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  When the Screaming Starts How Much Fun Is Serial Murder?
Year: 2021
Director: Conor Boru
Stars: Ed Hartland, Jared Rogers, Kaitlin Reynell, Octavia Gilmore, Yasen Atour, Var Haugholt, Ronja Haugholt, Kave Niku, Stuart Vincent, Phil Ross, Steve Hodgetts, Nesba Henshaw, Jay Olver Yip, Rob Tofield, Patrick Marley, Elliot Thomas, Louise Ann Munro
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is documentarian Norman (Jared Rogers) who has a couple of awards to his name, but no breakthrough - until now, with a fresh subject that has never been followed before. He is Aidan (Ed Hartland), and he has big plans for his career, not a financial career but a serial killing career, something he has been considering for some time and is now ready to take the plunge (plunging a knife into someone's chest, that is). Norman will capture this with his camera crew as they trace Aidan, and his loyal girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell) who is if anything even more of a ghoul than he is, as they draw up a scheme for his first murder. Unless the cat that Aidan accidentally shot in his back garden counts? Some count them as people.

You get the idea, When the Screaming Starts was essentially Man Bites Dog again, only even more irreverent, but that's not to say it did not contain a serious message, amounting to a lesson that an interest in serial killers as entertainment tends to ignore the victims in lieu of a weird respect for the criminals. Aidan is the worst kind of edgelord, in that he obsesses over the details of real crimes and decides this nihilism is the correct demeanour to adopt, though we are asked to consider whether he is preferable to the people who kill other people since he is too much of a coward to actually do the deed himself. That posits the scenario that if you're all mouth and no trousers when it comes to breaking the law, you have less integrity than the genuine bad guys.

Whereas good sense would tell you that the criminals who killed should be regarded as the lowest of the low, parasites like Aidan somehow are lower on the circles of Hell, despite as we see if they are ignored then they would be harmless since if nobody listened to them, they would have no power, even as a misfit magnet for social disdain - every society needs its scapegoats, after all, but Aidan can't even reach that level. His big idea, since his attempts at murder flounder pathetically, is to start his own version of the Charles Manson Family, with himself as the head, so boosted by Claire he sets about interviewing for recruits. The respondents are largely a clueless bunch (including one chap who thinks it's a yoga club), but there's a Joker in the pack named Amy (Octavia Gilmore) who is truly dangerous and unhinged thanks to unresolved daddy issues and a sense of upper-class entitlement.

This class element is not something you would get so much in other countries' serial killer movies, spoofs or otherwise, and adds a few points of interest, but in the main the relationship between the observer and the observed was what concerned the film, in the connection between Norman and Aidan, who are both losers, but seeing as how Norman has a camera, it gives him a status that he has not earned, but has been awarded him. If he did not have that technology, he would be simply some creepy guy eavesdropping on a bunch of weirdos, though it had to be said, you did notice when the unseen camera crew picked up impossible shots like over the shoulder exchanges which by all rights should have seen the cameras in plain sight. But there was a slight air of unreality about this anyway, thanks to the sense of humour that followed in the footsteps of Christopher Guest and a few nods to Ricky Gervais, that never had you convinced you were watching a real documentary. Fortunately, a uniformly excellent cast, right down to the smaller roles, obviously knew the language of the mockumentary and were able to prompt more laughs than a potentially unsavoury subject should have provided.

[When the Screaming Starts celebrated its World Premiere at FrightFest 2021 on 28th August.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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