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Directed by James Carver

Starring Ben Willens, Ashlie Walker, and Jeremy Swift

Indie film review by Sarah Smeaton

#Starvecrow is a film that dominates every second of screen time with scenes that will shock and hold you captive. A compilation of ‘hacked’ mobile phone and CCTV footage, this is a story woven from the everyday threads of people’s lives. Ben and Jess, who have a severely destructive relationship, are the main focus in a plot that is bursting to the seams with meaningful and hard-hitting topics such as domestic abuse, violence, rape, murder and social pressures, to name but a few. This is not a film for the fainthearted. But if you can hang on past the wobbly mobile phone camera angles and the brief shots of disturbing (and sometimes irrelevant) ‘shock’ images then I think there’s a much-needed analysis of society here and some lessons to be learned along the way.

What’s so captivating about this indie film is that it very cleverly juxtaposes the mundane aspects of life alongside horrific events that in any person’s ‘normal’ world would likely never happen and most certainly not be documented. But what is ‘normal’ anymore? In a world where, as #Starvecrow so cleverly depicts, more and more of our personal and private lives are being documented to the public – through choice. #Starvecrow shows humanity at its lowest, but also at its most boring, those small bursts of time that aren’t worth recording, or mentioning to your mates. It encourages reflection on where society has travelled, and whether or not living in the technology era is as glamorous as we perhaps once thought it would be.

One of the things that let this film down, however, was the believability as to why these people would be filming themselves and each other in their worst moments and in moments that are not significant other than having a beer at the local. As main character, Ben, puts it when talking about the young and rich; ‘From the outside it’s all happy, it’s all fun, everyone’s having a good time. But start digging a little deeper and it’s a completely different story.’ I’m sure this is very true. This statement, however, appeared to contradict what the film was trying to portray; people no matter how glamorous on the outside can be rather ugly underneath.

For me, I couldn’t ignore the fact that in a lot of scenarios in the film, most people would have turned the recording on their mobiles off. The plausibility behind this ‘reality’ film gets lost, and what you’re left with is the awful realisation mid-watch that actually you’re just watching a bunch of average actors with iPhones. There was therefore no moment in this film that I could suspend my disbelief and get lost in the story. Having said that, I’m not entirely sure this wasn’t the aim of the movie! Everything from the very first scene is so in your face, and the sequence of scenes are so disjointed and unlinked that it’s likely director, James Carver, never wanted the audience to feel relaxed. If that was the aim, all I can say is, mission accomplished.

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