I can think of several films I saw that way when I was young. Films that gained special power because my memory was incomplete and my mind filled in the gaps with things a lot scarier than the film itself.
I was too afraid to keep watching that night and left scared out of my wits early on to stew in my own imaginings.
It must have been thirty years ago, and I never even knew what the movie was until just recently, when Netflix found it for me: Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Directed by Frank De Felitta in 1981, starring more familiar faces than you’d believe.
The film opens introducing us to Bubba, a man from the mold of Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’, a big man with a small mind. Not five minutes in, Bubba is (wrongly) accused of doing harm to a young girl who he plays with regularly.
The good old boys in town form up a quick posse to bring street justice to the man that they have already decided was a menace to their town. Soon, they corner the simpleminded man as he hides in plain sight as a scarecrow near his house.
From then on, everything goes so predictably, Bubba could have written it:
The men learn of Bubba’s innocence with their guns hot in their hands, there’s a trial but the men get off (they appear to have benefitted from a ‘stand your ground’ law that strongly favors the survivors of an interaction. But as the trial ends, they are cursed by Bubba’s old crone of a mother. One by one, over the next several days, the men see the scarecrow in their fields, panic and get themselves killed in ways that are arguably accidental.
There are some moments of tension once in a while, but this is not the kind of movie that will make you jump. Ever. I would not say that it’s a very good film, but it’s not terrible either. And Bubba will haunt your children’s dreams for years if you let they get a glimpse.