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Review: SCRAWL (2015)

Filmed in 2014 and intermittently playing the festival circuit ever since, Peter Hearn’s Scrawl has finally gotten a US release. Most likely because of current Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley’s brief appearance in the film. Is it an overlooked gem, or a skeleton that should have stayed in her closet?

Simon Goodman (Liam Hughes) and Joe Harper (Joe Daly) are two teenage lads stuck in a nowhere seaside town somewhere in England. With nothing else to do with their time, they create a comic, Scrawl. They’re hoping to get themselves noticed, especially by the local females. A photographer Annie (Annabelle Le Gresley) with a dark secret becomes involved, as does Rosie (Ellie Selwood), Joe’s sister.


All seems to be going well until a stranger, Hannah (Daisy Ridley) appears and people start dying. Their deaths mirroring events in the comic. Can the boys stop whatever is going on before it gets the massacre they wrote on page 21?

Shot on an almost nonexistent budget with the help of student actors and filmmakers from Andover College, Scrawl is an odd beast. With its distinctly off-kilter plotting and the look of several scenes, it frequently reminded me of one of the more bizarre genre films from the 70s. For example, the scene where Jenny (PennyJo Koviou) finds the apartment building’s hidden floor and meets The Caretaker (Derek Jones) and his assistant Leonard (Matty Crawford). They were originally a much bigger part of the plot, but unfortunately, Jones died during filming.

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This approach to plotting however has the downside of making Scrawl hard to follow at times, especially at the beginning. It bounces around between people you don’t know and between events in the film’s timeline. More than once I found myself unsure of just what was going on, and if what I was seeing had happened, was happening or was yet to happen.

Taken as an offbeat bit of student film making, there’s certainly some fun to be had with Scrawl. And it does end with an energetic last act filled with practical, if very low tech, effects. If you want a conventional horror film, however, you probably won’t be happy with this film.

Wild Eye Releasing has released Scrawl on VOD, Streaming, and DVD (Walmart only). You can check for other release information on its Facebook page.

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