Set to premiere in Home Theaters on Digital and On Demand as of Friday, October 2, 2020 through Shout! Studios, Let’s Scare Julie is a teen Horror flick that deals with bullying, grief, and urban legends. The directorial debut from Jud Cremata, Let’s Scare Julie is inspired by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope, and is shot in one continuous take to amp up the tension in this female-led Thriller.
It all begins after recently orphaned Emma (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson: On My Block series) moves in with her cousin Taylor (Isabel May: Alexa & Katie series, Young Sheldon series). From here, a night that starts off with harmless pranks, takes a turn for the worse as the night grows more harrowing.
As aforementioned, Emma recently moved in with her cousin Taylor after the timely death of her father. In an attempt to introduce her friends to Emma, Taylor invites her three friends for a sleepover – Madison (Odessa A’Zion: Nashville series, Fam series), Jess (Brooke Sorenson: Might Med series, Mr. Inglesias), and Paige (Jessica Sarah Flaum: What/If series, The Tale 2018). Right away the girls decide to play a prank on Emma, complete with Purge-esque masks, resulting in Emma having an asthma attack.
The girls continue to be unpleasant as the night goes on, constantly invading her space and belongings, even going as far as waving a gun around in front of Emma’s seven-year-old sister Lilly (Dakota Baccelli: This Is Us series). It does not take too long before things shift as we learn about the mysterious house across the street owned by Miss Durer (Valorie Hubbard: True Blood series, General Hospital series) that was rumored to dabble in the occult. After all, what is a sleepover without a good scary story?
They try to piece together the mystery of their new neighbors now taking residence in the old Durer home, more specifically the daughter Julie. Since this group has a love for pulling pranks, Taylor and the gang head over with the intent to scare the fresh meat, even dragging Emma’s little sister Lilly into their mess. You never see what happens in the house, but only a few of the girls make it back, Emma’s sister not being one of them. Each girl has their own version of what happened leaving it up to you to draw their own conclusion.
Because this crew come off as your typical mean girls, and the lack of character development, it is hard to care about what happens to them. There is an attempt to add some substance by presenting a romance between two of the girls, however it comes off as forced because, aside from an off-comment during the sleepover, there is nothing backing their actions. The scene presents itself to entice you to feel something as one of the characters heads back out to create a sort of tender moment, but it falls short. That in mind, there is a tender moment between Taylor and Emma establishing a feeling of closeness between the two that does work. This is also the cast with the sisterly bond between Emma and Lilly. All this in mind, it is the chemistry between Baccelli and Johnson which is the true highlight of the film.
Furthermore, because there is so much that you do not see, Let’s Scare Julie relies on its one-shot approach to create moments of tension. While some moments drag on, others feel more immersive like you are experiencing things in real-time. This strategy works because it does create a sense of dread as you wait to see what happens next. Thankfully he strong performances from the cast and their dedication to improvising, adds to the realism, even amidst the supernatural elements.
All in all, the rushed plot makes the last half of Let’s Scare Julie feel somewhat unfinished. As the end of the film commences and the credits start rolling, you are left with the feeling of, “that’s it?” With all of that build-up of tension, there is not much pay off in term of a ghost story aside from a disheveled woman in thick makeup and no conclusion.
Still, Let’s Scare Julie has its shining moments; especially where Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson is concerned. Overall, Let’s Scare Julie is your typical ‘sleepover’ film with a cast that will resonate with younger Horror fans. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 2.5 out of 5 stars.