Sometimes I feel like I might overreact a bit when I complain about certain African-American portrayals in horror movies — and really, in movies in general — but then along comes a film like Are You Scared. This low-budget, mediocre Saw rip-off finds six teens trapped in warehouse under the pretense of a reality TV game show. One, naturally, is “the black guy,” Jason (Kariem Marbury), a character so obnoxious and stereotypical, he deserves a point-by-point breakdown of every irritating moment he spends on screen (don’t worry; he lasts for only 10 minutes). Now, share my pain…
We open with “gamers” Brandon and Kelly (Brad Ashten and Alethea Kutscher) waking up in a warehouse with no memory of how they got there. They find Jason trapped in a cage with a bloodied, bandaged abdomen and an attitude. When Jason sees them, he immediately begins yelling at them, thinking they put him in the cage. Diagnosis: emotional and irrational.
Jason utters “fuck” — or some derivation thereof — in two of the first three sentences he speaks and uses a curse word in practically every line of dialogue. Diagnosis: foul-mouthed.
When Brandon makes a lighthearted comment about his cage, Jason says, “Fuck you,” surprising no one. Diagnosis: humorless.
In reference to being cut open and stuck in a cage, Jason exclaims, “Man, I ain’t down with that.” Oh, ain’t you? Diagnosis: uses bad grammar.
Brandon lets Jason out of the cage, then laments that they’ve hit a dead end in the warehouse. Jason rewards his kindness by telling him, “Man, quit your bitchin’. Ain’t nothing keepin’ me here.” He then proceeds to open a fuse box and receive an electrical shock. “Ow! Jesus!” he screams. Diagnosis: stupid and sacrilegious.
Jason runs into two more players, Dylan and Cherie (Soren Bowie and Erin Consalvi), and is immediately hostile, thinking that they must be the culprits and referring them “Hansel and Gretel.” He gets up into Dylan’s face, pointing at his bandage and shouting, “Is this your little handy work, son? Huh? Huh, partner? Huh? Huh?” Diagnosis: antagonistic and deaf.
Brandon tells Jason to “Relax. Lay off the coffee,” to which Jason retorts, “All I know is I better get a bang-up explanation for this shit, or I’m goin’ Norfolk ping-pong on muthafuckas!” What does that even mean??? Diagnosis: nonsensical with a table tennis fetish.
When Kelly asks the group how they got there, Jason chimes in: “Man, what I know is I’m smokin’ a blunt at my house. Next thing you know, I’m in this shithole.” Diagnosis: weedhead; probably lives with his mother.
When they all decide to go look for a way out, Jason for some reason mutters in the direction of Dylan and Cherie, “Honest Christian muthafuckas.” Eh? Diagnosis: dishonest, intolerant to Christian muthafuckas.
The group finds another gal, Laura (Carlee Avers), lying on the ground. She understandably recoils when she wakes to find Brandon standing over her. Jason, however, takes this as some sort of insult: “Yo, ice princess, what’s up with that? He was just trying to help you.” This coming from a man who almost punched every person in the room two minutes ago. Diagnosis: unsympathetic, hypocritical, uses the word “yo.”
When a disembodied voice announces, “Welcome to Are You Scared,” Jason’s tone switches completely. He’s psyched at the prospect of winning money — so much so that he proceeds to moon the camera: “Put that on prime time: my fuckin’ derriere!” Diagnosis: materialistic with an ass fetish.
Kelly looks in her purse for her phone and finds a dead rat. She drops it and screams, “My cell phone’s gone!” Jason finds this hilarious and laughs at her: “I hope you kept the receipt!” Diagnosis: schadenfreudean.
Everyone seems suspicious of the intentions of this “game” except for Jason, who is suddenly OK with the fact that he woke up WITH A GASH IN HIS STOMACH. He gleefully, blindly follows the voice’s instructions when it tells him that he’s the first person to compete. “Let’s rock this mother!” he yells, then points his finger in Kelly’s face and taunts, “See you at the showdown!” As he walks to the “game room,” he wrings his hands and laughs, “Yeaaaah boy! Time to make that money, baby!” Diagnosis: cocky, greedy, dead.
Of course, Jason gets locked in a room with a lazily planned Saw-wannabe trap that asks him to cut open his stomach to find a key that will stop a bomb from exploding yadda yadda yadda. Normally I hate to see the black guy bite the dust so early in a film, but normally the black guy isn’t such an asshole.