Now playing in select cities and On Demand from Dread Central and Epic Pictures; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!
Directed by Dean Matthew Ronalds
Written by Dean Matthew Ronalds & Tom Molloy
Starring Tom Malloy, Chris Bannow, Griffin Matthews, Emanuela Galliussi, Theodora Miranne, Abbi Snee
Find out more about this film here
The use of the jump scare has been beaten to death in modern cinema (mostly by films with the Blumhouse banner at the beginning). It’s an understandably effective mode of scaring someone. Lull someone into a false sense of security with silence and a slow moving camera, and then stimulate the fight or flight portion of the brain with a sudden loud burst of sound and a quick edit. I have to say, the jump scare gets me quite a bit even still. Even if I know when it’s coming, it still usually works on me. #SCREAMERS could be called a bit of a one trick pony. It utilizes the same jump scare over and over and over again. But what it does right is surround those jumps with a pretty competent story and cast, which made me like it more than I probably should.
I’m going to forgo the found footage questionnaire with this one, mainly because I feel I have more to talk about this found footage style film that I do others. But against my criteria, the film breaks a couple fundamental rules of the found footage format that anyone who has read my found footage reviews before will know I deem as a foul. There is a subtle, but present use of music in this film and if we are to believe in the immediacy of the images we see in the frame, this would require some kind of invisible orchestra to be right off camera and I don’t think there was one. The added music is very subtle, but it’s there and I think it takes away from the film to be completely honest. A silent buildup would have been much more effective than quiet ominous music here. There is also an inexplicable edit from one camera to the next. Now, someone might have constructed this whole piece together (namely, the killer, as he does construct videos in the universe of the film itself), but with there being no disclaimer at the beginning or the end of this film claiming that the film you are about to see was found and uploaded to the internet by an anonymous source, we are forced to come to that conclusion for the filmmaker rather than experience it.
But those two gaffs didn’t kill the film for me as the acting is pretty solid and natural throughout. The film follows two entrepreneurs who start a Youtube-like channel called Gigaler which imports content and provides it to fans. When an anonymous source sends them a creepy video that ends with someone screaming into the camera and sending the viewer darting backwards in their chair, they feel they’ve got a hit video on their hands. When the video gets thousands of hits, they try to track down the maker of the video, but they aren’t forthcoming in starting a partnership with the company and providing them with exclusive content. So the team, eager to track down the poster is able to discern where the videos are coming from and take a field trip to the locale to ask them face to face. This, of course, is a bad idea.
The natural acting and hand held camera work really does set up the mood for a sort of CATFISH situation. In fact, the team even jokes about CATFISH in the film itself. Like many of you, I was caught up in the CATFISH phenomenon, buying into the misguided ad campaign that we were watching a horror film when in fact we were just watching a documentary. For those who were disappointed in CATFISH hoping the crew were wandering into a trap, #SCREAMERS is the movie for you. The film does a great job of building up the tension. Starting small, slow, and relatively harmlessly, the film does a great job of lulling the viewer into some kind of comfort zone as we get to know the characters and the organization they work in before plunging us into the terror.
For me, the terror is palpable and set up really well. Even though the horror plays out almost the same every time, the film itself between the jump scares does a great job of making it work. And it takes talent to do that—talent that one usually doesn’t see in a found footager which usually is made cheaply and as a stepping stone for better things for the filmmakers. #SCREAMERS got me every time. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it did. For those who aren’t sick of found footagers and don’t mind repetition, #SCREAMERS might be the film for you.
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