Review – I Scream on the Beach!

Grace from Film Overload takes a look at our first feature screening of the 2020 festival I Scream on the Beach!, available to watch at this years festival on 30 October 2020 at 13.30pm.

Homage to 80’s slashers brings blood soaked nostalgia to Southend-on-sea

Alexander Churchyard and Michael Holiday bring back eighties nostalgia in their latest film, I Scream on the Beach! Filmed at the infamous Essex seaside Southend-on-Sea we are introduced to the fictional sleepy town of Mellow Coast, where Emily (Hannah Paterson) is still grieving the mysterious loss of her father years prior. Unfortunately, for Emily her friends and rather cruel mother dismiss her suspicions surrounding the cryptic circumstances that her father ‘disappeared’ under.

It’s no secret that eighties culture has become somewhat of a surging trend recently, with films commonly replicating those vintage aesthetics. I Scream on the Beach! utilises this quality to manifest a magnificently rambunctious tale set over thirty years in the past in 1980s Britain. Churchyard and Holiday capture the nostalgia both technically and narratively, with ensuring the mention of video nasties and the moral crusader Mary Whitehouse. With this being said the film could be described as a homage to the once controversial VHS tapes that ‘plagued’ the nation, with the film embracing gore and purposefully featuring the grainy and distracting qualities that came with said tapes.

The recreation of VHS trademarks is cleverly executed and surprisingly challenging. Throughout the film the visuals are constantly washed with the classic worn down visual characteristics that were common with used tapes, alongside this is the out of sync dubbing that’s a token to nearly every eighties film. Although these techniques may weigh heavy on some, it’s what gives I Scream on the Beach! its overall thematic vibe.

In keeping with the reminiscent tone the horror legend Lloyd Kaufman makes an appearance as the enigmatic Dr. Lloyd. Kaufman’s cameo helps harness onto the eighties sensationalism, with him famously co-directing alongside Michael Herz the absolute horror classic, The Toxic Avenger (1984). Kaufman’s appearance is one of the many features that keenly highlights the passion project elements that this film fruitfully adapts.

Whilst the technical aspects draw the viewer in, what also keeps the audience guessing is the likeable nature of the lead characters (which can be pretty rare within horror). First we have the playful ‘Bants (Ross Howard) and the film aficionado Jeremy (Jamie Evans), followed by Bants girlfriend and Emily’s friend Claudine (Rosie Kingston) as a group the friendship dynamic comes across as realistic, with no awkward flow. But the true chemistry between characters comes from Emily and her budding romance with newcomer Dave (Reis Daniel).

To accompany the feasible bonds is the decent acting that is consistent throughout. Another aspect that I Scream on the Beach! effectively lands is the steady humour that hits on every beat. The warm character’s inner banter is genuinely comedic and quite familiar to many audiences. Yet, the amusing tone doesn’t distract from the terror, but compliments the tone instead.

To solely rely on classic horror and not create an original and expressive narrative to coincide with the theme is regrettably quite common within similar films. However the film works entirely as a standalone concept besides the vintage aesthetics. It’s this element that makes it stand out from the rest and succeed within the genre.

The entire story is not only effective within its portrayal of horror, but also relatively unique, with not many films being able to pull off the sort of twists and turns that Churchyard and Holiday achieve. This is what makes I Scream on the Beach! so entertaining, it’s the fact that it carefully balances humour and horror.

Catch I Scream on the Beach! at this years festival on 30 October 2020 at 13.30pm.

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