WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WILL SCARE YOU Review - Salem Horror Fest
In her 5 Bloody Knife review, Dylyn C.S. calls What Happens Next Will Scare You a blissfully nostalgic tribute to physical media. Screening it at Salem Horror Fest’s Virtual Program, she found the cyber-demonic bloodbath especially poetic.
Salem Horror Fest had a killer lineup and their Virtual Program did not disappoint in October 2021. It included Chris LaMartina’s cyber-demonic bloodbath What Happens Next Will Scare You (2020). In this uncomfortably hysterical horror comedy, written by LaMartina and Jimmy George, a team of clickbait writers gathers to assess the most nerve-wracking content for “The Click Clique’s” upcoming Halloween listicle. As the staff members share scary viral videos with their unimpressed boss, the film dials up the terror while navigating the lines between relatable job stressors, not-so-relatable digital monsters, and the intimidating near-omnipotence of the internet. With its linear plotline’s seamless coalescence and anthology style, the film is as thrillingly freaky as it is delightful.
Bursting with talent, the cast includes Melissa LaMartina (WNUF Halloween Special), Kalima Young and Troy Jennings (Witch’s Brew) as members of The Click Clique. It also features
Paul Fahrenkopf (Ghosting) as pun-tastic custodian Rooster—whose “broom service” joke steals the film for me—and Mike C. Walls (Call Girl of Cthulhu) as the terrifying Mr. Tickles in the film’s “Video Dating Serial Killer” segment. Walls is also a guitarist and vocalist in the band Queen Wolf, whose contributions to the soundtrack give the film an even more exhilarating electric rush.
Having screened What Happens Next Will Scare You at the virtual film fest, I was hit especially hard by the film’s poetic self-awareness. Often daunted by the pervasiveness of technology myself, the film’s deep dive into murky computerized abysses mirrored my own personal horrors, bringing me some good-old-fashioned catharsis in the process. With pain-staking attention paid not only to new technology but also to vintage gadgetry, the film felt like a blissfully nostalgic tribute to physical media. From offbeat Eugene (Johnny Marra, Stay Cold, Stay Hungry) carrying his clunky VCR around the office to the low-rent ‘90s camcorder footage showcased in the film’s first video segment “Ghost Ruins Birthday Party”, the film seemed a retro act of love. The spirit within was similar to the works of Grady Hendrix (Final Girl Support Group) with its themes of "now" enmeshed with themes of "then".
For the genre-fan raised on horror, What Happens Next Will Scare You is crucial viewing. Set amidst a pizza party filled with guts and gimmicks, the film is nostalgia-heavy, even beyond its focus on old technology. Anyone familiar with the classics, however, could very well also appreciate the film given its abundance of references. This especially rings true in Walls’ segment of creepy clownery, which fellow lovers of Rent-A-Pal (2020) will absolutely flip over. On top of that, the film widely spans subgenres; meaning that whether you love purulent filled body horror or over-the-top creature features, you’re bound to find your needs met somewhere within this film. If you can imagine a Blu-ray of V/H/S Viral (2014) hot-glued to a dusty cassette tape of The Monster Squad (1987), then you’ve got an amalgamation of What Happens Next Will Scare You.
Speaking from my extraordinarily sentimental heart, I seriously enjoyed the silliness of this multi-faceted anthology. While it may not be the film for the strictly cerebral horror fan, it radiates a cheesy but very intentional boldness that’s liable to pull you right in! As far as modern horror goes, I’ve not seen anything quite like this bizarre little gem nor anything with such masterfully-crafted chaos. Granted, I can’t deny that it descends right into the absurd, but that is exactly why I loved it so much!