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July 24, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

ST 8

One thing I love about modern horror films is the omnipresent group of giggling young chaps, unfailingly having a good time together in the first minutes. They are enjoying life as much as you are, there, sitting in the cinema; the fact that in the luckiest of circumstances most of them are going to die of a terrible death (I’m not spoiling anything here, right?), is the film’s not so subtle way of scaring the audience into considering the uncertainty of life, even their own. Unfortunately, this is only one of the few really enjoyable tricks director Scott Michell picked from the big book of horror leitmotifs when shaping Scar Tissue.

At least, said group of teenagers is not the usual bunch of stereotyped guys and dolls making fart jokes or driving to the lake despite being grounded. At that point, who wouldn’t sympathise with the maniac hiding in the SUV’s trunk? No, modest as Scar Tissue might be, it still deserves some praise, especially for the way it presents its characters. Protagonists Luke (Danny Horn) and Sam (Charity Wakefield) are well integrated in the story, and their lives are just as messed up as the world that surrounds them.

All starts when Luke, waking up one morning after a night out with friends, finds himself dragged in a horrible murder that echoes the methods of Edward Jansen (Pete Lee-Wilson), a supposedly dead serial child killer. It doesn’t take long before he meets Sam, a drunkard detective with an unquenched thirst for revenge. The thriller’s plot unfolds, following Luke and Sam’s investigation and promising relationship: their personalities and backstories elude the audience as much as the killer’s identity. Both mysteries evolve at the same pace, gradually becoming clearer throughout a journey that brings the two young characters closer while dark forces work to divide them.

The story is mostly just a big tick list of the genre’s must-have features, scripted without necessarily following the path of the last decade’s cult hits. Scar Tissue is no Saw or Hostel; it rather draws inspiration from the horror films of the ’90s and ‘80s, which clearly influence its soundtrack too. You might also notice a bit of Dario Argento’s style. Overall, the film has an amateurish feel, but it features a generous, occasionally convincing amount of gory violence, frontal nudity, and – why not? – unapologetic childsploitation. For everyone’s peace of mind, there’s also an unnecessary final walk-through of the reasons behind every single plot twist. A “Serial Killer FAQ” section that spoils the pleasure of having something unexplainable, or anything scarier than flashing images of rotten corpses or loud bangs after long quiet moments.

ST 17

If audiences didn’t sleep after watching Night of the Living Dead or The Exorcist, I’m sure it wasn’t because they couldn’t figure out how the zombie epidemy started, or the reason why Lucifer picked little Regan. Can we all agree that we have reached the saturation point in terms of solving puzzles and pointless mysteries? Plot driven thrillers must be very well thought out, because when they fail, they fail badly; and that’s sad to see, especially in features like Scar Tissue, which could have gone a much longer way with a bit more courage.

Scar Tissue is released in UK cinemas on July 25th and will be available on DVD and on demand on August 4th.

Davide Prevarin