#Screamers is a uniquely designed found footage horror film directed by Dean Matthew Ronalds (who I recall acted in the black comedy horror flick Take-Out (2009) from Joe Russo) and assisted in the writing with Tom Malloy. Before you start fidgeting, rolling your eyes or sighing deeply the filmmakers did come up with a more interesting method of telling the storyline using almost narrative and a few common elements from the internet. First, the understanding of the title, involves the net sensation defined by Wikipedia as a “video or application on the Internet that has a sudden change designed to startle the user [with] a scary face and a loud scream. Screamers have been around since at least 1996.” This type of joke, while still around, faded with the passage of time, and frowned upon by overzealous politically correct individuals fearing this tactic as upset or even dangerous to those with health concerns. The flick presents itself as a documentary for a startup company to explain itself to future and potential investors. It all descends into a believable story involving spooky videos, a missing woman, and mysterious locations, along with characters breaking the horror movie rules. Ronalds’ film achieved distribution through Epic Pictures Releasing in 2018.
The movie opens with Griffin (Griffin Matthews) tasked with filming a documentary about a growing company called Gigaler, mainly focusing on the two founders, CEO Tom (Tom Malloy) and Product Developer Chris (Chris Bannow). These men begin explaining their company, trying not to sound dull, while describing their site with the motto “The More You Know Gigaler, The More Gigaler Knows You,” it uses algorithms to learn one’s viewing behaviors, and track all the data (secretively tracking those who upload videos). In fact, Ronalds actually builds a working Gigaler site, as part of the marketing media plan, very inventful for a found footage film. Soon after walking around the well-designed sets similar to that of Google’s corporate office with a foosball table, a #screamer video upload occurs getting laughs and jolts from everyone. Tom takes the lead in wanting an exclusivity deal with the maker as more videos appear believing it’s going to much their website very popular, he leads down a rabbit hole, that makes them Alice in Wonderland. Many interesting elements occur throughout the film and mentioning them likely destroying the film’s illusions for future viewers, not to mention the actors all providing solid performances working to convey a believable situation. Soon they discover that one of the actors is actually a reportedly missing woman named Tara (Theodora Miranne), who stands in the grave of the film which is shot in Rochester, New York at the actual site of Francis Tumblety believed as the real Jack the Ripper, just a few of the subplot storylines running through the film. All of it upsetting Tom who believes it all a waste of time, a big joke on him, while they spent time of the goose chase as part of the Scooby-Doo gang they never lost any money, all goes to show Tom’s fragile ego. Rounding out the team of associates is the character Abbi (Abbie Snee) as focused and reserved no-nonsense mentality, who later stays at her friend’s home Emma (Emanuela Galliussi) as Tom tries to unravel the mystery by going to the home of the individual to made the videos, whose name is Francis, leading to a more frightening conclusion. The characters do make the foolish errors that always occur in horror films, but you’ll to discover them on your own.
While some of the footage is captured via smartphone and with a very nice camera that one would use for documentaries, thereby completing a narrative feel because of the multiple cameras, but thankfully not endless night vision or continuousness low batteries. Another nice element added to the project no title cards or credits, and ends with a series missing posters. However, it still falls into the traps of found footage movies, which include easy seeing the cast in future projects and the sound factors. Concerning the sound design, mostly from music added for ambiance and created suspense during the scenes as well as the even tone captured for the outdoors, if truly found footage then the levels should vary from hard to hear to overly loud.
Everyone who has ever surfed the internet, knows the screamer videos starring at a picture, building, painting or whatever, and you know in the back of your mind you’re part a larger joke, so you brace for it and then wham it happens. Now take that concept and begin hunting down the maker, by capturing their private information, and using it for corporate research, something Francis and Tara don’t enjoy. This all seems fairly relevant nowadays with the social media site Facebook having privacy issues among others. However, the long strung out process of finding and following the cues hurts the overall suspense of the film, though opens a door to a possible sequel. At least the filmmakers sought a new style and desire for the use of the social media and found footage to make the movie more interesting and entertaining.
IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 6/10