Wednesday, April 15
Directed by James I. Nicholson
84 Minutes / Artistic License, Inc. / 1.33:1 Full Frame
A group of vacationers planning on horseback riding end up hiking miles into the Arizona desert after their truck breaks down. They come upon a ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere and are confronted by a slightly crazy man who prattles on about people either dying or disappearing mysteriously, wheat fields once habituating the area, and the scarecrows dotting the plains.
Blowing the guy off as a nut, our hikers carry on and eventually decide to set up camp near one of the hay-stuffed men. Two of the female vacationers get fed up and decide to go back. As night settles in, the scarecrow climbs off his cross and joined by a few of his owl-frightening friends, begins to stalk the group throughout the next several days.
Death by character development in this extremely low budget shot-on-video feature. The film gets much more-or-less right, despite the three harsh reviews on the IMDB, but the problems are fatal. The acting is surprisingly fine with the mostly one-off amateur cast never sounding off key. The pace is also even until the latter half when the film loses focus.
The biggest problem is the lack of actual horror and original ideas. We get a lot of development for people we undoubtedly know are doomed cattle by the conclusion. Fighting couples uncertain whether to take the plunge, budding relationships, and a married man experiencing tensions with his mistress. It's all there and it almost seems like a compromise between the director/writer and cast. Even slim on simple blood stains, we get no gore, and honestly the film probably would have been salvageable if the goods delivered on that front. As it stands, it's a huge waste of potential. And no, it's not 2004's Dark Harvest, another film about a killer scarecrow with the same title.
VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 2/10 (the on-location recording is awful)