Plot: Simon (Liam Hughes) and his best friend Joe (Joe Daly) aren’t part of the popular crowd, but they want to be and in order to break into the cool kids’ circles, they come up with a plan. The two will use their artistic talents and interest in comic books to create their own, one rooted in the world around them. This comic will include all of the people the two interact with and tell stories that involve local touches, which prove to be wise decisions. Soon enough, the comic is the talk of the town and just as they hoped, it leads to enhanced social status. But things take a tragic turn when some of the locals are killed and in a strange twist, the deaths occur in similar fashion as the comic book, as if there is some supernatural force at work. Then the mysterious Hannah (Daisy Ridley) appears and she has a dark aura, but is she just a new face in town or does she have some sinister connection hidden in her darkness?
Entertainment Value: Scrawl is likely to draw in viewers thanks to Daisy Ridley being involved, but there’s more here than just her presence and while it doesn’t all fall into place, there are some interesting elements here. The narrative is fun, if a little familiar, with a comic book coming to life as it is written, though the story often goes off the rails and can seem incoherent at times. This is because of side threads that have potential, but aren’t well explored and a wealth of characters that populate the movie, while few are given enough depth to matter. All of this combines to make Scrawl feel bloated and convoluted, which doesn’t help things when the narrative is already kind of hit and miss like this one. A slow pace isn’t a boon to the material either, so there are just some real deterrents in Scrawl that lessen the experience. Even so, I liked the basic premise and there are some fun moments, as well as some light bloodshed, so horror elements are passable at least. I just wish the movie focused on the ingredients that worked, rather than trying to roll out as many threads as possible and letting them all feel sparsely developed. If you like indie horror and don’t mind a messy narrative or just want to see Daisy Ridley, I can offer a tepid recommendation.
This movie was made just before Daisy Ridley became an international mega star, so of course, a lot of the interest in Scrawl is driven by her presence. Unlike some movies where pre-fame stars are highlighted, she does have a prominent role in this one and in truth, it is a solid performance. She has an interesting character and gets to show off her darker side, which I thought was fun. I wasn’t sure how well she could pull off creepy and ominous, but Ridley handles it quite well. Of course, she isn’t in a lead role and the movie doesn’t center on her character, so her screen time isn’t constant, but she does have a decent amount of appearances in Scrawl. I think it is an interesting effort and one that her fans should appreciate, even if they don’t love the movie itself. The rest of the performances vary from passable to not good, but given the circumstances, I think most of the cast does well. Ridley’s presence kinds of raises expectations, but this is a low budget, indie production, so not all of the cast was experienced at this point. The cast also includes Liam Hughes, Nathalie Pownall, Elizabeth Boag, Joe Daly, and Mark Forester Evans.