FrightFest Presents film review: Videoman
For those who think Argento is better than Fulci2
For those who want something different from FrightFest Presents8
For those who think bald alcoholic men are sexy10
Ian Loring | On 18, Feb 2019Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Kristian A. Söderström
Cast: Stefan Sauk, Lena Nilsson
Watch Videoman online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play / Sky Store
The FrightFest Presents line has been home to a great many horror films since its inception, but they’ve never had a film like Videoman before. Marketed with a mysterious image of someone touching a screen full of static, a kind of modern day Videodrome comes to mind when looking at the imagery. But, as Mary Poppins taught us recently, the cover is not the book, and this instead focuses much more on human drama than on the horror-inflected vibes expected.
A film that both panders to but tries to take its audience out of their comfort zone, Videoman concerns an alcoholic VHS collector, who refuses to fit in with society. He starts a relationship with an alcoholic office worker, while also attempting to find a stolen video tape, so he can sell it to a mysterious character named Faceless. If that sounds somewhat incoherent, you’ve also got the mood of the film.
Stefan Sauk believably plays a grown man who gets annoyed whenever anyone offers a dissenting opinion (a character who professes to hating social media, despite the fact his personality would make him fit in quite well on Twitter), but the arc he’s given doesn’t lend itself to all that much development. He’s a drunk, arrogant, annoying man-child who, by the end of the story, hasn’t grown, but has made a connection with a woman that seems to actually go downhill through the course of the film.
Writer/director Kristian A. Söderström succeeds in trying to make these characters feel real, but he fails in making you empathise with them; he creates two people who seem to be OK with ruining their professional lives and friendships, even if they do find comfort in each other.
There’s very little horror to the film, something which must have greatly surprised those seeing this at FrightFest. There are moments that seem to suggest it’s going to head in that direction; some dream sequences capture a fevered, boozy mindset very well, and the subplot involving Faceless concludes in a surreal way that makes you question how much is actually real. But other than this, the meat for horror fans is in the odd discussion had within the runtime – whether Argento or Fulci was the best director seems precision-tooled to get reactions out of a FrightFest crowd – rather than any actual on-screen violence or tension.
Scandinavian alcoholics are probably not the most marketable lead characters, so styling the film as a tribute to horror obsessives is a clever touch. The end result is an interesting direction for the FrightFest team to take, but in isolation, Videoman is a faintly depressing, though conceptually interesting, piece of work.
Videoman is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.