Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge - New Release Review
Directors: Aaron B. Koontz, Alexandra Barreto, Anthony Cousins, Jed Shepherd, Rachele Wiggins
Starring: Jeremy King, Zoe Graham, Rich Sommer, Kelli Maroney, Graham Skipper, Shakira Ja'nai Paye, Maria Olsen and more
Written by: Aaron B. Koontz, Alexandra Barreto, Cameron Burns, John Karsko, Jed Shepherd
Produced by: Aaron B. Koontz, Cameron Burns, Anthony Cousins, Alex Euting, Nicole Rosas, Ashleigh Snead, Helen Tuck, Tim Willrich
Cinematography by: Andrew Scott Baird, Chris Bland, Ciaron Craig, Robert Patrick Stern
Original Score by: Alex Cuervo
When horror guru Rad Chad Buckley's funeral turns into an elaborate series of hilarious death traps, the guests must band together and use the rules of horror to survive the bloody game.
Sequels to horror anthologies have always been tricky. On paper, it sounds easy; a new batch of shorts by different filmmakers, all tied together with a loose wraparound story. Just like the first movie, but maybe with some returning characters and themes. Surely, it’s a winning formula? But SOMEHOW, most horror anthology sequels have all been duds. ‘Creepshow 2’ (and 3, but we hardly count that), ‘ABC’s of Death 2’, ‘V/H/S 2’ and now unfortunately, we can add ‘Scare Package 2’ to the list.
The original ‘Scare Package’ wasn’t the holy grail of horror anthologies to begin with, but it had some fantastic highlights like ‘One Time in the Woods’ and ‘Horror Hypothesis’ starring our lord and saviour Joseph Robert Briggs (Joe Bob). The standout character from the shorts was Rad Chad, the obnoxious video store clerk who was obsessed with 80’s horror. Even though his character died in the first film, it seemed like a great idea to have Rad Chad return as the curator for whatever sequel ideas they might have had. Director Aaron B Koontz however has too much on his plate with ‘Scare Package 2’. It’s a film that struggles with whether it wants to continue to be an anthology or a sequel to the Rad Chad segments of the first movie.
The main story of the wraparound segments centres around Rad Chad’s funeral and its guests (mostly made up of characters from the first movie) competing in ‘Saw’ type situations, set up by Rad Chad before he died. Sure, it’s far-fetched, but the world set up in the first film was silly enough to believe that Chad would have done this. Where the movie falls down is in its winks and nods to other horror films. It feels like it’s being clever or cute, for the horror fans watching, but it just feels like someone who’s never actually watched the source material. References to ‘Saw’, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Hellraiser’ etc all just feel surface level. With a sequel to a horror anthology that was probably introduced to the mass of its audience via ‘The Last Drive-In’, they really have no reason not to dig deep into niche horror references. As an example, the villain appears as Freddy Krueger in TV form from ‘Dream Warriors’...and that’s just the joke. He doesn’t reference it again, or make any Freddy puns, so the actor is just trapped in this stupid outfit for 10 minutes for no reason until we move on to the next short film or set piece. If it’s on the scale of parody movies, it’s closer to ‘Scary Movie 4’ than ‘Airplane!’. Yikes.
When it comes to the shorts themselves, they’re definitely weaker than the first. ‘Welcome to the 90’s’ has a clever premise (Jason type killer attacks a group of famous final girls) but never truly delivers. There already is a film called ‘Final Girl’ and it does this premise 10 times better. ‘The Night He Came Back Again! Part VI: The Night She Came Back’ is a sequel to a previous short in ‘Scare Package’. The original short was my least favourite part of the original film, so to nobodies surprise, I didn’t enjoy this one either. It feels like it’s being clever about horror movies, but really, it’s just doing a worse job of something Wes Craven had already perfected in the 90’s with ’Scream’. ‘Special Edition’ reunites Jed Shepherd and the ladies of ‘Host’ (2020), and for as much as I love that team and love seeing them succeed, this short feels like a misfire. Awkward storytelling, a rushed plot and the use of a meta gimmick that just didn’t work for me. It pains me to say, but it was my least favourite of the shorts. ‘We’re So Dead’ is the last short and takes A LOT of inspiration from ‘Re-Animator’. Although there are some fun effects on show here, it is just a story to push along the wraparound story and doesn’t feel like its own stand-alone story.
If I had to sum up the shorts and main story in a few words it would be half baked. Half baked ideas held together with cinematic scotch tape. A sequel struggling to find its identity. It’s a real shame because there’s singular elements here that I love and had some fun with, but as a whole, it just didn’t work for me.
- Adam Neeson
'Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge' is available to stream exclusively on Shudder Thursday 22nd December