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Split Screen (2023) Review

The best way to describe Split Screen is that it’s like Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. It’s two films, one written and directed by Dillon Brown (Ghost, Tahoe Joe) the other by Joshua Brucker (Mothman, The Woodmen) brought together to form a double feature. Only these are both found footage and made for next to nothing. Most importantly, it only runs about half as long as that film did, so you don’t need to bring a lunch with you when you see it.

Hacker Daniel Sanchez (Thomas Burke, The Pizzagate Massacre, Mister Creep) appears on a computer screen to introduce the first of them, Dillon Brown’s “Greys: The Nevada Alien Incident”, which he’s been sent by Brown due to governmental assets trying to prevent its release.

It begins with Brown telling us he’s being watched from two vans across the street and his attempts to upload his footage being blocked. From there, it segues into various other people describing their encounters with The Greys. These progress from a guy who sees lights in the sky and nearly gets his truck blown up, to aliens attacking a rave.

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From there we get the footage of Brown’s own encounters with the creatures and what appear to be government agents willing to use lethal force to keep the footage from getting out. It all ends with a “Keep watching the skies!” type warning from Dr. Phineas Strothmont (Ron Chevarie, The Who Incident, Lights Over Montgomery County).

At just about an hour in length, “Greys: The Nevada Alien Incident” gets Split Screen off to a fairly good start. There are several good scares and a couple of good laughs from an alien who’s startled by a refrigerator and another who uses a pet door. There are also a couple of meta Easter Eggs for those familiar with Brown’s other films. On the other hand, the creatures are a lot more convincing when they’re kept in the distance, and there are the usual moments where you wonder how something was filmed, or why someone kept filming, but as these films go it’s solid.

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Brucker’s“The Illinois Valley Murder Tapes” is Split Screen’s second segment, and Sanchez returns to introduce it as something found on the Dark Web. Rachel (Samantha Hupp) and Noah (Tayler Holler) have a true crime oriented YouTube channel and are investigating a string of disappearances in rural Illinois. They’re not having much luck until Rachel receives an email with videos that look like they’re from the person responsible for the disappearances.

When they get a second email offering a meeting and interview, they of course accept. While you know the meeting didn’t end well, Brucker does toss a twist into things to make they actually went alone and unarmed a bit more believable.

Unlike most films, “The Illinois Valley Murder Tapes” draws its strength from amateurish looking footage rather than its professionalism. Unlike most faux snuff films that look like the killers all went to film school, the footage Rachael and Noah receive looks like something shot by someone who simply points and shoots. And stabs, and bludgeons, and… It gives it an air of realism that makes it more disturbing.

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Sanchez then returns with his doubts about his ability to handle more tapes like that. Until another one arrives, hinting at a Split Screen 2.

If you like found footage and can deal with the microbudget/DIY production values, you should have a good time with Split Screen. The first segment is the stronger of the two and the plot of “The Illinois Valley Murder Tapes” is badly clichéd, but there is more than enough entertainment to be had from the film to make up from it.

Split Screen should be available on Amazon Prime later this month. You can check the Horror Dadz Facebook page for more details.

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