21st Jul2020

‘What Goes Around’ Review

by Dom Hastings

Stars: Catherine Morvell, Jesse Boum, Gabrielle Pearson, Charles Jazz Terrier, Taylor Pearce, Aly Zhang, Maximillian Johnson, Ace Whitman, Erina Yamada, Tim K Williams | Written and Directed by Sam Hamilton

“I like filmmaking. Mostly amateur stuff…” What Goes Around certainly comes around in this terrific slasher throwback and snuff film extravaganza!

Erin (Catherine Morvell) is a vulnerable and reserved college student. Working in a cafe, she is abused and taken advantage of by the customers. It’s unfair, disgusting, and is just another layer of annoyance present in an already difficult life. Alex (Jesse Bouma) – a customer within the cafe and fellow student – intervenes in one situation, leading to a connection established with Erin. As nice as this may seem, she’s just caught the attraction and attention of a mysterious boy who’s best left avoided.

Miraculously (and dangerously), Erin comes into possession of Alex’s laptop – he accidently leaves it behind in the cafe. Being a complete Nosey Norman with her friend Rachel (Gabrielle Pearson), they CORRECTLY GUESS HIS PASSWORD and subsequently scope him out. Good news: he has cool pictures saved and happens to like the same music as Erin, plus he’s not secretly married. Oh, wait a minute… He’s received an email… What could it be?.. None other than a link to a snuff video. For those who haven’t seen 8mm: a snuff film is a video of a real murder. So for Erin, this is a clear red flag. Of course, things can only get better – Erin and Alex approach each other in college, leading to the latter disclosing his appreciation of amateur filmmaking. *cough* Snuff *cough*

Despite her timid nature, Erin does pursue a deeper connection and relationship with Alex, even with the creepy snuff stuff in the back of her mind. Going out for drinks, Erin introduces Alex to Rachel and her extended entourage. Her entourage, littered with garbage humans, all pose an involvement in an unspeakable event in Erin’s past. They don’t like Alex and Alex doesn’t like them. After one of them is viciously murdered during a video call, fears are ripe, and they know their time’s up.

What Goes Around has legitimate old-school vibes – yet still feels fresh, which overcomes any instances of the film feeling like a rip-off. Produced on a budget of $20,000, there is a low-budget ambiance but depending on the sub-genre of horror, this could go either one way or the other – disgustingly cheap or raw and scary as f*ck. Minus one or two raspberry jam stab wounds to the back, the kills have such a raw vibe, there is a displeasure in spectatorship. Of course, this presentation is aided with the fictional representation of snuff. Depicting murder on amateur video will always look more realistic and gruesome. As a gory/violent/murdersome horror, What Goes Around is magnificent. Unfortunately, as a mysterious horror, the feel of the story being a mystery is too loose to be fully comprehended or taken on board by the viewer, but this doesn’t seem to ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things.

Not quite a Final Girl, Catherine Morvell’s performance of Erin is a tremendous showpiece of talent. She is undisputedly successful in the depiction of a character deeply troubled by her past who just wants the freedom of normality. Jesse Bouma on the other hand presents an intriguing figure as Alex. He himself poses more mystery than the film does overall. With a slightly intimidating, yet charming presence, enough is said and shown of the character to establish a desire to know more. Sometimes, the less we know of a character and his reasoning, the scarier he can be, though this can (and probably will) leave viewers feeling somewhat empty when there is a vital lack of explanation or logic.

From writer-director Sam Hamilton, What Goes Around is a story of karma and revenge, but not quite legal justice. In the context of this film, death is not just better suited than a conviction, it is quite simply more likely to occur. Elements of great importance are present – specifically in the context of justice and support for assault victims – though the balance is, perhaps, more in favour of creating an old school horror film.

*** 3/5

What Goes Around is available on Amazon Prime now.