For its first twenty minutes, the “After Dark Original” known as Husk is anything but, well, original. We’re quickly introduced to five very basic young adults who are on an isolated road when their truck is plowed into by a flock of crows. (OK, fine: a “murder” of crows.) One of the quintet simply vanishes right away, and then the girl goes missing. That leaves three guys (Brian, Scott, and Chris) to wander through a massive cornfield, the creepy farmhouse that lies within the massive cornfield, and the scary cellar beneath the creepy farmhouse at the center of the massive cornfield.
Brian’s the tough one, Scott’s the nerdy one, and Chris is the craven one. Get used to this trio, because they’re your omnipresent tour guides through an 80-minute horror flick that would probably be a whole lot cooler as a 27-minute short film. Oh, except that Brett Simmons’ Husk actually is based on a pretty cool 27-minute short film from 2005, which only goes to prove that you should sometimes leave well enough alone -- especially when you’re delivering a scary story about corn, scarecrows, and tons of empty rooms worth wandering through.
Once Husk gets past its truly generic set-up (a few of the actors are better than you might expect, which is just about the only thing that alleviates the first-act tedium), the flick offers a potentially nifty premise: that our three sorta-heroes are safe within the farmhouse, all things being relative, but once they venture into the massive expanse of cornstalks, that’s when they’re susceptible to being slashed to ribbons by an evil scarecrow. Or two.
All of the “non-wandering through fields/rooms” material is presented through clunky flashbacks and weird leaps of logic on the part of Brian (the tough one), Scott (the nerd), or Chris (the coward), but suffice to say the back-story is about half as compelling as it was beside a campfire back in 1962. Even at its better moments, and to be fair there are some, Husk is stunningly overlit, and therefore rather un-creepy when it’s clearly trying to be ultra-creepy. (Characters frequently poke around with Zippos or flashlights lit, despite the stadium-sized wattage that’s clearly tucked away just off-screen.)
And yet somewhere between the early moments of Husk’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre template set-up and the mid-section’s intermittently creepy idea involving scarecrows, sewing machines, and long, nasty spikes, there’s clearly an intent to make a basic but effective old-school, fast-paced, all-in-one-night horror flick. To say it fails and dismiss Husk outright would be a bit unfair, but the bulk of the film is simply too familiar to warrant much enthusiasm, and the lesser parts are just plain old dull. Husk delivers a couple of decent jolts, a few dashes of creative gore and effects work, and a performance or two that’s better than you’d expect, but it’s not much more than a horror freak’s temporary late-night time-waster, at best.