Understand? Scarecrows are not to be messed with. Typically scarecrows come alive to kill people or worse--stalk them until they die in some other horrible way. Is it really a coincidence that the two most popular scary kids shows each had an episode devoted to scarecrows? No way.
This is why I was terribly excited to see Dark Night of the Scarecrow. I didn't know too much going in, only that it was a made for TV movie and that there was most likely a scarecrow involved. What I found upon viewing it however was that it's actually a much better TV movie than most all TV movies. That is a bold statement considering I've seen about 3 made for TV movies (One of them is 15 and Pregnant which wins every time) but just go with it. Dark Night of the Scarecrow doesn't feel weighed down by cheesy made for TV dialogue or real life issues. Sure it's light on actual scares and blood but hey--it's TV!
Bubba Ritter is one of those 36 year olds who has the mind of a child.
He finds comfort in playing with the children whom he sees as nothing less than his equals. The townspeople do not approve of this. Most notably this is the evil mailman Otis--who has now joined ranks amongst the other villainous mailmen of the entertainment industry.
Like the scary truck driver mail man in Funny Farm
Otis is appalled at Bubba and warns everyone that one of these days he's going to do something bad to one of those kids and that they'll be the only ones to stop him! Well, one day Bubba and his best friend Marylee go exploring in the magical garden of gnomes. Bubba is too afraid to sneak past the fence but Marylee proceeds and has a grand old time pretending to smoke a pipe with the lawn gnomes.
Then suddenly a mean and scary dog comes and Marylee is scared. She calls out to Bubba who finally crashes through the fence and tries to save her, while the lawn gnomes watch helplessly.
Next we see Bubba holding the limp body of Marylee and the whole town breaks out in Frenzy.
Otis and his buddies decide it's up to them to bring the justice and they set off with guns and dogs. Bubba's mother in a desperate attempt to save him, tells him to play the hiding game, while the men continue their search. Soon they come across a scarecrow and after careful investigation find that the scarecrow is really Bubba.
Then, firing squad style, the men shoot Bubba.
Immediately after, they get a call claiming that the search has been called off--Marylee is okay after all, and apparently Bubba had saved her life. After a court hearing gone wrong, the men get off...or do they? It's not long after this when each man starts to see a mysterious scarecrow in their fields. And they all mysteriously are killed one by one. Hmmmmmm!
I don't usually do a play by play synopsis like that but I found it necessary to stress the importance of how sad that opening scene is. It takes about 30 minutes for the entire beginning of the story to be settled, but it's a completely frown inducing 30 minutes if you ask me. Poor Bubba. That's the thing about Dark Night of the Scarecrow--it's really fucking sad. Sure, I like to think I reserve all my sadness and frowning for animal deaths and when strong black men cry, but Bubba? HE'S INNOCENT! Dark Night of the Scarecrow surprised me in this way. How often do I really care about made for TV movie characters? Not very often.
Unfortunately what I like most about Dark Night of the Scarecrow is also what I like least about it in terms of its success as a horror movie. Here's the thing people, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is not very scary. There's some creepiness going on, like when a random scarecrow shows up in a field--but it's not acted upon.
We don't get very close to the scarecrow or anything. Likewise the death scenes are pretty muted. Yes it is a made for TV movie, but we see nothing at all. Although I will say I like the cutaway scenes to something suggestive. Like a big plop of jam preserves on a plate when a guy gets massacred by a farm machine.
I guess I just expected more thrills and chills. I expected us to see a scarecrow wandering around a bit and being all gross and scare-crowy. I don't even know what that means, but for review sake let's just say that means he's limping and dropping hay behind him--and also that he might be smelly.
So, overall I think Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a very well done made for TV movie. Sub par- horror film and I'm a bit confused why horror fans are so quick to jump on this love wagon. Love wagon riders, can I have your thoughts please?