· Directed by #AndrewJDRobinson
· Written by #AndrewJDRobinson
Billed as a horror short, #TheBeckyCarmichaelFanClub depicts a terrifying encounter for child music star Becky, now living in obscurity, when a man kidnaps her as part of a sexual fantasy role play arrangement that he believes they agreed upon together online. With her brother on hand to help, Becky realises that someone, maybe several people, are posing as her online and that there are several groups dedicated to her. She turns to an online support forum, posing as Michelle, and meets Amber, someone who seems to identify with how she is feeling and offers help, but when Becky realises that Amber knows her brother Jessie and her real name, things take a very strange turn again.
The basic premise of this short film is fine and it is easy to see that discovering you are the subject of fan groups, whether on porn sites or social media ones, is creepy and suitable fodder for a horror film. Sadly, it isn’t delivered well here and perhaps this is because the film’s intention seems muddled.
The opening montage of the film is promising, with all the hallmarks of a decent, secret family history horror. The film is shot in black and white initially. White noise and the voiceover of an argument, piercing screeches and haunting humming preface the action – so far, so good. Becky collects her brother Jessie from the airport; it becomes clear their parents were alcoholics and are no longer around and that they themselves have been estranged. There are clearly secrets and unfinished business here - again, all good. But Becky is also revealed to be a child singing star, now out of the limelight and wishing she were more and this subplot ends up dominating in places. When they take a drive to visit their old house – now boarded up and the quintessential horror house where awful things may have taken place – we think we have the exposition wound up. All we need now is some conflict, an event which will frighten Becky, Jessie and us and which will uncover all of their past secrets, but we get none of that. Becky goes off on a walk and discovers some happiness in her music.
The plot veers off like this on a couple of occasions as over-long montages are cut together and whilst the editing is sound and the composition even beautiful at times, it is gratuitous and adds little to our understanding of character. It certainly doesn’t drive the plot. The kidnapping incident, the most intense moment of the film, becomes a side-show: odd considering nothing else in the film is as dramatic or terrifying and as the film continues the tension completely dissolves and very few ends are tied up. We have no idea why this brother and sister fell out; no idea about the impact of their parents’ alcoholism on them; no real idea why Jessie does what he does and no idea where this is going next. It leaves its audience empty and longing for a re-write.
Technically, this film is good: the editing, sound and even the choice of colour is thoughtful and impactful in places, but the script has little direction and this, sadly, is likely to bar it from garnering much of a fan base.