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Husk (Brett Simmons, 2011)


The underutilized subgenre of the killer scarecrow movie gets a mildly enjoyable entry with Brett Simmons’ Husk. In this predictable but well-mounted film, a group of college-aged kids are stranded near a mysterious farm house after an automobile accident. Before long, they begin to fall prey to a series of murderous scarecrows, who, like the film’s director, waste little time in getting down to business. Slasher films generally are improved when they jettison or at least minimize lengthy exposition, and Husk sets up its supernatural scenario from its very first moments, which see the characters crashing their car due to a bloody flock of crows. From here, a scant amount of time is spent on characterization as the characters take refuge in the only farm house in sight. One guy has asthma, one victim is a female. The rest are anonymous fodder. Simmons focuses instead on creating atmosphere, making sure the endless corn field that these victims must traverse is a thing of menace.


Given that the cast of Husk is forgettable, it is fortunate that the scarecrows that stalk this farmstead are memorable villains. They never talk, and are largely explained through a series of clumsy flashbacks, but they make for a visually striking foe, usually popping up when least expected. Since the setting consists only of a corn field and a farmhouse, it becomes genuinely impressive that Simmons manages to wring a series of fresh jump scares from such a thin premise. There is some grisly imagery present in Husk, but the film is decidedly not an entry in the torture porn genre. Suspense is valued here over gore, and it must be noted that the brief final scene manages to be genuinely eerie.


William Wesley’s 1988 cult classic Scarecrows is the obvious high water mark as far as this kind of film goes, and Husk is hardly a patch on that unremittingly bleak movie. That being said, it manages to pass its brief eighty-two minute run time without testing one’s patience much. As a modestly-budgeted direct-to-video horror feature, Husk has a good sense of its place in the cinematic world and succeeds admirably enough within those parameters. To chide it for not being more ambitious or more accomplished would probably miss the fact that director Simmons has established himself here as a promising talent to watch in the genre.



Jeremy Heilman