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When the Screaming Starts

Utterly hilarious, but still satisfying as a horror film, “When the Screaming Starts” is a must-watch with a pitch-perfect cast.


If you’re still obsessed with the ever-popular mockumentary subgenre, you’re in excellent company. With incredible film and television examples like The Office, Man Bites Dog, Parks and Recreation, and What We Do in the Shadows handling their original takes so very well, it’s hard not to fall madly in love and stay that way.

When the Screaming Starts is brought to you by director Conor Boru in the form of a horror-comedy mockumentary. But does it do any justice to this already well-worked subgenre, or are you better of simply re-watching your old favorites?

This is the story of Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers), an alleged “award-winning” documentary filmmaker looking for his next big project and (hopefully) the break that will truly put him on the map.

He eventually decides to capture the life and career of a wannabe serial killer named Aiden Mendele (Ed Hartland). But, unfortunately, there’s one slight hitch in the plan. Good old Aiden has yet to successfully kill anyone, much to the great disappointment of his serial killer groupie girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell).

Throughout the film, Aiden tries and tries to make his dream of becoming a killer with finesse a reality. Each time he fails spectacularly.

Finally, he decides that perhaps he’s less of a Ted Bundy type and more of a Charles Manson kind of guy. He promptly begins assembling a cultish Manson-style “family” in the hopes that they’ll be able to succeed where he has failed. Meanwhile, Norman’s role as the resident documentarist slowly but surely leads him into increasingly dark territory.

Now, would-be viewers must understand that When the Screaming Starts is very much a comedy film, and it does succeed at being extremely funny.

Aiden’s ineptitude at being a serial killer is truly epic and is just about guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

The opening scene – which juxtaposes Aiden’s fantastically clumsy approach to killing with some well-placed geese – lets you know right away what kind of ride you’re in for. And the rest of the film also lives up to the expectations set by that scene in a satisfying way.

Conor Boru does double duty as both director and co-writer (alongside Ed Hartland), really nailing both roles on a level that gives this film panache and spice.

However, a large part of what makes this film work so well is the talent in front of the camera, as each of these incredible actors does a fantastic job of bringing their respective characters to life. These are actors who are not only very talented but who’ve wisely been allowed to bring a bit of their own creativity to their roles, and it works on every level.

For instance, Ed Hartland really shines as would-be serial killer Aiden, making him incredibly likable despite his aspirations.

His lovable nervousness and twitchiness make the viewer wonder whether he truly grasps the magnitude of what he says he wants to become. You feel for him and genuinely hope no harm comes to him despite yourself.

Jared Rogers is another bright spot as deluded filmmaker Norman, perhaps the true villain of the film.

But honestly, the entire cast is incredible, with each performance memorable in its own way. The ultimate result is a true gem you don’t want to miss.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

When the Screaming Starts is a satisfying, creative blend of laugh-out-loud hilarity and appropriate grisly moments that aptly remind you that you are indeed watching a horror film. As much fun as there is to enjoy here, Boru also understood when to shift the tone and darken things up, doing so at precisely the right moment. The result is a film that leaves you entertained while giving you plenty of substance to think about.

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