- Directed by B. Harrison Smith
- June 28, 2022 (US)
A “Create Your Own Urban Legend” project gets out of hand for a group of teenagers as they attempt to get “likes” and go viral with it.
Where the Scary Things Are is a horror film with something to say. That places it among a large group of horror movies these days as many are released with a message of some sort to convey. Some are better than others. The most recent Black Christmas is the worst that I have seen while the great George Romero did it best with the softest touch. As it is this movie didn’t shove your figurative face in its message like you would a pet that made a mess on the carpet though it is not nearly as gentle as other stories.
Here the message appears to be the dangers of children chasing fame on social media and how it can have disastrous outcomes. It is an empty and ultimately unfulfilling pursuit that leads to nothing substantive.
How it accomplishes this is through the use of a monster that our cast of characters comes across. Ultimately in the narrative the children are the monsters as they pull out all the stops with what they have in order to achieve the pointless popularity of social media. The kids in this movie are all genuinely unlikable characters. Though not all are irredeemably unlikable.
The children being the monsters though gets a little lost at points as B. Harrison Smith tries to stretch out the content of a much shorter film into something that justifies being called a movie. I don’t think there was enough meat in Where the Scary Things Are to justify 90 minutes. You could’ve trimmed out some of the scenes and brought the movie probably down to close to an hour and had a much tighter and more focused film with the message being much clearer.
While the events of the story are all set off by a school project, from the beginning of the film they were trying to get popular online. Perhaps explore why these kids were so empty inside as to be so focused on social media in order to have substance rather than filler.
What is going on (or not going on) in their lives to have them seek validation from strangers? As it is we only get brief glimpses into their lives. That would have given more to fill the time and worked with the message.
Another issue is that there were a few too many characters. I would’ve eliminated some of the children as the number of kids alone prevented adequate characterization in the limited runtime. And I am left thinking this might be in part why we get so little on why they are the way they are.
And because of that the personalities bordered on interchangeable. Perhaps it is the acting. I’m not sure how experienced any of them are but it felt like I was watching the table read at points and not the actual film. I know this is low budget but in low budget acting is key as performance is needed to help get past any budgetary shortcomings.
Ayla (Selina Flanscha) probably was the best done of the cast of characters and could be described as the alpha monster. She was clearly the leader of the group, but her character was extremely aggressive to the point that you had to wonder how she got anybody to come around her. A pretty face and nice boobs will pull any teenage boy in but anyone that is as nasty as Ayla unless she had a lot of material stuff to bribe people with or was putting out like a broken vending machine would soon be very isolated.
The monster wasn’t bad looking. I’m a fan of practical effects so if there’s ever a movie monster and it’s not CGI I give the film 10 bonus points just for that. It looks like it should be an urban legend.
I think Where the Scary Things Are could’ve benefited from one more edit on the script and a better budget. As it is it’s not bad but it’s nothing that will blow you out of the water. Low-budget horror fans will enjoy but maybe not the general viewer.