of broken light bulbs but this group manage to set a possible new record and do something daft within the first 3 seconds of the film starting – ignoring a weather beaten sign with ‘Private Road’ written on in (possibly with the blood of a previous victim). The Gods have even tried to tell them what a bad idea proceeding down this road is by placing a mean eyed crow right on the top of the sign, and thus redefining the term ‘foreshadowing’ in one subtlety free swoop . I mean honestly, you wouldn’t ignore a sign directing you to Nilbog and just keep on driving would you? But maybe I’m being too harsh here, after all, our car full of heroes could very well be too involved in deep and meaningful conversations to notice such frivolities. Nope, they are discussing jumping off high things and strip poker – good group, good group.
Which Cardboard Horror Stereotype Is Which? It’s Like A Generic(er) Guess Who!
(Other One Is In The Film So Little I Couldn’t Find A Pre Death Picture )
The group can be immediately and without further ado broken down into the usual stock characters one finds gambolling around the fields of horror much like very dim cattle – The Tattoo Guy, The Nerd, The Jock, The Chick and The Other One. They are off to spend the weekend by a lake congratulating each other on their Dudeness or something.
The crows, upset by their failure to warn the humans off, commit mass suicide (a murder of crows indeed!) by flying into the windscreen, mashing themselves up and causing the car to crash. Our merry band of champions are all knocked out for a few minutes, and when they wake up, Other One has vanished. Maybe he didn’t want to die in such a mediocre film so he hitched across to the lake to be filleted by Jason Voorhees.
Strike me down, there’s no phone signal. Quelle surprise. Jock thinks Other One has gone into the corn, because…er, of He Who Walks Behind The Rows? The Chick is more concerned about the fact that The Jock’s friends don’t like her, could it be her incredible self-centredness that’s putting them off per chance? Jock and Nerd head into the corn, there Nerd is instantly struck down with chest problems. Why he went, and the Tattoo Guy stayed behind is anyone’s guess. My personal theory? They’re idiots. Our intrepid explorers, pausing only to impart to us that The Nerd considers Alexandra to be an exotic name, soon stumble across a mail box, a rusted up car, and then a scarecrow, each one more creepily designed than the last to scream, ‘Turn back, turn back now!’. Naturally, they don’t and head towards the Granddaddy of creepily designed things, an old farm house straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Chick necks some pills, why is not clear and it is never explained, it’s not so much of a character trait as a question. She sees a boy in the corn and freaks out. Tattoo Guy doesn’t see him. Now, if he had seen her take the pills, he could have accused her of being crazy, but they don’t, so they don’t so that bit it just fucking pointless.
The Nerd and The Jock go into the house where even a person with no eyes or brain could instantly see that no one has lived there for a very long time. Still takes Nerd a couple of minutes to figure that out though, if this dolt is the brains of the operation, these guys are screwed.
The Chick comes across a scarecrow half lying out of the cornfield. Her first instinct is to look inside its head sack (As you do. Also, oo-er Missus) where it appears there is the remnants of a human head inside. Cue screamage. Tattoo Guy doesn’t bother to look himself, a gesture that would have taken all of one minute, just believes her and they barrel into the corn to join the rest of Team Fucking Stupid. Look, they already stated there’s a garage 4 miles away. Surely the sensible option would have been for two of them to walk to the garage and two of them to stay with the car, waiting for the missing person to return/help to arrive? Jock says it takes him 47 minutes to run a mile, I’m pretty sure I can walk a mile in less time. I don’t know, what with The Nerd not being smart and The Jock sucking at running, these are useless horror film clichés.
The Nerd and The Jock (if I can even call them that anymore, betrayers) find the Other Guy in the upstairs of the house. It appears he bypassed a Rob Zombie film set on his way here and is now looking vacant, bloody and suffering from a severe case of horrible rusty nails embedded in his fingersitis. He is working the world’s loudest sewing machine and stitching together a charming burlap sack head. It’s basically the world’s worst sweat shop.
Wonder If His Favourite Band Is Nine Inch Nails. Ha. Wit.
(Felt Sorry For Other Guy So Gave Him His Own Picture Anyway)
The Chick gets captured and slashed badly by some fair amount of ninjaing from the scarecrows pretty much immediately (maybe they can sense ovaries). Jock and Tattoo Guy find her strung up upside down and very dead. Guess we’ll never know whether the pills made her an annoying shrew, or that was just her. The scarecrows chase the group to the relative safety of the farmhouse and are now stuck there. Everyone appears to have forgotten about the possessed guy upstairs…Oh wait, he’s gone. Still, no one seems to give a shit.
Tattoo Guy is incredibly sensitive to his friend’s loss and describes her death in front of him in, loving, grisly detail. He is then surprised when Jock tells them they are sooo not BFFs anymore, flounces off, and takes Nerd with him outside to explore. Left to his own devices, Tattoo Guy produces some sort of magic lighter than illuminates every room almost as if there were studio lights in the house. He finds little except a lot of dust and some photographs from the Summer Isle Harvest Festival Celebrations featuring Zach Braff.
Jock and Nerd stumble upon a car and waste time looking for the keys. We’ve already seen that Tattoo Guy at least has an idea about hot wiring a car but the Jock is still, like, totally mad at him so search for the keys they do. There’s a prone scarecrow lying on a work bench, and oddly enough they don’t immediately chop it up into tiny pieces. It has been established by now that the scarecrows are evil you fools. But no, Nerd gets attacked and then… a physic flashback vision thing…eh? He sees the previous owners of the house, a dickhead of a farmer and his two sons, the Good One and the Gimpy One. Good One is adept at slicing up a pig, Dad tells him he loves him, in a lovely touching moment, what with the pig guts and all. He definitely doesn’t love Gimpy One, who can’t slice a pig. Parental logic, it’s the best.
Tattoo Guy now thinks he is an episode of Finders Keepers and ransacks the kitchen. He wins though, as he finds the car keys. Sadly at this moment Neil Buchanan doesn’t leap out to tell him he’s won a state of the art Sony PlayStation. But something is watching him so he grabs a knife and runs outside to join the others…wait, no he doesn’t, he’s a fucking chump and runs upstairs to lock himself in the death room. The Chick turns up, all corspefied and such and sits herself down at the sewing machine where she proceeds to hammer the nails into her hand, a la Other Guy. Tattoo guy doesn’t try to take the hammer away from her or anything but cries and whines at the door for rescue. Guess none of those Eastern symbol tattoos on his arm mean ‘bravery’ then. Escape via window is his only option. Only at the beginning of this film were the Tattoo Guy and Other Guy discussing their love of jumping off high things. Now Tattoo Guy is too afraid to do it. The film takes the one characteristic it gave him and pissed on it. Bravo.
Jock has now been driven up the wall, across the ceiling and down the other wall by all of these events and won’t let the others leave without the putrid bloody body of his girlfriend. He saw her dead, he knows she’s dead, he’s aware of all the weird supernatural bullshit going on but he still thinks there’s a chance. They’d only been going out 5 months, Jesus.
Nerd has another vision after being hypnotised by a crow…I think. Well, it’s no less stupid than anything else on display here. He sees the two farmer’s sons again. Good One doesn’t like Gimpy One’s scarecrow making abilities and is stabbed with a pitchfork for his constructive criticism. I can’t believe this family has grown up together and never realised the Gimpy One was a mental. Ah well.
“Hey! Hey Fred, I Just Hypnotised This Stupid Human. That’ll Teach Him To Say Ki-Ora’s Too Orangey For Crows”
Nerd is captured, and like The Chick before him, is strung upside down, ready to be gutted. Obligingly, the scarecrow Freddy Krugers him all over the shop. He is saved by the Jock, avec axe and is taken back to the farm house where he reveals to the others about his visions (he leaves out the bit about being hypnotised by crows though; he doesn’t want to look stupid).
Jock, proving the point that when any character in a horror film gets hold of an axe they turn into a third Jack Nicholson, barrels back into the house to face down the farmer’s son they keep seeing everywhere (the fact that he’s a ghost doesn’t at all hinder his desire to kill it). Tattoo Guy takes this opportunity to go fully Lord of the Flies and tries to convince The Nerd they should flee leaving The Jock behind. Why they couldn’t just knock him out and take him anyway is beyond me. Nerd is loyal and goes to help Jock. Nerd and Jock go into the basement (always a stellar idea in horror films) where Jock is mystified by the sight of a strange object. ‘What’s that?’, he asks in wonderment, looking at some…empty cans. His Jockness has been restored.
Tattoo Guy, also known as Tattoo Bastard at this point, hot wires the car and drives off, abandoning his friends. What a prick. He doesn’t get far though, and crashes. Trapped in the car and set upon by scarecrows the only defensive move he can think of is raising his fists in the old ‘Put ‘em up’ gesture from 1940s cartoons. When one of the scarecrows smashes through the windscreen he pulls of its mask, rendering it dead, I think. It’s Other Guy! Tattoo guy looks pretty surprised to see him, as he had totally forgotten about his existence.
He is saved by the Jock, who actually seems like the one decent guy there, despite being terrible at running and a little unhinged. So decent is he, he even covers Traitor Guy as he runs back to the farmhouse like a lisping girl with pigtails. Jock immediately undoes all this good work by falling for the old ‘reappearance of the dead girlfriend who he doesn’t shoot on sight despite being dressed as a fucking killer scarecrow because he still thinks she’s in there somewhere’ routine. Oh, and now he’s dead.
Nerd has yet another vision and sees the farmers again. Gimpy One dresses the Good One (now deceased) up as a scarecrow and, I don’t know, figures their Dad will never ask after the son he actually likes ever again.
Tattoo Guy gets back (it appears the corn just sprung back after the car flattens it) and tells Nerd that Jock (aka their best hope of getting out of this hell) is dead. ‘Oh no, no’ moans The Nerd, realising in that one instant that Tattoo Guy is going to get them both killed by being consistently rubbish.
Nerd finally puts his brain in gear and, using a chess set to explain to Tattoo Guy, informs us that the evil spirit of the dead brother can only possess one scarecrow/ victim at a time, so when the spirit is running his demonic little sewing circle upstairs, the corn field will be evilless and allow them time to escape.
Pretty Sure This Scene Was A Two Scarecrow Attack. Hmm.
The plan involves fire and since Tattoo Guy dropped his lighter in the sewing room earlier he has to go and retrieve it. Jock Corpse is busy sewing his sack head and the lighter is just out of reach beyond the machine. However, Tattoo Guy decides to go down on his knees and stretch under the sewing machine to get the lighter, even though the sewing machine is in the middle of the room so he could have just walked round and picked it up. I swear, this guy is a complete mug. In fact Jock Corpse even stops his sewing and looks at him, as if to say, ‘I can’t believe I was ever friends with you, you utter, utter moron.’ Neither can I, Jock Corpse. Neither can I.
Our two survivors are ready to escape; they plan to race out of the field burning it as they go. Seems to me if removal of the sack masks renders the scarecrows useless they could have also smashed up the sewing machine, but whatevs.
Only Spools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Thread. Sewing Puns, The Last Bastion Of Comedy
Because Tattoo Guy spent so much time fannying about getting the lighter the Jock scarecrow is complete before they are able to out there amazing plan into action (fire in a corn field is easy to control right?). Nerd and Tattoo guy split up, as the scarecrow can only go after one of them as a time. Tattoo Guys gets it first, as Jock scarecrow attacks him and he ends up impaled on a handy sticky out bit of fence that you only find in horror films.
Nerd doesn’t fare much better and is captured by Smiley Face scarecrow (the original one), he dragged off, yet again, to the corn circle where this all started years ago, although the corn is still all flattened like it was yesterday. Whilst Smiley Face scarecrow slices up Tattoo Guy he leaves Nerd long enough to have another vision and formulate a plan a la the A Team. While there isn’t enough seemingly useless bits and pieces lying around to build a fully armoured car he does learn that the very pitch fork used to kill the farmer’s son is still handily lying around. He attacks and stabs the scarecrow numerous times but doesn’t remove the mask, which we’ve establishes stops the fucking things in their tracks. Sigh. He is promptly recaptured but Tattoo Guy used the last of his strength and grabs the scarecrow allowing Nerd to flee.
Nerd pegs it and gets right to the edge of the field (conveniently right at the spot they left their car) Also conveniently right at that moment another car arrives and pulls up. The couple gets out and starts calling. Nerd can’t speak or even drag himself all the way out of the field. I’m sorry, I don’t care how exhausted/chest painy you are. You are going to dig down into your very last reserves of energy and get the fuck out of that field. And muster the necessary ability to call for help. Especially when you see the scarecrow throw you a jaunty wink and snuggle right down next to you in order to trap the new arrivals. But no, he just lies there looking gormless and leads the couple right to certain death. Possibly. The film ends before this happens.
Well, Wouldn’t YOU Try To Warn People Away From This?
Husk is not (despite my vehement bitching) an awful film per se. It’s more just…there. Story, direction, script – it all just exists, to a totally indifferent world. The characters are painfully underdeveloped, although I don’t even know why I’m even surprised at that anymore. The scarecrows are at first unsettling, but grow increasingly dull. And since I’m an over analytical prick there’s a lot of unanswered questions: What happened to the father of the sons? Why did The Nerd get physic visions? Are all the other scarecrows victims? Victims no one ever searched for? How does the corn keep growing without anyone to tend to it? Do the scarecrows control the crows? If not, what the hell is with the crows? If the characters were more engaging, the film were scarier, maybe these questions wouldn’t matter so much. But since that’s not the case there’s nothing to do except pick holes in everything. It’s not so hideous that I won’t recommend it, it’s worth a watch. Just the one though.
That was a lot of writing. Congratulations if you made it all the way to the end. And thanks if you did.