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SCARE CAMPAIGN

SYNOPSIS: Popular TV prank show, Scare Campaign, has been entertaining audiences for the last five years with its mix of old school scares and hidden camera fun. But as we enter a new age of online TV, the producers find themselves up against a new hard-edged web series which makes their show look decidedly quaint. It's time to up the ante, but will the team go too far this time, and are they about to prank the wrong guy?

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Propelled by an ever-inventive screenplay, Scare Campaign revels in surprising us while scaring us. To its credit, we don't see the twists coming, and the Russian Doll-type structure gives the film a rich texture. The premise is pretty bold: a successful reality prank show is in danger of being discontinued by TV boss Vicki (a spiky Sigrid Thornton) who encourages the director, Marcus (Ian Meadows), to be even more daring to keep up with the virally spreading snuff movies made by a secret, hideously masked online group.

Marcus responds by setting up a prank that even his star and girlfriend Emma (Meegan Warner) doesn't know about, in which a demented stooge reacts by going on a bloody rampage. But there are new surprises to come ...

Meadows makes Marcus suitably slimy and amoral, while Emma finds the strength to finally break it off with him ... again. This romantic drama plays out alongside the horror story quite effectively, contrasting their characters. Olivia DeJonge is terrific as Abby, the young actress hired to play a ghost in the prank that Marcus has planned to impress Vicky - and his audiences.

All the supports work to underpin the film's effect; one miscalculation in casting would unhook us from the film. Well paced and technically excellent (notable in the fine prosthetics, hair and make up), the film surfs on a powerful soundscape and clever camerawork - both as the film we see and as images captured by the hidden cameras used for the prank show. The subtext which warns against escalating the reality show content for bloodthirsty fans is evident.

Writer/Directors Colin and Cameron Cairnes (of 100 Bloody Acres fame) show flair and brio; little wonder the film is attracting wide attention and acclaim.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SCARE CAMPAIGN (MA15+)
(Aust, 2015)

CAST: Meegan Warner, Ian Meadows, Olivia DeJonge, Josh Quong tart, Patrick Harvey, Cassandra Magrath, Steve Mouzakis, John Brumpton, Jason Geary, Sigrid Thornton

PRODUCER: Julie Ryan

DIRECTOR: Colin and Cameron Cairnes

SCRIPT: Colin and Cameron Cairnes

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Brawley

EDITOR: Adam White, Dale Dunne

MUSIC: Glenn Richards

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Justin Dix

RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Bonsai Films/Madman Entertainment

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 12, 2016 (event screenings)







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