By Norman Gidney | April 26, 2018

When an internet company decides to investigate a series of ‘Screamer’ videos, they are confronted with havoc and hell they could never expect.

So this movie is pretty straightforward, #Screamers. Tom (Tom Malloy) and Chris (Chris Bannow) are the happy-go-lucky entrepreneurial buddies that have launched a video sharing website and who, consequently, get a scare video that could send their upstart to the next level. In an attempt to reach out to the senders of the video, they journey down a dangerous, possibly paranormal path. Yet another found footage movie, #Screamers succeeds on the trademark slow buildup, shaky cam POV, and even a few startles, but little else.

You’ve seen those types of videos, right?  The ones where the viewer is supposed to be focused on a quiet, tranquil setting in the distance only to have a monster suddenly pop into frame, inches from the camera, and scream loudly. Well, Giggler, the company that our protagonists have founded, receives a video file via email depicting a young woman in a white gown slowly walking through a cemetery. Out of nowhere, BOOM! A masked figure with Chicklets® teeth Pops into view and blows out the speakers with a sudden, shriek. It strains credulity to think that with all of the hours these two have logged in front of the internet that they haven’t seen that gag before. But I digress.

“…to reach out to the senders of the video, they journey down a dangerous, possibly paranormal path…”

With the help of office brainiac programmer Abbi (Abbi Snee), and office geek Griffin,  (Griffin Matthews) the Giggler team not only tracks down the sender of the video, but the location where it was shot, and more.

Written by and starring Tom Malloy as one half of the tech duo, #Screamers is a slow build to a moderate pay-off. Malloy is effectively smarmy and opportunistic as the creative force behind the company, pushing ever harder for bigger returns at all costs. It should be noted too that Dean Matthew Ronalds’ direction achieves a certain reality in regards to the relationship the main characters have with each other. There is a chemistry there too. Chemistry is what tends to save the film in its duller valleys of exposition and believability.

When the Catfish-like climax comes, after one hour of mounting anticipation, it does the job, but man, that Screamer. So loud. So repetitive. That one scream from the video. Over and over and over. Good lord.

“…props to the cast and their phenomenal chemistry, just give me more.”

I don’t want this to become another one of my rants on the sustainability of the found footage format, but frankly, when it affects the way you are pulled into the story it is hard not to. Shot as a sort of Catfish meets the Office meets Ghost Adventurers, #Screamers is shot as a quasi-doc. We get the on-camera interviews, and the breaking of the fourth wall, the shaky cam footage, the voyeuristic long shots of private conversations. We also get the people running from mortal danger while, inexplicably, still filming shooting video. There are few movies that pull this conceit off with total believability. Let’s be honest. Even The Blair Witch Project failed in this regard.

#Screamers is entertaining enough, doesn’t become too grating, yet it is truly hindered by its obvious constraints. What is here is good, no question, we just need more. We need more story development, more follow through on the mystery, and more reason for the documentation when things go south (Spoiler alert, things go south). Props to the cast and their phenomenal chemistry, just give me more.

#Screamers (2018) Directed by Dean Matthew RonaldsWritten by Tom Malloy and Dean Matthew RonaldsStarring Tom Malloy, Chris Bannow, Griffin Matthews, Emanuela Galliussi, and Abbi Snee

#Screamers gets two stars **

Norm’s Rating System: ****(GREAT) ***(Good) **(Ok) *(Awful)

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