Tony Todd is too Good for This theatre: Are You Scared 2

Watching Tony Todd's recent turn on 24 made me realize that I haven't written much about the Candyman. I consider Tony Todd to be one of the finest actors of his generation, perhaps the finest to be working in genre film today. He's one of the only actors who can motivate me to watch a film solely by virtue of his presence in it, which inspired me to honor him here at the castle. By watching and reviewing the many, many direct to video movies that Tony Todd is too good to be starring in. So, with no further ado, I present:

Tony Todd is Too Good For This!

Here at "Tony Todd is too good for this theatre", I dedicate time to watching films that aren't good enough to feature Tony Todd, yet do nonetheless. This time it's "Are You Scared 2", a film I went to the trouble of seeing the first one in the series so I wouldn't be confused, only to discover that despite the first one obviously setting up for a sequel, this one is a follow-up in name only, a thematically similar film that the distributors likely bought and retitled, hoping to cash in on the huge following that film had developed in the years since its release.

The first one was a Saw rip-off with an utterly ridiculous premise – not so much that you could get people into a serial killer trap by telling them that they were volunteering for a reality show, that’s sensible enough, although the warehouse they all wound up in was so clearly an actual murder trap as opposed to a TV show that the idea any of them went along with the supposed ‘tests’ was totally unbelievable. No, the ridiculous part was that it was all an attempt by an abusive murderous father to trap and kill his daughter – so the entire scheme required a traumatized-to-the-point-of-psychosis girl to volunteer for a show about being terrorized. And why did he kill everyone else? For no good reason, of course.

But I’m not writing about Are You Scared, I’m writing about Are You Scared 2, the aforementioned in-name-only sequel about, um, ah… actually, the fact that I was unable to tell what the movie was about was one of its bigger problems.

It concerns a group of people who drive around in an SUV, using their computer to direct them to GPS co-ordinates where they find a box with something in it. The film acts like not only is this a thing that people actually do, but such a popular thing that there’s no reason to give even the slightest explanation for what they’re doing. Like how in a film that features football, no one bothers to explain what football is, because everyone should be familiar with its existence.

This ‘driving around looking for GPS co-ordinates’ thing certainly isn’t football. I've never heard of anyone doing this, nor have I seen it referenced in fiction. No, wait. Maybe something like this was mentioned in a Law and Order once. Maybe. It would be easier to look up on the internet if I knew this activity’s name, but either it doesn’t have one, or the filmmakers thought the audience were so familiar with it that they didn’t feel the need to mention that name at all.

The entire first third of the film revolves around the idea that the characters are going to set some kind of a record and somehow make money by following co-ordinates to destinations, but the whole thing is so poorly explained that I found myself wishing they’d just get to the killing already.

Anyway, in the least surprising twist in recent memory, they choose a destination that leads them to a warehouse that, in addition to being a really cheap filming location, houses a snuff film operation, and they wind up getting chased around in circles as they use their GPS devices (rendered with stunningly low-tech graphics) to try and escape.

I wouldn’t go into the plot any more except for the fact that it takes a turn so amazingly stupid that even I, someone who perhaps just barely cracks the top 1 percent of lovers of mediocre horror films, was shocked.

After escaping from the warehouse, losing only one friend in the process, the remaining three would-be thing-finders run through a field. Whether they’re trying to escape or get to the bunker where the control room is (located through the use of the internet!) I can’t really remember, and is not important for the point I’m about to make. Anyhow, they’re running along:

See how close they’re all together? Well, as they run, the geeky one at the back pauses to catch his breath and check the GPS, while the other two keep running.

He doesn’t make a sound, yell for them to come back, anything. It’s as if, for a second, he forgets where he is and what he’s doing. So then, before you know it, his friends have run off and left him all alone, separating the characters so they can be killed off one-by-one.


I know it’s hard to easier to write horror about characters who are off on their own. I also know it can be hard to write in a reason for characters to split up so they can be killed separately. But if the only way you can manage to separate your characters is to have one of them stop running and not bother to mention it to his co-flee-ers, then there's something wrong with your script:

You’re not writing hard enough.

All the screenwriters out there reading this, do me a favor. Watch Are You Scared 2, and if you find any similarities to your own writing, go back, delete that, and write it again.


Anyhow, even though it doesn’t seem possible, things get stupider from there. And I’m not talking about the fact that the geek notices that his friends have run off like fifteen seconds later, so they’re totally within shouting distance, if not direct line of sight. Or the fact that the geek is holding a GPS unit that shows him exactly where his friends are in relation to himself, but he still can’t find them. Also, he can’t find Lake Ponchartrain, which is just a 12 miles away, according to the GPS numbers given. While we're on the subject, doesn't Lake Ponchartrain look beautiful from outer space?

The geek then gets trapped in a net, and has to watch helplessly while a bowman plans to skewer at least one of his friends.

Wow, they’re really not that far away, are they? Like 30 feet. That’s the funny thing about arrows. Once you’re in arrow-range, you’re also in shouting range. It seems like if he wanted to aid his friends, he could just holler a warning.

Notice how in the reverse, the arrow has gone from a scary barbed thing to a rounded arrow, the kind you might use in target practice. Anyhow, it turns out the geek wasn’t so helpless after all, and uses a stick to hit the archer’s leg, causing him to miss.

Then the geek grabs the archer’s bow and beats the archer to death with it. Somehow all the noise created in this ruckus doesn’t attract his friends’ attention, and they run off, unaware that they’ve just been rescued. This poor tactical decision quickly leads to the male of the duo being dispatched by yet another snuff-man, and the girl goes running for the nearest vehicle she can find.

Geek finally uses the GPS for something worthwhile and finds the girl, at which point they get into a shouting match about how the girl blames the geek for getting her boyfriend killed. This frustrates the geek to the point that he smacks her across the head with something, knocking her out.

Yeah, that really happens.

So now there’s only one thing for the geek to do. No, not put the girl in a vehicle and drive for medical help. Of course not. Are you a dope? No, the only thing to do is run to the bunker where the whole operation is being run from, and confront the manager, one Tony Todd.

Up until this point in the film, Tony’s been off on his own, appearing for just seconds at a time as he watched the characters’ struggles, worked an editing board, and occasionally played with a pet turtle or etch-a-sketch. Amazingly, once the geek has arrived in the room with him, he doesn’t really play much more of a role in the movie.

Tony wheels out the standard morally relativistic speech that villains in movies about hunting humans give. In a weird part of his speech, Tony announces that any animal on earth would kill a kangaroo, because it’s a weak animal, and as such deserves to die. Basically his plan is that he’s given the geek a gift by teaching him how good murder feels, and now he wants the geek to kill for him as part of his underground snuff website, which he announces is more successful than porn.

Normally I'd go off and find some kind of number about how many porn websites there are and how much revenue they generate each second, but that statement is so ridiculous I don't think I have to bother refuting it.

Notably, in this scene Tony Todd and the geek never appear on screen together, which leads me to believe that he was filmed much later and edited into the film. The same with the other ‘name’ in the film, Adam Busch (late of ‘Buffy’) who appears in bookend sequences, only ever sitting in front of his computer. There’s one moment where it seems like Tony Todd and the actor appear onscreen together, but the geek is only a silhouette in those two shots, so it really could have been anyone. Having failed to make a persuasive argument about why the geek shouldn’t kill him with a machete, Tony Todd’s character is killed with a machete.

Then the film cuts back to the girl, who despite her injuries, manages to get back to her car without any trouble at all. Her car which is apparently located at African Lion Safari.

Finally the film wraps up with an intimation that the geek has become so enamored of murder that he’s going to take over Tony Todd’s snuff empire. Not only does this come out of left-field from a character standpoint, the whole snuff operation doesn’t make a lick of sense. They draw people out into the middle of nowhere using a contest where people go to strange GPS locations to find a box? Tabling for a moment how crazy that sounds, doesn’t this whole setup mean that when someone notices these characters are missing, the authorities will know exactly, to a GPS certainty, where they were last seen? Especially if the contestants constantly update a video blog detailing their actions, as these characters do.

As far as snuff setups go, this is even more preposterous than Vacancy.

Here’s a few more pictures of beautiful African animals, presented because I found them more entertaining than anything else in the movie.

Oh, and on the subject of kangaroos – no one can really say how they’d do around predators, since they basically don’t have any. As for their weakness, that’s just idiocy – their hindlegs are incredibly powerful and feature prominent claws. They’ve been known to gut the few dingoes that are foolish enough to attack them.

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