I first heard rumblings of Scare Package during a conversation at the Chattanooga Film Festival nearly 3 years ago. At the time, filmmaker Chris McInroy was touring We Summoned A Demon around the festival circuit and had mentioned contributing a new short film to an upcoming feature anthology. That anthology would eventually become Scare Package, and the short film he referenced turned out to be One Time in the Woods—one of many highlights in Scare Package’s seven slimy, silly segments.
The core story revolves around Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium. The proprietor of the establishment, Mr. Rad Chad himself, is on the hunt for a new employee. Luckily, he quickly finds one by way of Hawn: a capable and eager young man that, perhaps unwillingly, immediately becomes Rad Chad’s new best friend. We’re then transported in and out of various segments as Chad teaches Hawn the ropes of the video rental biz—but it’s nowhere near as formulaic as that might sound. While the setup may be a familiar one, the creative process was anything but.
When speaking to co-creator and segment writer/director Aaron B. Koontz, he mentioned creating meticulous spreadsheets that broke down existing anthology films, their run time, amount of segments, and countless other factoids. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of making “yet another anthology” initially and knew that Scare Package needed to be more than a series of short films loosely connected by some half-baked wrap around—and it is. There are no recycled shorts to be found here. Every segment was created specifically for Scare Package with the expectation that the end result plays upon one or more of the various tropes typically found in the horror genre… but not in a Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie sort of way. Each and every segment oozes (sometimes literally) with the segment director’s love of horror. This is an anthology made by and for students of the game, and it shows. There are countless homages, nods, and buried Easter eggs referencing films that members of the horror community all know and love. It’s a ton of fun to experience.
Viewers will undoubtedly enjoy some segments more than others and claim their allegiances early on, but there’s something here for everyone. From the absurd and grotesque insanity of One Time in the Woods to Emily Hagins’ meta-as-fuck Cold Open to Noah Segan’s fierce and furry directorial debut, M.I.S.T.E.R, there’s more than enough for well-rounded horror fans to sink their teeth into. But it’s the way that Koontz’s wrap-around weaves in and out of these segments while driving forward a central narrative of its own that separates Scare Package from the pack. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything else like it. I’d elaborate more, but it’s worth experiencing for yourself.
In a time where horror anthologies are a dime-a-dozen and creativity seems to be in short supply, Scare Package is an incredibly refreshing—and bloody—alternative. The success rate of the segments themselves will certainly vary depending on how you prefer your horror to be cooked, but from one horror nerd to another: you need to check this one out. Scare Package is available to stream currently on Shudder.