HUSK: Movie Review

HUSK Movie Review
HUSK (Brett Simmons, 2010)

Review by Jason Lees,

From the poster and teaser trailer for After Dark Original’s HUSK, I thought I was in for another scarecrow slasher flick, and to be honest, that was fine by me. I’m a sucker for a killer dressed as my favorite denizen of Oz, so when the movie started, I sat back and got all high and mighty as I switched off my brain and readied myself for popcorn and cheese.

Oh, if I only had a brain.

HUSK starts off just as you’d expect. In the first twenty minutes, I smiled as I was treated to homage and tribute and what seemed like pure lifts from some horror staples of rural nightmares. We get visual allusions to not only TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE but to its remake and its remake’s prequel (not an easy task to accomplish, methinks) along with winks and nods to JEEPERS CREEPERS and CHILDREN OF THE CORN. I was getting a little too comfortable with just counting the references to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT when HUSK hit that all important twenty minute mark and shifted from giving me what I thought I wanted and started giving me something new. Basically, I had to get off my pompous high horse and start paying attention. Director/writer Brett Simmons had lulled me into submission by singing me a greatest hits lullaby and was now slapping me in the face. After paying its corn fed dues, HUSK truly takes off.

The story is based entirely in genre tradition. Attractive friends on a road trip (this time across Iowa) have car trouble (this time aviary road kill) and wind up looking for help where they shouldn’t. We’ve seen this before. Hell, like I said, this type of movie requires that, but where HUSK differs is that its characters don’t fall into easily defined stereotypes and don’t act as stupid as they are pretty. The jock isn’t an ass, he’s actually a good guy. The dark hero type is actually a bit of a wuss, and the geek with four eyes shows more spine than the bodies piling up between the rows of corn.

HUSK isn’t a film that relies on trick twists. The twist is that it slowly builds from the standard clichés into something really entertaining, and I’ll admit, damn creepy at times. Like I said, I’m a sucker for a psychotic scarecrow, and while there’s more to HUSK than just a masked killer, when that homicidal bird deterrent is on screen, HUSK truly works. We’re treated to long tension filled scenes of actual dread, not just sudden loud sound cues telling us it’s time to jump. We jump on our own.

On a side note, and this may be another reason I’m so digging this picture so much, corn fields have never looked so damned claustrophobic on film before. The setting is achieved so well that even non-genre films like FIELD OF DREAMS and David Lynch’s THE STRAIGHT STORY don’t do half the job that Simmons and crew pull off here. It’s something so hard to describe, but being alone on a road with nothing to see but rows of corn on either side of you can be maddening, even in the real world, let alone a reality where HUSK is out to get you.

And one character even gets to coin a phrase that I pray replaces Kevin Costner’s “Is this heaven…” line. I’ll be the first in line to buy a HUSK t-shirt that proudly quotes Simmon’s script: “The fucking corn… it’s EVERYWHERE!”

If you’re lucky enough to catch HUSK in its limited theatrical run, please do. It’s the most fun you’ll have watching scarecrows get ripped to shit since THE WIZARD OF OZ.

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