It could have been a contender…..
In an age where every new horror director is looking to inject something new and fresh in a much congested genre, director Jud Cremata has tried to do what Alfred Hitchcock did in ROPE and what Sam Mendes recently did with his Oscar winning masterpiece 1917 and deliver an impressive one take flick and while it offers up tons of suspense and intrigue, this chiller lacks the killer punch to really make its much needed mark.
Plot-wise its simple. while the Julie in the title is only mentioned, the film focuses on Emma (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson) who having moved into her friends Taylor’s (Isabel May) house with her younger sister, has a few friends over one night who just love to play practical jokes on each other, with Emma herself subjected to one, in the opening scene.
As the night progresses, so does the mood and its here the film sparkles with joy. Each girl is believable and the dialogue flows, with some backstory that fuels the imagination inside you as we start to speculate what could actually go wrong and what could put these characters in danger, otherwise it would not be a horror movie.
Its here that the girls decide to raise the stakes of their pranks as they turn their attention to Julie, a shy reclusive who lives across the street. Its here the title gets its meaning and as the girls venture out to play their childish game, whilst wearing the most coolest of masks that even those who play The Purge would be proud of, Emma who is against the idea, stays behind and its here that the film’s strength sizzles on the screen.
We never see the prank played out as we share this journey with Emma and as she questions what is going on and why the girls haven’t returned yet and when one of them does return and leaves even more unanswered questions, the intrigue that the film manages to pull off is quite incredible and I honestly thought I was heading towards one of 2020’s greatest of horrors.
What Emma knows, we know and its impressive in that like her, we need to know what is happening across the street? Why strange phone calls for help and one such call involving one of the girls mother who adds even more mystery and spookiness to the tale.
With its eerie tone and claustrophobic vibe, its amazing to think that once we reach the half way mark, the film sadly loses itself in a very big frustrating way. You can not offer such a tantalising tease and then fail to serve up a worthy reward for its horror fans, who have sat through the slow burn moments in hope to get that much required pay off.
To give Lets Scare Julie its upmost credit, it masterfully captures the required terror that such films like Lake Mungo perfectly served up, but while that film served up a nightmarish final image that had us shaking in our bones, here all we get is a whimper and a shake of deep frustration as when those final credits rolls, you can only howl at such a missed opportunity.
The fact it somehow ticked all the right boxes in terms of performances and for its intriguing tale, its a real shame that all we are left with is that one thought of “is that it?” and the words of Sheriff Brackett ringing through our brain…..”Everyone is entitled to one good scare“