There will always be arguments over when Punk Rock started or what truly constitutes Punk, but what cannot be denied is that Punk Rock was a genre of music made by music lovers for music lovers. Before it got co-opted by the mainstream (as everything cool eventually does), what could not be denied was the spirit of the genre. The DIY sensibility of the songs plus the fact that musicians need not be 100% proficient at their instrument nor require the backing of major label financing (and with that, of course, interference) defined the genre. Punk bands were disparate, but if there was any singularity that tied early Punk bands together, it was the desire to return Rock N’ Roll back to its simpler three-chord, back-to-basics roots.
So what does this have to do with the upcoming indie-horror film Scarewaves? Well, Scarewaves is directed by Henrique Couto, and Henrique Couto is a director in the Punk tradition. The man behind Babysitter Massacre works well outside the confines of the studios, makes entertaining horror movies with a DIY aesthetic, is an obvious fan of the genre, and most importantly, strips horror back to its blood, beasts and babes basics.
With Scarewaves, Couto tackles the anthology film – a sub-genre this reviewer is quite fond of. A few short one and dones plus a good wraparound is usually a recipe for some fun entertainment. In this one, the wraparound revolves around radio DJ Amos Satan who is broadcasting the final episode of his titular program. Ostensibly a call-in show where listeners regale Satan with “scary, true” stories, Satan tires of hearing the umpteenth variation of the “beehive hairdo, colony of insects” urban legend and decides that instead of listening to yarns, he’ll weave a few himself.
Tale number one, entitled “Painting After Midnight,” mixes a splotch of Color Me Blood Red with a smidge of the Faustian legend and just a dab of Dorian Gray. It begins with a model posing nude for an artist named Garrett. Model is a bit of a pretentious bitch and keeps interfering with the creative process by refusing to sit still and stop yakking. Suddenly, the lights go out and a sinister hand reaches up from below and grabs her.
The next day, there’s a knock on the door and it’s cute, busty photographer Linda (Erin R. Ryan) answering a room for rent ad. Garrett takes her on and she strikes up a fast friendship with his next model/victim Jenna. As Linda is taking a swim in her bikini or changing clothes, Garrett simply cannot take his eyes off of her. Linda, however, begins to find clues indicating that all may not be as it should in the artist’s studio. Realizing this, Garrett hits her over the head with a shovel, binds her to a chair and cuts off her clothes. It is then that we find out where the artists truly get their muse from.
The second number, entitled “Fair Scare,” deals with the aftermath of a heist. Two cousins, Mitchell and Robbie, are speeding away after absconding with nearly $2 million from a baseball stadium. They take shelter in Mitchell’s house, where his wife, who is decidedly less than respectful to her husband, talks about how to split the loot. She attempts to seduce Robbie, who speaks in a hilariously overwrought Southern accent, and tries to convince him to take out Mitchell. Robbie rebukes her and tells his cousin. Milquetoast Mitchell takes a measure of revenge on his other half and is then haunted by visions. Things, naturally, do not transpire as planned, leading to an unexpectedly poignant ending – that is until the zombie appears!
Next on the setlist is “Office Case” where gruff, disgraced veteran cop Officer Easterly is forced to take a job as a night security guard in a law office. Easterly is your Dirty Harry type who considers everyone a “scumbag” and is of the shoot first, ask questions later school. Over the course of his first night at his new job, Officer Easterly will have to face the ramifications of a lifetime of career decisions.
The final segment is “Is it Worth the Wait?” This one shows just why patience is indeed a virtue. With allusions to Polanski’s Repulsion and macabre visions aplenty, the closing number is another fun one.
Ah, but what about the encore? The wraparound involving DJ Satan closes with an unexpected and satisfying coda.
So yeah, Couto may only be employing three chords, and his gear may not be the latest and greatest, but it doesn’t matter because it works. His love for the roots of the genre shows and Scarewaves is fun, fresh and entertaining. And for that it gets a place on our turntable.
***1/2 (out of five)