Sundance 2020: Scare Me
Josh Ruben and Aya Cash, the two stars of the new film “Scare Me”, a comedy that premiered in the Midnight section of The Sundance Film Festival, met me inside the chaos of WarnerMedia and AT&T’s Lodge. It was a cesspool of celebrities and journalists dawning freshly cemented grins. A cacophony of small talk and fake laughter hung vapid in the air as I clambered my way through the crowd trying to find a place for us to conduct a simple interview. A makeup artist came with Aya to give her a quick touch up so the actress, best known for her role in the comedy series “You’re The Worst”, would appear as stunning as possible for the three polaroid photos I would take of her.
We were only a few hours away from the premiere of the film, and even while surrounded by the chaotic situation Josh, who wrote, directed and co-starred in this unique one-room comedy, seemed to be extremely calm and at peace.
“It’s all done, and I have been waiting so long for it come out that the premiere is almost in the back of my mind right now,” Ruben tells me as I push away dirty plates off of a table in the back corner of the room – the only place in this media war zone that I can find for us to talk.
“I should say that I’m excited though. I’m excited to see how people react to the film. Maybe they’ll hate it or maybe they love it, but either way, I’m kind of intrigued to see where it lands.”
“Scare Me” is Josh Ruben’s first feature film. The “College Humor” alumni has something truly unique and wonderful inside of his first full-length film. Nearly the entire film takes place inside of one room in a cabin. After a power outage conveniently brings together two writers, one a successful female novelist and the other a moderately delusional and extremely nettlesome screenwriter, the two pass the time by having a competition to see who can fabricate the best scary story.
This film could have very easily been a complete disaster. A film where you are literally watching two people tell stories by firelight for nearly the entirety of the film seems like it might get monotonous rather quickly. However, Cash and Ruben are so captivating in their abilities as storytellers and so perfect at delivering a punchline that you find yourself much more interested in the characters diving into their stories than you are about the plot of the film itself.
When I asked Aya how she became involved with the film and if the idea of a one-room film was a hard well she shook her head.
“Honestly after reading the script I thought it was wonderful but I really just believed in the brilliance of Josh Ruben,” Aya explains as she gives Ruben a tap on the shoulder, “he’s one of the smartest, funniest, most creative people I have ever met and he’s insanely kind which can be a rarity in this business.”
The film has been touted to be an advocate of the #metoo movement. While that sentiment might not be so clearly visible inside the film itself, Josh told me that as he was writing the script, the movement and his disgust with actors like Kevin Spacey and Louis CK were on his mind. I asked Aya if this was at the forefront of her mind as she was developing her character.
“I don’t really think in terms of those kinds of themes. I’m not thinking about how the film will be perceived or how our message will be shown. I am there to make a real person out of this character. Plus, I don’t feel like most women are thinking ‘wait, have I ever have felt like that nor have I ever been treated a certain way because I am a lady?’ We live in a misogynistic, racist culture and we deal with that on a daily basis. That’s just how it is so the best thing I can do for my character is to do what women try to do in real life and that’s to be strong, intelligent women. That’s how I tried to portray my character as well.”
Photos courtesy of Sundance and Kalvin Lazarte.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Sundance updates.