❉ A committed, low-budget chiller that will satisfy genre fans, writes Nick Clement.
Let’s Scare Julie is an efficient, low-budget chiller, featuring some fresh-faced talent and a cool shooting-style from debuting feature director Jud Cremata. This particular ghost story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but because of the full-on commitment from the game cast, and a dark sense of spooky fun arising from the topically-flavoured narrative, this small item from Shout! Studios will likely find an appreciative audience during our COVID-infested times of discovering new content in the comfort of our own homes.
The plot involves a group of teenage girls who decide one dark and stormy night, to play a cruel prank on a reclusive neighbour. This being 2020, smart phones and text messaging and video imagery are integral to the plot, with the added bonus that most of the film feels like it’s been accomplished in one, long, well-choreographed take, but if you’re paying close-enough attention to the technical particulars, you can see how they cleverly built-in some editorial cheats to keep the action flowing.
Things take a sinister turn when some of the girls head out to pull off their mean-spirited hazing and then don’t come back home; what’s actually going on in the house across the street? It’s up to one of the girls, played by Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, who also has to deal with her younger sister, to figure out what’s actually happening.
Cremata knows that the audience has seen films of this nature in the past, so he wisely spends a solid 20 minutes of the 85 minute running time allowing us to get to know the circle of friends who will all be tragically split apart, so part of the fun is seeing these callous mean girls act like a bunch of fools, only to have the tables turned on them.
The less you know about all of the particulars to the script, the better off you’ll be, and while Let’s Scare Julie certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel on any level, it’s a good-enough seasonal programmer that will satisfy genre fans. The film’s evocative one-sheet sort of promises a different film that what’s been delivered, but in the end, this is solid, small-scaled fun, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that photogenic Isabel May, who looks like a little Jennifer Lawrence in training, is being considered for bigger roles in bigger productions.
❉ Signature Entertainment presents Let’s Scare Julie on Digital HD, 21 December 2020. Let’s Scare Julie was written and directed by Jud Cremata, and stars Troy Leigh-Ann Johnson (On My Block), Isabel May (Young Sheldon) and Odessa A’zion (Fam).
❉ Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.
An earlier version of this review was originally published 29 Sep 2020.