Inventive, gruesome and bloody good fun, When The Screaming Starts is one of those films that creeps up at Frightfest, catches you unawares and then leaves a lasting impression.

Essentially a creative spin on the ‘documentary/mockumentary’ often used to good effect by the genre, the film in essence follows Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers), a down-on-his-luck documentary maker, eager to cash in on the serial killer/true crime craze by coming up with something different.

His idea? To buddy up with wannabe serial killer Aiden Mendle (Ed Hartland) and document his journey to murder, with Aiden’s serial killer crazy girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell) along for the ride.

Trouble is, Aiden talks the talk, but can he walk the walk? And if he can’t, where does that leave Norman’s dream of a ground-breaking documentary?

While there is a whiff of something like 90s effort Man Bites Dog about all this, director Conor Boru nails his colours to the mast very early on, pitching When The Screaming Starts as very much a jet-black comedy – an early montage for example featuring Aiden and Claire playing a serial killer version of retro boardgame favourite ‘Guess Who’.

In fact, the biggest reference I could pick up was more a twisted take on Britcom classic The Office, with Boru nailing those awkward ‘sideways glances at camera’ that Ricky Gervais used so well.

The ensemble cast is great, with a gaggle of memorable characters joining in as Aiden’s groupies, eager to get in on the act and cement their own notorious legacies. Leading the charge here is Octavia Gilmore as Amy, a loose cannon of murderous intent that may well scupper Aiden’s plans.

The film is also genuinely laugh out loud funny at times – now that may be due to me being well read on serial killer culture, thereby picking up the in-jokes littered through the script, but it also comes in the form of unexpected, but welcome, slapstick – and bursts of over-the-top violence.

Yep, Boru certainly doesn’t skimp on the red stuff and it all gets a bit chaotic as things come to a close. There’s also the usual confusion over ‘why would that be filmed/who’s filming that’ which is always a pitfall in this type of project.

Overall though, writer/director Boru – making his feature debut here – has really announced himself as someone to keep an eye on, with When The Screaming Starts one heck of a calling card.

Arrow Video Frightfest Review: When The Screaming Starts
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About The Author

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Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle