Death by Exposition

I caught the found footage flick #Screamers last night (now streaming on Amazon), based on the fact that I enjoyed the hell out of another Dread Central Presents joint (Terrifier) and the whole "tech nerds hunting an evil viral video maker" premise seemed fun. Despite some decent performances, solid justifications for continuing to film when creepy stuff happens, and the sheer joy in seeing annoying startup gurus get murdered, the whole thing seemed like a donkey-brained waste of time. And a lot of that stems from the fact that there's too much exposition.

Something on the order of the first fifteen minutes of the film are devoted to a "documentary" where we meet the various personages involved in Gigaler, an awkwardly-named YouTubish startup (based in Cleveland because BUDGET). The employees are varying degrees of charming, their banter isn't bad, and the set design is pitch-perfect. But nothing that happens in the first fifteen minutes makes me think I'm watching a horror movie. Imagine if Blair Witch was just shopping at REI for backpacks, making GORP, and Heather doing an improv class or something and no one got to the woods until the third act. And no one MENTIONED the witch until the second.

Yeah, that's what #Screamers is doing.

Sci-fi and fantasy often (and rightly) get criticized for info-dumping on their audience, and that's basically what this movie is doing. I'm kind of surprised they didn't start with Tom and Chris signing an office lease or filling out incorporation paperwork. Point is it's the WRONG place to start the movie, and there's nothing creepy or unsettling (for the audience--Griffin whose title is probably 'social media ninja' is apparently weirded out by milk). Eventually, Griffin finds a stupid jump-scare video that was already dated in the early '00s and everyone up to the execs thinks it's going to put Gigaler on the map.

Uh, no.

Add in some nonsense about a Jack the Ripper suspect and, well, the less said the better. Since the film centers on a viral video, the best place to start would be with the video itself. Two minutes of conversation about Gigaler's finances (and that was a major missed opportunity to increase tension and justify the dunderheaded way Tom goes about, well, everything he does--they're desperate for traffic because they're weeks away from closing their doors and no one knows but the founders) and history could have supplanted fifteen minutes of fake documentary. Cut all that shit and then maybe they could have worked in a scare in the first few minutes.

Or, you know, at all.