'Scare Package' Review: A Hilarious And Smart Horror Anthology [Sitges 2019]

Horror anthologies are a tricky thing. On the one hand, the variety of stories means you don't have to wait long to find a segment you like. On the other hand, one or more bad segments and you lose the audience. Then there's the overarching narrative that ties everything together and that must be equally compelling, and if you're doing a horror-comedy, you need to balance both genres. Thankfully, Scare Package effortlessly navigates both its horror and comedy roots, offering distinctively entertaining and clever segments that both subvert and pay homage to known horror tropes.Scare Package comes from writers and directors Aaron B. Koontz, Courtney and Hillary Andujar, Chris McInroy, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, and features the directorial debuts of Noah Segan and Baron Vaughn. The film involves seven segments and a wraparound, each involving a different horror sub-genre and tacking overused genre tropes. While the movie is never quite scary, it is hilarious and disgusting – fans of gore and slimy practical effects will go nuts for this movie.The meta horror anthology wastes no time getting to the juicy stuff. The movie opens with a segment aptly titled "Cold Open," by Emily Hagins. In it, a stock background character named Mike – seriously – Myers (Jon Michael Simpson), whose job is to make sure that horror movies goes exactly as planned. The thing is, Mike desperately wants to do more than just points signs to the abandoned insane asylum the wrong way, or cut power, or place demonic toys in the attic just right; Mike wants to help someone for a chance and maybe even make it to the end of the movie. It's a hilarious way to start a consistently funny anthology, which riffs on horror villains and the horror characters who are often too oblivious to what's going on. Right after, we're introduced to the movie's framing device, Aaron B. Koontz "Rad Chad's Horror Emporium," which takes place at a video rental store. The titular Rad Chad (played by Jeremy King), is a Joe Bob-type horror obsessive fan training a new employee, and showing him the VHS tapes that make up each segment. The subsequent segments are as wild as the filmmakers in charge of it. "One Time in the Woods" is a gross and gooey camp trip that goes terribly wrong, and it is absolutely hilarious. Noah Segan makes his directorial debut with "M.I.S.T.E.R." which is a fun and twisty take on the very dude-heavy monster movie. Established production designers Courtney and Hillary Andujar make a post-modern feminist slasher body horror that (rightly so) has terrific production design and practical effects in "Girl's Night Out of Body". Anthony Cousins' "The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill" is an outstanding and absolutely delightful parody of slasher sequels and death scenes that always prove to not be fatal. Baron Vaughn's directorial debut "So Much To Do" serves as a great backdoor pilot to a TV show that also makes fun of spoiler culture. And finally, Aaron B. Koontz returns to tie everything up in a neat, bloody, self-aware little bow in "Horror Hypothesis," which riffs on meta horror movies like Cabin in the Woods and ScreamScare Package is definitely not a scarefest. You probable won't have nightmares because of it, but you will definitely have some of the jokes and surprises imprinted on your head for a while. That being said, the segments have great practical effects that will please fans of gore. Even if not all segments are equally as good, there is a consistency in tone that keeps the unique and varied segments coherently funny. A common problem with horror anthologies is that the segments feel too disjointed and unconnected. That is not a problem here, as the movie's framing segment "Rad Chad's Horror Emporium" is not only fun but allows each segment to neatly roll into the next, while making every segment feel essential. This is a ridiculously self-aware movie, but one which never becomes a joke. Audiences should also keep their eyes out for a fantastic cameo in the movie that shall remain unspoiled.Scare Package is destined to become a midnight crowd favorite, a consistently funny love letter to the genre, made by people who love horror for people to love horror./Film Rating: 8 out of 10