HE’S OUT THERE
“Terror is lurking.”
Director: Quinn Lasher / Writer: Mike Scannell / Cast: Yvonne Strahovski, Anna Pniowsky, Abigail Pniowsky, Ryan McDonald, Justin Bruening, Julian Bailey.
Body Count: 2
Originally slated for a theatrical release (under the title Scarecrow), this part-slasher home invasion flick ended up dropping on to DVD with a name change for director Dennis Iliadis as well. Beware some spoilers.
In a similar vein to Hush, He’s Out There plays out like the third reel of any given stalk n’ slasher, once the string of luckless victims are done away with and the masked killer goes up against his main foe. In this case, said foe is perfect mom Laura (Strahovski – who played a sexy serial killer in Dexter), who drives out to the family’s lakeside weekend cottage with her two young daughters, with dad following a few hours behind because of some business meeting.
The only neighbor springs up to help with a dodgy padlock and a couple of sentences about the boy who used to live in the family’s house who disappeared without a trace. Mom unpacks, the kids run and play and find a string trail that leads them into the woods where (revealed later), they find a creepy tea party setup, and younger daughter Maddie eats one of the cupcakes, which makes her sick. She throws up a tiny note with ‘hello’ written on it.
It dawns on Laura that they’re not alone in their tranquil surroundings and the fear kicks in. Many an IMDb review bemoans that squealy children as a major downer, but I didn’t mind them so much. There’s a reason females are always tormented in movies like this, if all the genders were switched you’d have the same reviewers calling the characters pussies for not facing off directly with the killer. The kid in The Babadook is also a thousand times worse.
When dad shows up, he’s also lured into the trees to meet a nasty end, as does the neighbor, who returns later and finds an abandoned car, leaving mother and daughters to fend for themselves when the masked fiend breaches the house. In a non-turn of events, he is the missing kid, he has no apparent motive other than some bizarro tea party mock-up with real body parts, but has been watching them come and go for years, planning his attack, which is a creepy little touch.
The film comes to an efficient showdown that doesn’t drag itself out too much, but why she didn’t reverse the fucking car over him when she had the opportunity is a mystery perhaps left for some far-off sequel in which teens come to explore the murder site and, well, you know…
Derivative in the extreme; There is nothing to be seen here you haven’t seen before, just tossed around the salad bowl and served in a different order. Higher than average production values crank things upward enough to make it worth your while, even if there are zero surprises and a lot of reliance on cliches and ridiculously good fortune for the maniac.