After Dark Films actually has a winner with a seemingly shocking and unoriginal movie. A group of friends travelling toward a vacation party spot along an endless Midwestern highway find themselves in a crisis when a murder of crows smashes into them, totaling their car. One of the group goes for help by travelling into the fields, but when he doesn't return, the rest decide they should go after him.
But wait. What's that in the field? A little boy? Or...
The great thing about Husk and its familiar setup is that it plays with the conventions a little bit. When Natalie (Tammin Sursok) the dependable hot one of the bunch is the first to be attacked by something in the field, we then wonder, "Well, wait? Wasn't she the lead? Then who's gonna' be the last one standing?" And until the end, the movie really does keep you guessing who's going to make it out alive.
There is actually a clever set of rules being used here that have to do with an ancient curse and how the corn field creatures carry out their killings and why. And with a movie like Husk, those nasty things can only be one thing: scarecrows: creepy, unnerving scarecrows.
There are a few things that don't totally work, here. For example, one character has expositional visions of what happened many years before that explain the history of the farm. It's a cheap trick and nonsensical in the telling of the story. Also, the kids do seem like they don't particularly like each other, but at the same time, even the most asshole-ish of the five (Wes Chatham) ends up being not as one-note as we would have believed.
But there are tons of things to like about this little gem: The cinematography by Marco Fargnoli is gorgeous. The editing by William Yeh keeps the scares and suspense going, and all of the actors are terrific. Sure, they aren't in the middle of a Tennessee Williams play, but they bring believability and naturalness to the characters. The rules of the killer scarecrows are interesting and, well, the scarecrows - with their blank faces and their "are they alive or aren't they" look - are truly frightening.
For a riff on a commonly told tale, this one was a breath of fresh, fun air. Just beware of that scarecrow with the smile sewn into its head wrap. *shivers*
Special Features are slim and include commentary and a short feature.