[Review] Attack of the Killer Scarecrow (Blood in the Snow Film Festival): Teen-Crafted Terror Finds an Urban Legend to Be True

Attack of the Killer Scarecrow delivers exactly what the title promises. Written, directed, and edited by teenager Octavian Kaul — who also stars as one of the three leads — this Canadian horror short has a nice 1980s vibe that doesn’t overdo that angle. 

On Halloween night, Aaron (Kaul) and two of his fellow high school friends, Olivia (Samantha Wong) and Bryan (Adam Winstanley), go trick or treating. Bryan — the type of character who you can’t wait to see get his — whines about not wanting to continue, but Aaron tries to support Olivia because it means something to her as it reminds her of her deceased mother. 

The three finally head toward their homes, but Bryan coerces Aaron into sneaking into a corn maze that is closed for the evening — where, Urban legend has it, some teens went missing, never to be heard from again.

Kaul may be young, but this is his ninth project as a director, and that experience shows here. His shots are framed wonderfully, and his editing is well done, too. He sets a creepy tone and makes the most of the suspense that being in an unlit corn maze brings, with the added factor of the titular creature — portrayed eerily by Dallas McNeil, with a cool costume design by Lisa Leighton — possibly always being an arm’s length away. The young cast is solid, with Kaul and Wong turning in fine lower-key performances and Winstanley giving it his all in a histrionic turn for his manipulative, less sympathetic character.

Attack of the Killer Scarecrow shows influences from Stephen King and John Carpenter, among others, but not in a heavy-handed way. Stick around for the end-credits newspaper headlines that include a few Easter eggs for horror fans. The short has a feel that makes it reminiscent of an installment of such TV terror classics as Tales from the Darkside and Are You Afraid of the Dark?.

Attack of the Killer Scarecrow screened as part of Blood in the Snow Film Festival, which ran from October 28 to November 7, 2020.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.