★★★★ out of ★★★★★
U.K. horror comedy When the Screaming Starts skewers the lengths to which some people will go to try to achieve fame. Whether you are in the mood to see such people receive their comeuppance or if you just want to have some belly laughs while you get creeped out, put this blood-soaked mockumentary on your need-to-see list.
Directed by Conor Boru
Some documentary filmmakers seem to want to spend as much time in front of the camera as their subjects. Norman Graysmith (Jared Rogers) is one such person. He thinks he has found his ticket to fame in aspiring serial killer Aidan Mendle (Ed Hartland) and hitches his wagon to Aidan’s star. With Conor Boru’s When the Screaming Starts (U.K., 2021) being a mockumentary, you can guess that this plan goes awry — and oh, how it does.
Aidan and his zealous girlfriend Claire (Kaitlin Reynell) hatch a plan to recruit murderous cult members to form a Manson-family–like group to do his evil bidding. After going through interview sessions, Aidan settles on the likes of spooky twins Viktoria and Veronika (Vår and Ronja Haugholt) — imagine if the sisters in The Shining lived to grow to their twenties — street vendor Jack (Yasen Atour), yoga enthusiast Masoud (Kavé Niku), and assertive psychotic Amy (Octavia Gilmore). On the first night of bloodshed, Amy steers the show, leading to friction between the group members and Aidan.
The screenplay by Boru and Ed Hartland is as sharp as some of the murder weapons on display in the film, making for plenty of fine satire to accompany the slicing on hand. The ensemble cast is terrific, all playing their roles believably, adding authenticity to the proceedings. The laughs come fast and often, with a bit of well-timed seriousness driving a point or two home. Dark and edgy with characters who are easy to like — despite their predilection for taking people’s lives — When the Screaming Starts is a highly entertaining horror comedy with bite.
Review by Joseph Perry
When the Screaming Starts screened at FilmQuest, which ran October 29–November 6, 2021 in Provo, Utah, with a virtual version from October 29–November 14.