Scar (Danielle Cole) has had it with her rude, lazy boyfriend and, in a fit of violence, stabs him to death. On the move with nowhere to go, her stoner father (Tennessee Webb) being little help, Scar finds herself homeless, sleeping on the streets. Which is where she meets Scarlett (Neale Kimmel).
Scarlett has quite a nice scam going, sleeping with married men and then blackmailing them to pay all her bills. When her latest extortion victim decides to strike back, attacking her in an alley, Scarlett is saved by the knife-wielding Scar, and a reluctant friendship is born.
Scar moves in with Scarlett, eventually influencing her with the idea that killing men is easy, because the police always suspect other men, and thus the women can get away with it. It’s a theory that the two women begin to test out in earnest, as they work together to kill, their risk-taking and violence escalating with each success.
Sean K. Robb’s Scars does its best to strike a balance between bloody grindhouse brutality and more deliberately paced drama. Scarlett seems to have the most intriguing narrative arc, insomuch that she is initially a reluctant killer who gets caught up in Scar’s violent orbit, whereas it’s hard to see Scar’s character as anything but an increasingly bleak descent into darkness. Thus, Scar becomes almost one-dimensional, even as she drives most of the film’s major plot developments.
The violence in this film is very matter-of-fact, at least initially. While early kills are sudden and brutal, as the duo get better, or at least more invested, in their bloody work, so too do they seem to slow down to enjoy it more. This doesn’t mean you’re in for gratuitous torture porn or anything like that; there’s some psychological torment, sure, but when things get gruesome they tend to progress fast.
That said, the blood and gore effects themselves can be a little hokey. The main weapon of choice, a large kitchen knife, looks like a plastic toy much of the time, and I don’t think anyone will mistake any of the violence in the film as being real thanks to the blood work. Well, except one particular moment near the end of the film, easily the most gruesome kill, that transcends the violence that came before it. A combination of the composition of the shot and the effects-work sells that moment in a way that the previous violence never seems to match.
Ultimately, while the film was entertaining in that dark way homicide-friendly thrillers can be, Scars left me somewhat cold. Again, the Scar character seemed to become so one-dimensional, it was hard to relate; not that anyone would want to relate to a serial killer but, you know, it helps if you can find a motivation that speaks to something greater. She’s a predator in the most animalistic sense; you can’t reason with a hungry shark, though at least you know the shark is killing because it is hungry. We never fully figure out what drives Scar on, which is by design, and that can leave one unsatisfied.
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