Have you ever been to a horror house and wondered if the dripping blood was real? Or maybe that skull was the first employee to have slacked off. Writer/director Jon Binkowski ponders those questions and makes them a reality in SCARE ZONE.
Just as new employee Daryl (Burns), starts working at Oliver’s (Needham) horror house, Scare Zone, the employees of the venue go missing one by one, with a sinister figure lurking behind every corner. Is it a part of the show or something more disturbing?
SCARE ZONE is a nostalgic romp, harking back to teen movies of the noughties, such as American Pie and Van Wilder, where teenagers partied hard and awkwardly navigated their way into adulthood. The movie provides this and more, with a murder mystery plot that is fast-paced, creative and engaging to the end.
The aforementioned mystery component of the film is a fun motif despite its predictability, and the various red herrings are also amusing nevertheless. The noughties tropes are also a welcome ingredient, with frat-boys, ditzy girls, goth chicks and geeks offering a throwback for a specific generation who wreaked havoc during the early 2000s.
The music offers more appeal with its distinct alternative stylings, providing an effective soundscape to underpin the horror. Furthermore, Binkowski has created a film with solid production value, filmed on the Universal Horror House lot, with impressive practical special effects.
One issue with the film, however, involves character subtext that comes across as intentionally provocative, and perhaps insensitive to some vulnerable viewers. And without revealing any spoilers, the story leans on depression and mental illness as a motive for various criminal acts.
While it could be argued that the finale is rushed, the film does offer a rewarding payoff with a cheeky final twist that will have some viewers kicking themselves for succumbing to many of the red herrings.
Suffice to say that SCARE ZONE is a well-paced horror that should keep viewers on their toes. It's chock-full of laughs, jump-scared and plenty of kills. The story is creative and clever and is well worth a look. Available on the Tubi streaming service.
Note: Scare Zone's worldwide release is 2022, however its production dates back to 2009.