Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – When the Screaming Starts

My notes on When the Screaming Starts

The hook of this British comedy/horror hybrid is similar to those of Man Bites Dog and Behind the Mask The Rise of Leslie Vernon, as earnest, pretentious, coiffed documentary filmmaker Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers) makes a deal with aspiring serial killer Aidan Mendle (co-writer Ed Hartland) to chronicle his bloody progress.  A snag occurs when, despite the urging of his more sociopathic girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell), Aidan can’t quite get to the actually murdering people part of being a serial killer, even as he sets up scenarios with handy potential victims.

Change of plans – instead of becoming a cross between Ted Bundy and Michael Myers, Aidan decides to model himself on Charles Manson and recruit a family who will worship him as a dark god and go out to commit a cinegenic slaughter spree on his behalf.  His ad brings in a selection of not-exactly-inspiring candidates – good to see the excellent Michael Shon as one of the unsuccessful applicants – but a bizarre krewe does come together.  Besides creepy twins Viktoria and Veronika (Vår and Ronja Haugholt), barrow-boy Jack (Yasen Atour) and not-with-the-program Masoud (Kavé Niku), Aidan and Claire recruit full-on goth sociopath Amy (Octavia Gilmore), who has her own diabolical agenda.

Of course, as with many mock-docs, the biggest monster in the film is the guy trying to get a career boost from tagging along with this mix of foul-up fantasists and genuine psychos.  It’s a familiar point, which has been made about any number of real-life documentarians from Robert Flaherty onwards, but is still well-taken.  Rogers manages supreme smarm as the exploitative filmmaker, while Hartland plays a bumbling, clueless loser who can’t even make it as a demented outsider … and the film gets plenty of laughs by catching up with the variously twisted or on-the-wrong-page followers brought into the family (Masoud thinks he’s signed up for a yoga group).  Co-written and directed by Conor Boru.

Here’s the Frightfest listing.


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