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How Many Times Can You Scream?

Just like a classic slasher villain, The Scream franchise refuses to die. Wes Craven's meta serial killer horror mystery thriller set the ghostface killer in motion in 1996 and now 25 years later, we're staring down a reboot in 2022. Slashers typically have some good replay value and whether you kill the masked villain off or not, it seems inconsequential as long as one can rise up in their place.

The original film starred Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox and let's not forget Drew Barrymore and Matthew Lillard. The headline trio of Campbell, Arquette and Cox have returned for the reboot also named Scream. You'd think that 'Ghostface' would be a good title for the franchise resurrection but the producers are looking to capture the brand's audience rather than trying to create something shiny and new.

At least Scream 4 tried something by reworking the title into SCRE4M a decade ago, delivering a fairly lacklustre return in spite of reassembling the original team. Featuring the same actors as this reboot, which actually hinges on the original's lore, it's almost as if the fourth installment never happened.

Neve Campbell is a mascot for the Scream series, who's inextricable link to playing Sidney Prescott has probably been as much of a help as a hinderance over the years. Luckily for Campbell, the constant attempts at reviving the series and character keep her in business. However, one wonders just how long this revival stunt will keep happening. Will she be in her 80s still dodging a masked killer at a retirement home?

Hello Sidney - Scream

Based on the Scream 4's box office profitability, it seems as though no end is in sight. Whether they find a new Sidney... or Tara if you've watched the trailer, it seems as though like Titanic the heart of Scream will go on. Brandishing a modest budget of $40 million, the fourth installment managed to rake in almost $100 million in takings after a $173 million, $161 million and $172 million streak for its trilogy. This fifth Scream film and "reboot" will be the decider. Based on the sluggish post-pandemic return to cinemas numbers... it's make or break. Just like the Fast and Furious managed to overcome Tokyo Drift and an iffy non-Diesel sequel, it's rare but at least possible for a series to reach new loftier heights. Brandishing the meta angle, this series manages to stay fresh by virtue of its self-reference and comedic undertones. Right now, this kind of ironic edge is most welcome... so Scream has everything to lose.

Based on the trailer, it seems as though the new Scream (or Scream 5) is just going for a rinse and repeat trying to capitalise on the 25 year anniversary as a story and marketing concept. Updating the story to latch onto our over-reliance on technology and social media, it could bring something fresh to the butcher's block. Roping in a next generation of fresh meat, the slasher is going for a precarious handover of sorts with enough old "furniture" to revive the nostalgia and spirit of the original. Sprouting lines like "I'm Sidney Prescott, of course I've got a gun.", perhaps this will be Campbell or Prescott's final Scream? Right now, it's becoming a will they or won't they on discontinuing the core character who's becoming more and more likely to don the ghostface mask and come full circle to play the slasher. Let's just hope the Ghostface Killer mask is more a scream than a yawn.

Finding 'Fried Barry'

Have you ever had a film elude you? Until recently Fried Barry has been that film. Having seen the experimental short film (below) a few years back and even interviewing director Ryan Kruger, his feature film debut has managed to slip out of reach again and again.

The epic old school movie poster, experimental concept, short movie and enigmatic star in Gary Green have given this film some buzz and energy. Being geared towards all things cult cinema, there's a mixture of excitement and trepidation about finally getting the chance to watch what should be a frenzy of a Ryan Kruger Thing.

The pandemic made it even more elusive, doing the festival circuit and not quite landing in South Africa apart from a few special screenings. Yet, after missing a few precious moments to see it, including last year's Horrorfest... the opportunity has finally arrived with the film set to premiere on DStv Box Office on 26 October 2021. This means you don't have to pursue the movie, Fried Barry's coming for you.

Fried Barry follows a lowlife, drug-addicted father and husband living in a middle-class nightmare who becomes host to an alien who takes Barry’s body for a joyride through the strangest and darkest avenues of Cape Town. Just as Barry's body is starting to give out after a series of mischievous, whimsical and deranged detours from crystal meth, a rave and even torture... the alien departs having learned a thing or two about the weird and unforgiving existence of humankind.

The pulsating, genre-bending, cult style flick also stars Chanelle De Jager, Johnny Pienaar, Bia Hartensen and Sean Cameron Michael and arrives just in time for Halloween. A first-of-its-kind film for South Africa, the ensemble is bolstered even further by the likes of Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Steve Wall, Deon Lotz and Tuks Tad Lungu. Having Ryan Kruger in the director's chair makes the prospect of seeing it even more tantalising, known for directing music videos and delivering a "what the hell happens next?" kind of short.

'Troll Girl' Short Film to Premiere at CTIAF

Kay Carmichael is an accomplished storyboard and development artist who works in the live-action and animation industry. Having started in animated television she's come to include animated series, feature films and commercials. While she worked on Supa Strikers, Kay's most recent animation work includes Mama K’s Team 4, Moosebox, Fairy Wheels and now her short film Troll Girl. When it comes to live-action productions, she's worked on series and films such as Northmen, The Book of Negroes, Blood Drive and The Perfect Wave. While Carmichael has been working in this space since 2009, she's known for her own comics and has been nurturing a number of passion projects such as 'Sophie the Giant Slayer' and a long-form series.

While some of these projects have been relegated to the backburner, one passion project that has been taking all of her time and energy... is ready to roll. Troll Girl is a fantasy short film that will be making its premiere at the Cape Town International Animation Festival between 1-3 October. The screening will be accompanied by a talk in which the creator will be discussing the making of, in particular the medium of blender grease pencil. Made with support from Triggerfish and the NFVF, this has been a labour of love for Carmichael.

From the trailer, which doesn't give too much away, the textured animation gives the short film spunk. Taking place in medieval times with a fairy tale twist and centred on an outcast, there will obviously be comparisons with Shrek. However, based on the teaser... Carmichael's animated adventure is more dramatic and lives in its own world without leaning on popular fairy tales.

The Doll - A Short Documentary About Child Marriage

The Doll is an Iranian short documentary about child marriage, which focusses on the story a 14-year-old girl named Asal. Taking an objective stance and allowing interviewees to speak freely, the film captures some of the nuances of the matter without passing judgement. Iranian filmmaker, Elahe Esmaili, voices her concerns about children's and women's rights by simply representing the complicated situation as it stands. While Esmaili is dealing with child marriage within the context of a staunch patriarchal society in The Doll, the film also touches on parental conduct, violence against woman and overarching social inequalities.

The documentary laces together interviewees from across Asal's immediate family circle with a primary focus on her and her father. Introducing the situation, husbands and wives from both sides of the equation explain the age they were married and offer their opinion on whether it's wise to do the same. Specifically speaking into Asal's impending child marriage, the general consensus is that it isn't wise for a girl to marry so young. From not being mature enough to being unable to attend to her husband's practical needs, there appears to be a general understanding that 14 is much too young. From this point, The Doll narrows down the discussion to young Asal whose father has promised her to another man.

Through interviews with the attractive girl, it becomes apparent that she's still very much entrenched in her childhood. Accepting toys and candy as gifts, learning to skate and still figuring out who she is in terms of personal style and what she wants to do with her life, the exuberant youngster is in her rebellious stage. Estranged from his wife, who he had to discipline through physical violence, it becomes clear why Asal's marriage couldn't come soon enough. Living in his photographer work studio and wanting to move on with his life by marrying his fiancee, it appears Asal's presence has become a nuisance - both reminding her father of his ex-wife and destined to be a problem to his second wife.

The Doll documentary

The stream of interviews flows steadily as one gets a good sense of the situation through familial speculation and words from the prime subjects themselves. While we never become acquainted with the suitor who's studying medicine, the underlying concern from her family in a culture where child marriage is normalised and permitted, speaks volumes. The Doll isn't simply about an exception but about a contentious and universal social issue, leveraging Asal's story as a figurehead for an matter that is prevalent but not limited to Islamic societies.

Speaking quite candidly as if none of the family members will ever hear their comments, the documentary unearths a number of deeper social issues affecting women and children, which could serve as the subject of spin-off documentaries. The Doll's powerful, timely and important message is what creates an eerie undertone to this matter-of-fact documentary. Asal's willingness to get married and her father's eagerness for his daughter to essentially be adopted by another family with a view to marriage don't seem to fully comprehend the underlying issues. According to the Statistical Centre of Iran, over 300 children were born from mothers aged 15 or younger during the Spring of 2020.

The Doll documentary

While repetitive, the interviews have an openness and honesty, compelling the viewer through an almost seamless channel of thought as comments are stringed together to create a sense of continuity. Beautifully framed and shot, The Doll is almost entirely comprised of talking heads, offering cutaway footage of home videos, the family in their day jobs, passing time at home, dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and having fun at a skate park. Esmaili creates a sense of authenticity and establishes trust with her subjects, one of the documentary's main selling points, which underlines the importance of its message. While Asal has been exposed to Instagram and realises there's another world beyond the fashion and fun of the platform, her excited anticipation of becoming a child bride does jar.

Esmaili is a brave filmmaker, whose thought-provoking work is sure to create international interest and spark the right kinds of conversations. If The Doll is what she's able to achieve with modest resources, one can only imagine what other groundbreaking social issues documentary ideas she will be unearthing next.

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