Salem Horror Fest: What Happens Next Will Scare You (2021)

Director: Chris LaMartina

Running Time: 72 Minutes

Starring: Melissa LaMartina, Rachel D. Wilson, Kalima Young, Kathy Carson, Troy Jennings, Johnny Marra, Paul Fahrenkopf, Mike C. Walls

With Halloween drawing closer, the head of a click-bait site asks her employees to share their scariest viral videos for an upcoming listicle. Things get spooky as they watch the selected entries, with their lives threatened by unfolding supernatural activity. Appropriately, this film feels like a listicle as it showcases various spooky clips which don't all live up to the title's promise.

Granted, much of that is appropriate when the initial videos are supposed to be unimpressive and "obviously fake". The hit-rate grows as further clips are shared, with an unsettling dating video from a clown standing out with such simplicity. The promise in a "How-to" video for an Italian exorcism is never fulfilled, while a quartet of videos from a teen vlogger get spookier to teach a macabre lesson. The strongest instalment is an unsettling 911 call, which highlights how the most chilling things can be left to the viewers imaginations.

Stylistically, the footage wonderfully recreates outdated technology and feels ripped from their era. These elements allow one to forgive any subpar acting within this footage, although the same can't be said for those watching the videos. They're meant to embody the typical depiction of snarky hipsters, although some of the cast seem ill-fitting in their roles and more closely resemble Steve Buscemi's undercover student disguise from 30 Rock.

The biggest issues lay within the wraparound, as there's a distinct lack of scares, tension, and emotional investment within these moments. All that replaces them are unsuccessful attempts at humour and half-baked tries at clickbait commentary. There's a point to be made regarding investigative journalism disappearing for clickbait articles when clicks bring in more money than winning awards. The pieces are there, although it needs fleshing out for the point to stick. When the majority of issues lay in the same area, it's clear this film would've worked better as an anthology

What Happens Next Will Scare You played at Salem Horror