Scarred (2005)

Jon Hoffman
Dave Rock

Julian Berlin - Kim Hansen
Jonny Mack - Ben Hansen
Charity Shea - Alex
David Austin - Jesse
Maxine Bahns - Heather
Hannah Leigh - The Killer

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Independent

Running Time - 87 Minutes

Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - The Hansen family go on a camping trip to the woods. The trip isn't as peppy as it should be since daughter Kim (Julian Berlin) can't stand her new step-mom Heather (Maxine Bahns), who's half her father's age - believing Heather is only after the money. Her brother Ben (Jonny Mack) and Kim's best friend Alex (Charity Shea) want her to get over it, but Kim struggles with it - setting camp away from the married couple.

That very night, a good-looking park ranger named Jesse (David Austin) shows up and quickly tells the family some ghost story about a faceless woman who roams those very woods, murdering women to steal their pretty faces. Apparently this woman's mom had an affair with a dude with a skin disorder and she was born with the same one. The scorned husband, reminded by the affair whenever he looked at her, cut her face off before offing her mother and himself. Yeah, this is something every camper should hear the first night they're out there. Anyway, the family doesn't buy the story. Since this is a horror film, that means that the story is real and this faceless girl begins slaughtering the family one-by-one. Yawn.


STORY - SCARRED is pretty much a modern take on the 80s slasher. It has the crazy old guy who warns the campers about the danger of the woods. It has the run down shack in the middle of the woods that belongs to the killer, which happens to look like a shrine. You have the ghost story by campfire. And you have the indestructible killer who won't die.

So then you ask yourself: how did this all go wrong?

Well for starters, there's no nudity or sex in this film. Every slasher flick has to have at least ONE sex scene. We get a couple of dry humping stuff but no one gets to go all the way. Boo and hiss to that. Also, we don't even get to see any decent gore for the most part. Yeah there's blood and there's violence with a knife, but it's pretty tame for modern horror standards. I would think you would want to go gangbusters on a DVD feature. Apparently not!

Also, the narrative is pretty flimsy. For starters, the first act involves Kim hating her step-mother and pretty much ruining the morale of the family due to her inability to accept her into the family. Now I don't mind this sub-plot at all because it has the ability to create character amongst the participants. Especially the Kim character, who [as the main character] could have been probed and have a revelation that her anger towards Heather is due to the fact that she's feeling replaced by her dad. The writers could have gone a bit psychological with this, really creating depth that slashers are not usually known for. But instead, it's pretty much thrown out there out of nowhere and pretty much tossed away once Kim and Heather quickly get along. Not like it would have mattered anyway since Kim's dad and Heather get killed in the first act. Sometimes I wonder why this sub-plot was brought into the film to begin with when it has nothing to do with the rest of the film.

Also, Kim and the park ranger quickly have relations. Can we say "slut"? Also, Alex and Ben have relations as well. While the two are likable together, it just seemed forced - as if these two were single and automatically had to be thrusted [no pun intended] together. So things just randomly happened and there was nothing to really latch on to when it concerned the characters. That's not to say the characters were horrible. As a matter of fact, I actually dug them for the most part. It's just that they weren't really all that interesting. Even the writers/directors, Jon Hoffman and Dave Rock, admitted that they wished the characters were stronger. Well I'm glad they're honest with their product. That's why I'm not ripping this one a new one out of respect.

Also, the tale of how The Killer [which is her name - how clever] became a murderous mountain woman psycho is done through flashback and narration by Jesse. Instead of letting us watch for ourselves what happened, we have to be TOLD what happened as well. I just find that really annoying. My eyes and brains work fine, thank you. I think I can put two and two together and make four. I don't need a play-by-play.

And the last act is just ridiculous. Screaming, stupid character decisions, and an ending that made me roll my eyes and shake my head. It's so cliched that even cliches find it insulting.

DIRECTION - Hoffman and Rock do an okay job. It's pretty much a point and shoot affair as usual. The editing is decent but the pacing is off [that middle portion just dragged]. There's no tension. There's no suspense. The cinematography looks great though but it just lacked in the horror department. They were thisclose to making SCARRED work because I actually like the premise. But they just couldn't get there for whatever reason.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - Well we do get some face peeling via a knife by The Killer on some chicks. And Ben's legs and smashed by a rock. But besides that, pretty tame flick. Barely any sex [just dry humping and make out scenes] and the language doesn't really go further than "bitch". Eh.

ACTING - Not the greatest thespian work I've seen but I didn't think it was totally horrible. I thought Jonny Mack and Charity Shea were the top actors in the film as Ben and Alex respectively. They seemed more natural and they had sweet chemistry with each other. Julian Berlin was on-and-off as Kim. She seemed fine one minute and then really underact or overact the next. She really threw me off at times, at the point that I would kind of chuckle at her performance. David Austin pretty much used his looks to get him by as the park ranger. He wasn't terrible though, just not all that interesting to watch. And I thought Hannah Leigh did her best with The Killer character. All she did was kill people, dry hump Jonny Mack, and grunt. Alrighty then.

MUSIC - Pretty much your typical indie generic rock/metal soundtrack. It really wasn't all that great because I don't remember any of it.

is a film that could have been so much better than it actually is. Having a killer want to steal faces from pretty girls sounds a bit TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-ish, but I dig the premise anyway. Unfortunately the execution wasn't there at all. It's not WTF? material but it's not a film I can honestly recommend or say I would watch again.

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