SyFy channel original movies aren't generally considered to be gems. Usually, they're schlocky fun at best, and middle of the road dreck at worst. But director Sheldon Wilson actually manages to make a tight little horror tale out of Scarecrow, with decent tension, a few good scares, solid performances, and much better than average CG effects.
Aaron (Robin Dunne) is a school teacher who, by way of detention, takes a bunch of recalcitrant high school students to an old farm, in order to disassemble a historic scarecrow there and take it in to town for their annual scarecrow festival. How this would work in any kind of real life situation isn't explained, but it works well enough that we forget about the implausibility after a bit. Soon after he arrives, the owner of the farm Kristen (Lacey Chabert), who also happens to be Aaron's ex-girlfriend, shows up. She's been out of town, and decided to visit the old homestead, and maybe move back. The two have an awkward reunion, exacerbated by another ex of Kristen's showing up unexpectedly.
But soon enough, high school kids start getting drug into the corn field and killed by a beastly scarecrow type creature. Even though it's generally a mistake to show the creature early on, and in direct light, Wilson pulls it off here, mostly because the CG work is exceptional for a low budget feature like this one. It's clear that the creature is digital, but it looks very good, moves naturally, and is quite creepy.
At this point, the film becomes something of a chase movie. The group moves from the farmhouse, to the barn, to the woods, to another farm, to a dock, all the while losing members here and there to the scarecrow. There are some pretty good character dynamics going on. The performances are good, and for the most part the story works. There were a few setups that never paid off, and a couple of instances of blatant backstory database dumps. But all in all the plot is focused and rolls forward methodically.
Scarecrow is no masterpiece, so don't get me wrong. It's not breaking any new ground and isn't particularly inventive or unique. But it's solid. Chabert and Dunne have good chemistry, and are both committed to their roles and lend convincing authenticity to the goings on. The young actors portraying the high schoolers all do quite well, even though their characters are somewhat stereotypical.
The film isn't fantastic, but it displays a concern with craft and story that is often lacking with much horror these days. Recommended.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. It's bright and clear during the day scenes, and appropriately shadowy at night. There is some aliasing that appears from time to time, but it is mild and fleeting.
Audio is Dolby digital 5.1 channel, and sounds quite good. Plenty of creepy rustling and subtle creature noises. No hiss or other problems are evident, and the dialogue is always clear. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included.
Sadly, there are no extras included.
As I said, Scarecrow is not a breakthrough event in horror cinema. But it is a well-made film with a decent story, good performances, nice effects (both CG and blood and gore effects) and decent scares. Even though it won't change your life, it's worth a look.