Scarecrow County is John Oak Dalton’s second film as a director. I haven’t seen his first, The Girl in the Crawlspace but I have seen several he wrote for Mark Polonia including Shark Encounters of the Third Kind and Amityville Island. That and the rather tired killer scarecrow plot were not good omens. However, I did notice this had picked up some good reviews from its limited self-release last year and decided to take a chance.
Scarecrow County opens with a pair of idiots messing with a Ouija board and conjuring up an unfriendly entity. They end up dead and their house burnt down. Thankfully this isn’t done with CGI but what looks like footage of a firefighter’s training exercise.
Librarian Winnie (Chelsi Kern) finds a journal among a collection of books donated to the library. It belonged to Joey Gibbs, a gay teen who killed himself years before. This news is not well received by his old schoolmates, one of whom is Winnie’s father Brownie (Tom Cherry). It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that they start dying off, starting with Si (Jeff Shull).
Dalton’s script will be familiar to horror fans, especially if they’ve seen The Dark Night of the Scarecrow. But he’s added an interesting assortment of characters that includes Winnie’s sister Zoe (Rachael Redolfi) an agoraphobic cartoonist who talks to her character Fantomah, who answers her in the voice of Erin R. Ryan (Her Name Was Torment 2, Babysitter Massacre). There’s also Marlys (Erin Hoodlebrink) Zoe’s agent and Prentiss (John Bradley Hambrick), Si’s son who got back from Afghanistan just in time for his father to turn up dead. Watch for another Polonia regular Jeff Kirkendall (Frozen Sasquatch, Return to Splatter Farm) and familiar genre faces Joe Kidd (Betsy, Scarewaves) and Joe Sherlock (Abomination: The Evilmaker II, Housebound) in small roles.
The rash of killings is mostly predictable although it does rope in a few unsuspected people to run up the death toll. The killings are shot with some odd coloured lighting which contrasts with the drabness of the town itself. Unfortunately, they aren’t shot with much in the way of effects or even blood.
However, what will bother more viewers is the film’s lack of a conventional ending. Scarecrow County doesn’t end with the expected final showdown. It goes off in an unexpected direction, unexpected in part because it wasn’t mentioned at all during the film. While some viewers will find the ending interesting, a lot more will probably be upset at the way it’s pulled out of nowhere. Combined with the film’s lack of gore or anything offensive for that matter, the result is something that almost feels like a kid’s film.
While I’d certainly put Scarecrow County ahead of Dalton’s collaborations with Polonia, he still has a ways to go before I’d really call his movies good. Originally released on DVD by its producer, ITN has since picked it up.