Husk is a movie that wants to make you think, but the more you think about it, the more it will make your brain hurt. Here is a movie that would benefit from some camp and “fun factor”. Instead we get a film that takes itself incredibly seriously but poorly made. What we are left with is a movie that isn’t funny, scary, or on the whole entertaining. The audience will be confused for the first hour as what is going on isn’t explained, and then once it is explained, it makes even less sense than if we were told nothing at all.
Husk, at its core, uses a pretty familiar formula that can often work pretty well if done properly. It takes a group of five friends who get stranded in an unfamiliar and remote place, and suddenly find themselves under attack by supernatural forces. Scott, Brian, Chris, Natalie and Johnny are driving along when suddenly they hit some crows and crash the car. They black out and upon coming to their senses realize Johnny is gone. They find themselves in a cornfield, and upon searching for Johnny come across some strange and ominous signs. They find dead birds in the field, scarecrows which are actually dead bodies, and the words “Gen. 4:11” in reference to a Bible passage.
Scott and Brian go to find Johnny and stumble upon an old, decrepit house. Upon going inside they find Johnny sewing a scarecrow mask, looking rather zombified and unresponsive. He also has nails driven through his fingers. Meanwhile, Natalie is attacked by an unseen assailant, which is revealed to seemingly be the scarecrows themselves. I won’t reveal who these scarecrows are, as it is a major plot point in the film, and while the film doesn’t give a very satisfactory explanation, it would constitute a major spoiler alert. The rest of the film involves the three survivors (Scott, Brian and Chris) trying to figure out what exactly is happening and how to survive it.
One of the most obvious problems with the film is the type of scares it goes for. It is almost all composed of jump scares with very short buildup. Jump scares work well in small doses in serious films or in high doses in more “thrill ride” type movies, but don’t work when a film is trying to be more serious and atmospheric. The film seems to be a lot of quick jump scares and a lot of nothing happening in between. This makes the movie surprisingly tedious for being barely over 80 minutes.
Another problem is that it explains what is happening very vaguely. It’s not a good thing when a movie painstakingly explains everything and treating the audience like idiots, but it’s also not good when you explain certain things very briefly and leave the majority of the rest of the film a confusing mess. There is a scene about an hour into the film where Scott explains what is actually happening, but not really why. Scott also has unexplained psychic visions of what happened in the past to cause the events in the present. This is simply lazy writing as the writer couldn’t come up with a good and realistic way for the characters to figure out what is going on.
There are also a lot of little things that seem important but go nowhere. Natalie early in the film takes some pills, but we are never told what these pills are or why she is taking them, and it is never brought up again (but in the moment it happens it is focused on, making it seem important). After the accident early on, Chris cuts the wires to his own truck for seemingly no reason, and it is never explained or brought up and makes any possible escape more difficult? Is he sabotaging the group purposely? Well, no. In fact later he tries to escape and finds that he has pointlessly made it more difficult for himself.
It takes a long time for the film to establish its rules (about 20 minutes before the ending) and once those rules are established, we realize they haven’t been closely followed for most of the film. The writing is extremely poor as a whole. The dialogue is very basic and the characters are as bland as it gets. They are given little character traits just to give them character traits, which do not serve the plot in any way. The biggest problems with this film can be summed up in this way: The movie does things just to do them, and doesn’t really have a reason for doing so. It even has an open-ended conclusion, for no good reason other than “it’s cool and artistic to not have a real ending”.
All in all, what can you say about a horror film that isn’t original, atmospheric, scary, or fun? It actually isn’t bad at all from a technical standpoint, which is the most obvious positive that can be drawn. It doesn’t look as low-budget as it really is. The movie never looks cheap or cheesy. The editing is quite good as well. It reminds me of an otherwise lame person who is really well dressed. Nice to look at but no real substance or value outside of the aesthetics.
I would advise people to skip this one. There is really not much to like about the film. It isn’t totally incompetent from a purely visual perspective, so I can’t say it’s a film completely without merit, but one that isn’t worth watching as either entertainment or art. Horror fans will feel like they’ve seen Husk before and it was done much better the first time they saw it.