Review: When the Screaming Starts – Documentary Gone Wild

Bloody Hell

A violent take on the documentary scene while being surprisingly insightful

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‘How far will you go to fulfil your dreams?’ is the question hanging over the action in When the Screaming Starts. A dark and gory take on traditional documentaries, a viewer is taken along for a wild ride with an unlikely crew of wannabe serial killers.

When the Screaming Starts introduces Norman (Jared Rogers) the wannabe filmmaker and our eyes into this world, as he tries gallantly to achieve his life goal of being a somebody in the world of gritty exposés. He finds his new and hopefully blockbusting subject, Aiden (Ed Hartland) – he too is a wannabe, but instead is drawn to the temptations of serial killing. Aiden is a relatively likeable man (similar to the kind of person who just slightly underachieved at school and you felt a bit bad for them) and is a great face for Norman’s investigations. With the assistance of his girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell), Aiden makes plans to start his own ‘family’ – or more appropriately named, a cult.

The further we go, the further we realise that some characters are more ambitious than others. While Aiden gives us one of the most compelling screen versions of Poe’s The Raven (close second being The SimpsonsTreehouse of Horror), it becomes unavoidably obvious that he isn’t really interested in murdering, nor is he any good. Norman, on the other hand, is a bloodthirsty visual journalist, so how will they work together to satisfy their own ideas of success? Now that’s the question.

Shot in a typical mockumentary style, When the Screaming Starts comes across as a charming university passion project. It plays to that relatively young, cult audience, with quick wit and humour peppered throughout, and keeps the charm that many mass produced films fail to capture. That isn’t saying that When the Screaming Starts comes across as amateur-ish, but that it oozes with personality and grit that entices an audience within the first five minutes. Echoing the style of The Cornetto Trilogy and notes of Most Haunted, the film is able to capture audiences with well known and well loved feelings.

The acting is superb and each character is well adapted and individual. The Mendle Family, our ragtag gang of wannabe killers, all present something different and has something to attract an audience. While you have to wait quite a while for our big murder scene (hinted in the very beginning using the useful technique of news broadcasting) it is well worth the wait. Each character involved gets their own special moment which is later matched with comedic, short credit scenes. The cast is able to perfect the act of the side eye, and poetically give realistic and human reactions in the background. When the Screaming Starts feels very real and leaves you pensive when it concludes with an individual take on legacy.

The end left me a bit tearful, in fact, as I found myself clutching fake pearls and shouting at the screen. As it turns out, that’s when the screaming starts.

When the Screaming Starts, directed by Conor Boru, celebrated its World Premiere at Frightfest 2021 on 28th August. Watch the trailer below:


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A philosophy student with a penchant for uncertain puns

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