Let’s Scare Julie is a bold one-take horror that is rife with tension thanks to its excellent young cast. While it is effective, it just doesn’t provide the audience with enough scares.
When a group of teenage girls set out to scare their reclusive neighbour across the street, they soon discover that sometimes things are better left alone. As each girl vanishes one by one the mystery of Julie’s origins unravels. These girls are about to discover the horrifying truth behind the girl who lives next door.
We start Let’s Scare Julie with a rather mean scare from our group and they have to battle a tad to make themselves likeable to our lead Emma. When their late-night prank on Emma goes awry. The group get to know the newcomer to the area with jokes and their toeing the line ribbing of each other. Taylor and Emma are cousins with Emma and her young sister Lily, moving in after the death of her father.
As Taylor takes control of the sleepover. She begins to share the story of the history of the house across the street where the mysterious Miss Durer a supposed witch lived when Emma and Taylor were youngsters. Since then a father and his daughter Julie have moved into the home and our thrillseeking/ harmless tormenters think they have found a new target to prank. Donning their Purge-Esque masks and a camera. They venture off across the road to see if they can get a good scare out of Julie. Emma decides to stay back to look after her sister and it is on the return of a panicked Paige is the girls’ world is turned upside down.
First and foremost, do not be swayed by the marketing. This is not the film that it is being marketed as and for a change that is a great thing. From the poster, you would think that these girls are going to cause harm to whoever is in the house. This isn’t that type of film at all and instead, we have a slow-paced tension-filled 80 odd minutes.
Experienced writer/director Jud Cremata takes the bold effort of making his low budget horror have the look of happening in real-time. This means other than a few well placed (albeit obvious) we know and feel as much as the characters do. This can be seen as being a tad gimmicky. Yet if done well, it has a tremendous effect on the audience. Let’s Scare Julie uses this technique very well. With Cremata and cinematographer, Chuck Ozeas have been very clever with their angles and shot choices as we get to see a camera move in ways that we normally wouldn’t. Especially in scenes where the cast is talking amongst themselves. The free-flowing nature of the camera in the opening half of the film provides a fresh feel to the film as albeit challenging. Isn’t overly seen in the horror genre.
The approach works here and happily for Let’s Scare Julie that is also thanks to the young cast who are game to go with the script. Their conversations are loose and feel real in comparison to other scripts that involve teenagers. This nature flow, allows the audience to feel at home with them, to be one of the gang. The added nature of the continuous take enhances this more so. When we get to scenes where our young gang are separated and panic is firmly set in the camera is feeling what they are feeling. The free-flowing nature is gone and quick movements come in instead. Continually moving and jerking as their woes and danger grow.
Sadly for Let’s Scare Julie, for all of the positives. There just isn’t quite enough going on here to fulfil all of the promises of the opening half. There are some scares and jumps here and there. But more are desperately needed to give the audience something to clamour to. We can handle a slow opening to get the basic premise and to get to know our young group and the home. But when the tension racks up we need something to happen instead of just more confusion for the girls.
If there had been one of two additional scares then this would be an excellent feature and quite the spooky, unnerving one for people on a cold winters night. Alas, it isn’t to be. However that doesn’t detract at all from all of the positives here in Let’s Scare Julie. While it isn’t a film for the horror fans who love scares left right and centre, it is certainly a decent throwback to where tension rules the film. A welcome surprise.
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