When the Screaming Starts had its world premiere at Frightfest 2021 and will get its northern premiere at Grimmfest on 9th October. A comedy horror about a documentary filmmaker who has discovered a wannabe serial killer online and wants to capture his murderous rise to infamy.
Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers) specialises in making ‘award-winning’ documentaries about people living on the fringes of society and has found the perfect subject in Aidan (Ed Hartland) who has a twisted dream to become a serial killer. A perfect person for Norman to film as unlike other true crime TV series this is his opportunity to document a serial killer as it happens.
Norman visits Aidan at his home and so begins the documentary inside a film format following Aidan’s crazy-eyed murderous ambitions through his interviews to camera. We see him lose his job at the cinema because he clearly likes horror films a bit too much as he stabs and twists along to the action. Claire is his similarly disturbed girlfriend with a ‘mutual appreciation for murder’. She tells us how she takes photos to capture people’s souls and keeps them in her scrapbook of death.
Aidan and Claire announce they are going to start a family à la Charles Manson and start the application process interviewing a collection of odd ball candidates to join them. The interview questions are fairly standard: what’s your job, who’s your favourite serial killer? Amongst the candidates being interviewed are a delightfully sinister looking pair of twins (Vår Haugholt and Ronja Haugholt), a food critic (Louise Ann Munro) with a preference for long pig (human flesh) and a yoga teacher (Kavé Niku) with broken English who has possibly turned up at the wrong place.
Once the recruits have been assembled they are moved into a house together to begin their training and first up is weapons training day, which continues with a silly retractable knife gag and sees Jack (Yasen Atour) the geezer trying to suffocate the confused yoga teacher with a plastic bag and then it’s not long before they are ready for their first murder spree together.
The mockumentary style parodies a number of reality shows with interviews telling each character’s back stories assisted by the voice over narrative from Norman himself who seems to be doing his best Louis Theroux impersonation but is as much like Josh Widdacombe. Fans of the UK sitcom ‘The Office‘ will be familiar with the same awkward chats and looks to camera and the opening sequence news clips have a ‘The Day Today‘ look about them with the same irreverent sense of humour as the news presenter announces, ‘When it comes to murder, somebody always ends up getting killed.’
It doesn’t match up to the vampire mockumentary ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ but there is still plenty to enjoy in some of the characters like Jack the deli fishmonger geezer with his lively market patter, Amy (Octavia Gilmore) the dominatrix who really ups the tempo to bring about a spectacularly violent killing spree, and Norman and Aiden’s character arcs eventually bring to the fore their own ambitious natures or lack of them.
As a comedy horror it has plenty of gags to keep audiences amused but without falling off your chair, meanwhile the gore is shockingly intense in parts but in small enough doses to maintain a sense of lighthearted comedic fun throughout the murderous premise.
Film: When the Screaming Starts
Director: Conor Boru
Stars: Ed Hartland, Jared Rogers, Kaitlin Reynell
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Run time: 1hr 28min