Saturday, 6 September 2014

Screen (2013) - Horror Film Review

Screen is a film I discovered while surfing my Twitter feed one day. It seems to be heavily influenced by horror films of the 70's and has a bizarre style to it that is halfway between found footage and traditional film style.

In the early 1970's thirty people were discovered dead at an Oklahoma drive in. On the 40th anniversary of that event in 2012 history repeats with a whole bunch more people found dead in the exact same mysterious circumstances. 24 hours earlier and Lola (Nicole Alonso) a young woman is persuaded to go to a party at a drive in by her old high school friend Carrie (Leslie Andrews) who has recently gotten back in contact via Facebook. As they drive the 300 miles to the party Carrie slowly reveals the true nature of the trip; her grandfather was one of the many people who died in the drive in massacre and so she wants to see the place with her own eyes as well as interview the only survivor of that fateful day. The night of the party arrives and horror ensues...

Screen is filmed in a really weird voyeuristic way where even when static shots are employed there is a sense of unease of being watched. Carrie films her life daily for a weird blog she keeps so a lot of the footage is shown from the perspective of her camera, but more traditional shots are not done with a stedi-cam either which creates an unsettling feeling that the characters are unknowingly never alone. It creates a sense of paranoia that in this modern day where everyone has access to cameras that nowhere can you really be alone. Even in a motel room the characters joke that they are being watched in a 2 way mirror and during a sex scene the camera pulls back to show even that is being filmed.

Screen is split into three distinct parts with a title screen for each one. The Road Trip is the first chapter that has Lola and Carrie en route to the ill fated drive in. Even here there is a sense of unease as Carrie's slow reveal of secret information and her odd actions make you wonder if this character can be trusted. The middle part is titled The Drive In and has the duo arriving at the site of the party where they interview local people to see if they know anything about the massacre that occured in the 1970's. The final part titled The Party is where the creeping dread sets in with the anticipation of this deadly event ever on your mind leaving you unable to relax, This is not helped by the bad vibe that is given off during the party (expertly captured is the feeling that something bad is going to happen at any moment).

What Screen does well is gives plenty of explanations for what exactly happened. There are numerous theories passed around, everything from paranormal activity to suicide cults and serial killers. I loved that no explanation is actually ever given, instead you the viewer are left to decide in your own head what has happened. The music used is very good, creepy and more traditional than the usual variety of dull rock songs used in horror films of this type nowadays. David Paul Baker does a great job of directing, I loved the retro style to Screen while the acting is very good at least for the main characters.

At just over an hour long there is not really enough time for things to drag but I still felt the actual party part went on slightly too long, a sub plot involving some creepy guys in gas masks got mixed up for me with the main plot. I also feel it would have been better to not even have the intro scene in which the F.B.I discover the corpses of the party goers as it took away the mystery of what was going to happen. My last criticism is that it all ends a bit too abruptly.

Screen despite sharing similarities with John Carpenter's Masters of Horror episode 'Cigarette Burns' feels original and proves you don't need lashings of violence and blood when the mere threat of this happening is enough to keep the fear simmering. A unique looking and interesting film indeed.


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