On the surface, Let’s Scare Julie sounds like a thousand other horror films.
A group of teenage girls meet up, mess around and decide to prank a neighbour, but something goes wrong and they end up regretting it. Simple, and possibly, played out.
But what sets this film apart from its peers is the fact that it is (claimed) to be filmed in one take. Add to that the fact that the writer/director is a seasoned producer and most of the actresses are well established and we are left with something sounding more promising.
Cousins Emma (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson) and Taylor (Isabel May) don’t see quite eye-to-eye. Emma is an anxious person, following a chain of bad events and Taylor struggles to understand her trepidation, especially when Taylor’s raucous friends come to stay at the house that they share.
Late one night, after some pranking and urban legend sharing, the group comes to the decision that they should prank a girl who has recently moved to the neighbourhood. As usual Emma is against it but is blackmailed into getting involved by her cousin and before she knows it, she and her younger sister Lilly are nervously waiting for the pranksters to return.
But when one of the group – Paige – returns shaken, confused and alone, the girls start to panic as it seems that something terrifying and possibly even supernatural may have happened to the other girls. Now Paige, Emma and Lilly are at risk of meeting the same fate, unless they can figure out what is happening and escape.
Is there enough in this film to make it stand out? Well, yes and no.
I love continuous-shot scenes, like the ‘stairs fight’ in Tony Jaa’s The Protector, always amazes me how much work goes into something like that. I also liked the way 1917 was filmed to seem like one shot – thanks to lots of clever editing.
And though it is claimed that Let’s Scare Julie is a ‘one shot film’, it wasn’t really. I know because I spent lots of time (too much really) looking for cuts as I watched. Did this detract from my enjoyment at all? Maybe.
Either way, the continuousness if it does draw you in. And though not to the 1917 standard, the cuts are pretty seamless.
The sound design is also good. And for a film that doesn’t have too much going on visually – no flashy sfx here – what you hear has a big impact on how you feel throughout and generally speaking, you’ll feel pretty on-edge.
On the down side, the plot isn’t that novel and it becomes a little hard to follow as it gets past the halfway mark. Whether that was intended (confusion adding to the tension) or down to something else, it’s hard to tell. Sadly the Purge-style masks that are used by the girls have also become somewhat of a horror cliché too.
Let’s Scare Julie is a decent film that probably had the potential to be great if it hadn’t felt all so familiar and had perhaps given us more visually. In many ways it’s a revival of the found footage style of film without actually being filmed from the perspective of a character. Fans of The Blair Witch Project and its ilk should enjoy the ride.