Review: Schemers


Though the plot isn't the most adventurous, Schemers tells a memorable story using nostalgic prompts and brilliant casting.

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Produced by Black Factory Films and Munro Films, Schemers is the first full-length feature to be made in Dundee. That may not seem like much an achievement at first, but the film itself jokes about Dundee’s location being often unknown and irrelevant as it tells the true story of David McLean, who also wrote, directed and produced this debut film.

The plot is pretty simple: it focuses on McLean (Conor Berry) and his two friends, John (Grant Robert Keelan) and Scot (Sean Conor), trying to earn some cash after he suffers from a football injury. Their go-to ideas are to start arranging gigs, so that’s exactly what they do.

Their boisterous antics are what makes Schemers such good fun. From the very start, Schemers presents itself as a light-hearted, enjoyable watch. Elements of Trainspotting are instantly recognisable, as the film opens with McLean running from someone with the frame freezing whilst he explains how he ended up in this situation.

Without giving too much away, the plot points sprinkled throughout, all lead up to the biggest event the boys are devising to date: Iron Maiden. It is the planning of the Iron Maiden gig where the film gains most of its hilarity. As the countdown begins for the start of the show, our inexperienced schemers rush around, realising the things they had not read on the contract. It sums up the youthful ignorance that the boys are relying on throughout the film’s antics.

This youthful ignorance was also assisted in the excellent casting. As David, Conor Berry puts in a charismatic performance as he pulls off the ever increasing boisterous acts of McLean. Perhaps this was aided due to the direction of McLean himself, where his own story likely would have allowed him to offer some helpful tips.

Watching the film without knowing the context behind it, it would not stand out particularly. There are no exciting plot twists or jump scares, and it just simply follows the lives of three men in the 80s. But knowing the success that McLean achieved later in his career – working with iconic bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Pearl Jam – it makes for a heart-warming and humorous to watch.

As well as the excellent casting and lovable characters, it also does a fantastic job in presenting a nostalgic aura through its colours and soundtrack. Watching Schemers, it’s hard to believe it was filmed in a world of smartphones and bright lights, when its colour palette sticks neatly to duller tones. The soundtrack assists in this nostalgic feel and will definitely appeal to viewers who grew up during the 80s (and also lovers of music from that age).

If you’re looking for something light-hearted and fun, with its fair share of relatable and cringe-worthy moments, Schemers has to be on top of your list. Though its plot isn’t the most adventurous, it tells McLean’s story wonderfully and is bound to make you laugh as you’re transported into the 80s music business.

Schemers, directed by David Mclean, is distributed in the UK via Riverman Management, certificate 15. It will be out in cinemas on September 25th. Watch the trailer below:


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Live Editor 2019/20 & third year English student. Probably watching Gilmore Girls

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