Lacks originality but serves up its combo plate of genre tropes with above-average flair.

Best of this year’s After Dark Films horror batch (and the first to be produced entirely inhouse), “Husk” lacks much originality but serves up its combo plate of genre tropes with above-average flair and intensity on modest means. Second feature for writer-director Brett Simmons (following 2003 mockumentary “Unsung Heroes”) should satisfy fans in home formats after this week’s brief package theatrical run.

A car full of Midwest twentysomethings get a big surprise when a murder of crows inexplicably smashes into their windshield. There are much worse surprises to come, however, once they wake from crash-induced unconsciousness. One of them is already missing; scarecrows in the adjacent cornfield demonstrate a tendency to attack; the abandoned farmhouse in the distance turns out to be another very bad place, due to events one protag sees in flashback visions. Latter element is the weakest, as the backstory is routine and doesn’t do much to explain why the bloody past needs to play havoc with present-day characters. But the well acted, crisply designed, shot and edited pic is atmospheric throughout, making particularly good use of tension-filled silence in several creepy scenes.

Husk

Production

An After Dark Films release and presentation of an ADF and Signature Entertainment production. Produced by Courtney Solomon. Executive producers, Limor Diamant, Allan Zeman, Stephanie Caleb. Co-producers, Karri O'Reilly, James Portolese, Lucy Mukerjee. Directed, written by Brett Simmons.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-DV), Marco Fargnoli, Jeff Dolen; editor, William Yeh; music, Bobby Tahouri; production designer, Hannah Beachler; set decorator, Nicole Leblanc; costume designer, Alexis Scott. Reviewed online, Palm Springs, Jan. 18, 2011. MPAA rating: R. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Devon Graye, Wes Chatham, CJ Thomason, Tammin Sursok, Ben Easter, Joshua Skipworth, Nick Toussaint, Mike Cornelison.
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