When the Screaming Starts - New Release Review
Director: Conor Boru
Starring: Ed Hartland, Jared Rogers, Octavia Gilmore, Kaitlin Reynell
Written by: Conor Boru, Ed Hartland
Produced by: Conor Boru, Ed Hartland, Jared Rogers, Dom Lenoir
Cinematography by: Adrian Musto
Original Score by: Michael Palmer
When a documentarian is invited into the home of an aspiring serial killer, he believes he has the subject for the documentary that will make his career.
Like the found footage sub-genre, mockumentaries, when done correctly can be some of the most entertaining films to watch. However when they are poorly executed, the final outcome can be a cringe-worthy mess. Thankfully 'When the Screaming Starts' doesn't fall into the latter description and although it's far from perfect it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Ambitious journalist filmmaker Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers) is eager to put himself on the map with a film that will kick off his career and has managed to secure his next subjects, Aidan Mendle and his girlfriend Claire, who are both aspiring serial killers. Norman wishes to document their journey and Aidan and Claire have zero issues about being filmed confessing their hunger to become killers and planning their actual practices.
If you can get passed this nonsensical premise then you're probably going to have a great time watching 'When the Screaming Starts'. Conor Boru's debut feature film obviously isn't supposed to be taken seriously, it's a parody on the hard-hitting Louis Theroux style documentaries that many people became addicted to not that long ago and that Netflix still seem to be addicted in producing. But it's also an homage to some of the best mockumantary films and television shows ever to grace the screen like 'This is Spinal Tap' and of course 'The Office'. This isn't on either of their level but it definitely delivers some hilarious situations and one-liners, particularly in the first half of the film. I think one of my favourites moments is when Aidan states that "what you wear sends out a message" and ends up getting geared out in black bomber jacket and balaclava but then falteringly admits to Norman, "too IRA?".
Aidan is portrayed by Ed Hartland, co-writer and producer of the film, and he plays the character just like an everyday man wanting to live out his dream. A former guitarist in a death metal rock band and a recently let go employee of his local cinema, Aidan is down to Earth and very relatable and he definitely does not look like a serial killer. You could easily swap out the 'serial killer' part and change it with 'actor' or 'singer' and the story would still feel the same, with the obvious changes to the set-up. The fact that he wants to be a famous serial killer seems to be just accepted as normal practice and that's part of what makes the film so funny.
"Because when it comes to murder, someone always ends up getting killed!"
The plot thickens further when Aidan and Claire announce to Norman that they want to create their own family to which Norman assumes means a child. Nope. The couple want to produce their own version of The Manson Family and are soon holding interviews, with the same mundane air of a standard job interview, to elect members of their new "family". Hilarity ensues but eventually they whittle it down to a small handful of people, all of who have their own reasons for joining and individual credentials, but one new member in particular, Amy (Octavia Gilmore) begins to use her life experiences and her obsession with the macabre to take over proceedings from Aidan. After a brutal but hilarious killing spree at a special extended family dinner event, Aidan begins to question himself yet again and Norman is overjoyed at capturing the unprecedented events on film.
'When the Screaming Starts' is a cleverly written dark comedy that knows exactly what it is and what it's trying to say. A wink and a nod to the ever growing fascination with serial killers and the need to be famous. It doesn't quite commit 100% to the mockumentary feel as it doesn't really feature crew members and there's inconsistency with camera angles and blah blah blah.
The lightheartednesss of the film is thrown to the side in the the third act as it attempts to create a dark and shocking finale, which honestly isn't that dark or shocking at all and tonally sort of felt a little out of place. Still a great watch with some fantastic performances from the cast.
- Gavin Logan
Signature Entertainment presents 'When the Screaming Starts' on Digital Platforms September 26th