Director: Lucy Townsend
Cast: Alice Macguire, April Hughes, Tom Child, Jessica Sargent, Ben Gilbert, Martin Challinor, Rowena Diamond, Richard Warrick and Emily Carding
Plot: A trainee hairdresser (Macguire) is caught between trying to convince her boyfriend (Child) to not move to London and fending off a horde of possessed scareycrows.
The Townsends have made a name for themselves in Devon by bringing the often-saved-for-London cinema experience to their neck of their woods. Armed with a creative eye and more ambition than most, the Townsends have proven themselves a force to be reckoned with in the South West of England’s film world. With Deadly Intent, they brought a straight paranormal horror to the table. Now Scareycrows (producer Diana Townsend’s own daughter, Lucy, taking the helm), sees a new form of horror enter the Townsend filmography: the B Movie comedy. Played for laughs rather than scares, Scareycrows is an entertaining thrill-ride, like nothing the Devon film world has seen before.
Much like Deadly Intent, Scareycrows doesn’t so much push the boundaries of the sub-genre, as much as lovingly re-create it. It feels like both the director Townsend and the producer Townsend proving that whatever the big-wigs in London can do, the South West can do better. We are introduced to several colourful characters and, after some development, watch their lives get ripped apart in traditional horror fashion. Horror aficionados might be slightly put off by the film’s unwillingness to move from stock tropes, but they must admit their satisfaction at the fact that these tropes are done well. The lead cast here are bustling with bite. Even the ones not blessed with a gripping back-story, are either charmingly likeable or purposefully hateable. One particularly interesting character is April Hughes local bitch, introduced by accidentally (arguably) killing her best friend’s cat, but then a jump in time, revealing she has ended up paralysed and bound to a wheelchair. It creates this unique sensation of being unsure your feelings for this character, as she progresses through the plot. But across the board, every actor hasn’t got too much to complain about. Even the red shirts are bursting full of life from Jimmy The Bee Bennett’s over-enthusiastic bouncer, to James Bush’s constantly singing wannabe rocker. Maybe best of all is Emily Carding’s over-the-top salon owner, the kind of crazed character you cannot wait for a Scareycrow to get its hands on. The writing is smart enough to make sure everyone is developed to the point where guessing the order of their demise is pleasingly tricky. And then it is simply a case of unleashing chaos. Again, horror fans might not be too pleased that sometimes it seems that the film isn’t even trying to be scary, the Scareycrows coming across as zombies taken back to the drawing board. But the kills are good fun, characters getting axes sunk into their heads and impaled. There is one particularly strong moment, where one main character is killed off and Richard Warrick’s reaction to her death is the best gag of the entire 71 minute running time. Then there are moments that simply impress by being far from what you would expect from the indie film scene. A final fight in a scrapyard involving a digger is a great surprise and a strong way to wrap the film up. Like Deadly Intent, there isn’t too much to moan about, other than what isn’t there: a strong jump scare wouldn’t have gone amiss and the ending wraps itself up too quickly. But the entertainment values make the remaining story an excessive amount of fun.
Final Verdict: The Townsends score another big win for Devon with this entertaining B Movie horror comedy.