Found Footage Review – not the older sci-fi creeper.
Are you old enough to remember the weird ‘screamer’ videos that were all the rage for a few months years back? This is around 2000 some time. Let me refresh your memory – the biggest one of them was seemingly a car ad. We see a vehicle cruising on a winding road from afar, it’s a beautiful setting and it seems to be getting us ready for the pitch when all of a sudden there’s a shrill AHHHHH! scream and a zombie pops up in front of the camera. It was really effective…that first time. After that first time though it was eyerolling and it got so that every other random video was a screamer.
It was a fad, of sorts, but it ran its course pretty quickly.
What #Screamers does is to examine the What If aspect of these shock videos, and it’s a pretty good idea. Let’s see how it comes together.
We begin #Screamers behind the cameras of a team that is documenting the rise of a new internet platform that wants to be a rival to the likes of YouTube that curates what you see when you head to their page. We get to know the two men behind this site and the rest of the people that form their core team as they try to become the next ‘killer app’. While filming is going on though the team gets a video submission to their site that purports to be the suicide of a young woman but as they watch the film culminates in a screamer shock. The team loves it and after it is posted it starts to go viral and they try to figure out how best to capitalize on things. Just as they are talking about what to do though they get another video with the same girl and same ghoulish jump scare in a different scenario. The group decides they are going to try to get this woman and her partner under contract to produce these solely for the site. They track the woman down and she doesn’t want anything to do with their offers and is worried her partner will find out she’s speaking to them. A plan is formed to head out to the woman’s home to confront her about the video and see if they can strongarm her into working with them and, despite how dangerous a tact like this could be, they head out to get to the bottom of this mystery. As they learn more and more about the young woman in the video though they start to question how badly they want this exclusive contract and if the cost to their safety is worth it.
As I said, the set up is fantastic and the film is done really well in how it builds itself through the first half. It’s almost a shame that we can’t just ‘discover’ what movies have to show us anymore because what the movie begins as and what it becomes is something that could be an interesting surprise for an unaware viewer. The shift in the film works well, too, with this group decding to investigate these videos and see what is behind them. The big problem here is that we are given NO answers whatsoever when it comes to what is going on and why. Sure, there’s scares, there’s ‘answers’ but none of it ties together or compels you or PROPELS the film. It’s like they had a great idea for the movie, and a ‘clever’ title but that was it. They didn’t know how to tie it all together. What you get then is half of a really good movie, another third that is pretty decent, and then a wrap up that is awful. The climax makes no sense and has nothing to say about what we’ve been watching. There could have been a really creepy way to pull this all together but instead we get the usual OH MY GOD, THINGS ARE HAPPENING sort of found footage ending that litters this subgenre.
The film is fun for most of its run. The company profile video stuff is great. The two men that lead the company are fascinating and really make you believe they believe their own hype. There is a genuinely interesting movie here but it needed an ending. This is a good movie with an awful ending and lots of gaps in logic. It’s filmed well, the flows well, and the actors are engaging but man alive, when it goes off the rails, it is OFF!
With the Dread Central brand behind this I am sure they get a lot more looks than other films of similar ilk, and that’s fine, but it’s a shame that it wasn’t a better movie being offered. We have enough found footage movies that can’t stick the landing, we certainly didn’t need another.
Worth a look if you’re a diehard but don’t expect much from the end because, phew, brother, it’s frustrating. Super curious as to what they were thinking when they made it and what they thought the ending meant.
2 out of 5
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