Video Killer is a 74 minute film, written and directed by Richard Mansfield. It tells the story of Amy, who receives a VHS tape and soon after realises that she is being stalked by a masked figure. We go on to learn that she must track down other victims in order to try and work out who is trying to kill them, and her.
The film itself follows the journey of five different characters who are only connected by the situation they find themselves in. When they are filming themselves, trying to find “it”, you find yourself searching every inch of the frame for a glimpse of the masked figure. Some of the characters’ journeys end quite unexpectedly and you soon realise that it is mainly Amy’s story that’s the focus.
The credits at the beginning of Video Killer give you a creepy glimpse of the masked figure and feature snippets of the forthcoming film. The music and the credits themselves are in an 80’s style, which look like a throwback to 80’s arcade games. They also have a grainy, VHS-feel to them so were a great set up for the feature film. As I’ve just been to FrightFest, it put me in the mind of the awesome Beyond the Gates.
The visual style of the film is handheld footage from camera phones, combined with some shots from a stand-alone camera. This works well in many found footage-style films and it certainly suits this particular feature.
The music is effective throughout, ranging from heart-pounding to ear-piercing, depending upon the type of scare Mansfield is trying to produce. When giving this film a watch, my advice is to turn the music to full volume as it is bound to give you the chills and shock in equal measure.
The VHS tapes received by the victims have cartoons on them. I personally loved this as it is something so different to what you’d expect, and the cartoons themselves really work well.
My favourite scene was when we saw Michael in the woods, spinning his camera phone in a circle, trying to catch a glimpse of the masked figure and he suddenly appears behind him. Michael was my favourite victim because most of his scenes were in a wood, which are always scary, even in daylight. Blair Witch has taught us that.
There was also a kitchen scene that honestly made me jump, where the masked figure appears at the glass back door. Also, doors opened by themselves on a few occasions. I know horror uses this trope a lot, but there is something genuinely disconcerting about a door that opens by itself. I mean, who’s not afraid of the idea of ghosts, spirits or poltergeists? Exactly.
There is a nice twist at the end too, which I won’t spoil for you. There were still unanswered questions, but sometimes those things that are unexplained are the scariest.
There were a few problems with the film, such as the mask used by the killer (who as it goes, wasn’t particularly scary to me). It’s been used in other films, most notably Night of Something Strange, which was shown at FrightFest. Also, for a film made in London, all of the characters were white, middle class and used RP. The extra footage shown after the cartoons did lose me a bit — I wasn’t sure what the point of some of it was as it was never explained. Finally, the tape from the videos showing the attacks on the victims looked almost a bit comical, and perhaps wasn’t as scary as it could have been.
That being said, there are some great camera angles, particularly during the park scenes, the writing and characters are believable – for example, being an adult doesn’t mean you suddenly stop being afraid — and it’s overall a great story.
To sum up, I enjoyed Video Killer and would happily watch it again. I believe Mansfield has created something interesting, enjoyable, original and most importantly, at points, scary.
Video Killer is now available to buy from Mansfield Dark productions.
By Catherine Dunn (@toodamncat)
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